WASPs enable underground tracking

By on 3 September, 2013
Dr Mark Hedley and Dr Jay Guo show off WASP. Image courtesy CSIRO.

Dr Mark Hedley and Dr Jay Guo show off WASP. Image courtesy CSIRO.

A new wireless tracking technology developed by the CSIRO will be able to track miners deep underground, helping save lives and improve productivity.

Known as WASP (Wireless Ad hoc System for Positioning), the technology can track people and objects to an accuracy of about half a metre in underground environments where GPS and WiFi-based tracking are either inaccurate or don’t work at all.

The technology has been commercialised by mining communication company Minetec, and incorporated into its Trax+Tags II suite, which was recently launched at the Asia Pacific International Mining Exhibition in Sydney.

Accurate and reliable location tracking is critical to the future of underground mining, and significantly improves productivity, and reduces health and safety risks.

“[WASP] is a revolutionary technology that offers a highly accurate, cost-effective tracking solution for underground mining, and we are hoping to expand its use for aboveground in the near future,” said Andy Sheppard, executive general manager of Minetec.

Wireless systems expert Dr Mark Hedley, who led the project, says WASP uses small mobile tags attached to vehicles or mine workers, combined with a series of reference nodes placed at known locations around the area being monitored, similar to the way GPS works, only on a much smaller scale.

“These nodes communicate wirelessly, calculating the arrival time of signals, allowing the system to accurately track the location and speed of objects as they move through an underground mine pit or tunnel,” he says.

“The technology can be used to locate workers in emergency situations and has the ability to act as a network that could send sensor data such as a worker’s heart rate, core temperature or gas or radiation levels in the surrounding environment.”

You can learn more about WASP at the CSIRO website.

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