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Coal Industry Looks to Robots for Increased Safety

By Zhao Runhua / Aug 15, 2019 12:30 PM / Environment

Photo: IC Photo

Photo: IC Photo

The dangers of coal mining have long been a concern in China, with accidents and fatalities commonplace, largely due to poor infrastructure and low risk awareness.

The industry was long called “blood coal,” referencing the lives sacrificed by the seemingly ordinary though laborious occupation.

Though it may not be realized overnight, a solution is now in the works. Stronger safety protocols? No.

Robots.

China’s National Coal Mine Safety Administration on Wednesday announced a strategic partnership with the country’s leading space technology agency, the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. (CASC), to make “smart” industrial equipment, including coal-mining robots.

As with most high-tech endeavors in China, few details were made available about the advanced equipment.

CASC is the leading force behind China’s national defense equipment and aerospace projects, including the Chang’e-4 probe, which became the first spacecraft to land on the far side of the moon.

The coal mining agency’s head, Huang Yuzhi, said the cooperation will allow the industry to better tackle risks, reduce miners’ workloads, and alleviate pressure from a decreasing labor supply. The industry’s smart transformation has “just started,” Huang added, and thus should “eagerly” seek cross-industry cooperation for tech support.

CASC Chairman Wu Yansheng said the tie-up would be another example of the integration of military and civil technology, and will improve the industry’s safety conditions.

Contact reporter Zhao Runhua (runhuazhao@caixin.com)


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