Robots Will Soon Investigate Mines to Avoid Toxic Spills


Photo by: Life-Of-Pix via Pixabay


The US Environmental Protection Agency is planning to use robots and other types of sophisticated technology to prevent mine spills or to clear them up in case they happen.

Recalling the 2015 Gold King Mine wastewater spill where toxic wastewater was released in an attempt to drain the ponded water near the mine, EPA now wants to manage wastewater. It believes that robots can analyze the pollutants present in the water and map the mine inside.

Colorado School of Mines’ assistant professor of computer science Hao Zhang said that they envision the robot to appear like those of golf carts, unlike the robots that appear in the Star Wars movies. Along with the professor’s team of students, they demonstrated a small version of the robot that moves smoothly in a mine with a cluttered passage. “It’s hard for even humans to navigate in that environment,” said Zhang.

The assistant professor also shared that a commercial robot technology that is designed to explore the abandoned mines, such as those flooded with acidic wastewater, takes three to four years to be completed.

EPA also reveals its plan to drill from the surface of the mines and just lower instruments via holes to measure the pressure, direction and pressure underground the water currents. The federal agency also notes that the public will have an opportunity to comment on the project before any decision is made.