IN a potentially life-saving breakthrough, the CSIRO has devised a new tracking system to monitor people and objects to within half a metre.
The Wireless Ad hoc System for Positioning (WASP) can operate where GPS and Wi-Fi are not as effective, such as underground mine operations.
The product was commercialised by Mintec and launched at the Asia Pacific International Mining Exhibition in Sydney.
Mintec executive general manager Andy Sheppard said the development was a significant milestone for reducing the risk of underground accidents.
“[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,” Mr Sheppard said.
“The high resolution situational awareness improves the accuracy of forecasted productivity [and] thus closes the gap between planned and actual targets.”
According to the CSIRO, the highly flexible platform of the WASP can be tailored for use in a wide variety of activities including sport, emergency management and in the mining sector – with the main purpose of improving safety.
CSIRO project leader and wireless systems expert Dr Mark Hedley said the WASP used small mobile tags that could be attached to vehicles or mine workers while other nodes were placed around
the monitored area.
“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 said.
“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.”