School of Mechanical & Mining Engineering

Monday, 2 November 2015

EAIT's virtual practice environment for mining operations provides a visual and audio experience of mining practice settings.

The recently installed Immersive 3D Visualisation Laboratory offers students a semi-immersive virtual environment in which a number of mining related scenarios can be simulated. The facility boasts a 180 degree curved screen, powered by three full High Definition 3D projectors each run by its own workstation. The system is capable of running highly detailed Virtual Reality simulations in both 3D and 2D. The integration of gesture recognition through the use of the Leap Motion controller in newly developed simulations allows students to interact with objects in virtual environments using their hands.

The currently available simulations provide students with the opportunity to:

  • Navigate around virtual photo-realistic mines using both underground and open cut mining methods;
  • Inspection mining equipment used in industry;
  • Carry out hazard identification inspections; and
  • Develop a Trigger Action Response Plan (TARP) in a dynamic risk management environment.

The ability to simulate real-world mining scenarios in a virtual environment provides students with the opportunity to gain a systems understanding of mining by simulating locations that would otherwise be extremely difficult or impossible to gain safe access to in reality. This technology has already proved to be effective and beneficial in terms of cutting the cost of training and providing the students with a better understanding of the system being simulated. Using virtual reality in education is also more attractive to students as it is flexible and easier to understand - especially in mining where it can be difficult to demonstrate complex mining methods through the use of two-dimensional diagrams.