Hexagon Mining rolled out two new platforms, HxGN Autonomous Mining and HxGN Underground Mining this week at its flagship digital reality conference, HxGN LIVE 2023, in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. HxGN Autonomous Mining is a portfolio that the company said will protect people and equipment while addressing the challenges of operational productivity and decarbonization. By helping to autonomously manage vehicle traffic, improve fleet situation awareness and introduce drill automation, the new portfolio will give mines the ability to future-proof operations with the foundational building blocks of full operational autonomy.

These building blocks, the company explained, include tools providing autonomous world perception, path planning in both manned driver-assist and autonomous operation, and machine intervention up through control on mining vehicles and drills primarily in open cast environments and haulage operations.

HxGN Autonomous Mining unites Hexagon’s Power of One hardware with its Core computing platform, connecting a unique ecosystem of sensors and software. “The portfolio can help mines to succeed today while preparing for tomorrow,” said Andrew Crose, vice president, autonomous mining, for Hexagon’s mining division.

“Bringing autonomy to reality in production is complex and takes strategic focus,” Crose said. “But HxGN Autonomous Mining will bring immediate benefits for customers, from better blast outcomes with drilling automation to improved equipment performance and production via autonomously managed vehicle movement.

“By partnering with us on their autonomous journey, customers enjoy the peace of mind of knowing that Hexagon is working from an unparalleled technology stack,” Crose said. “A future generation of interoperable autonomous systems is around the corner, and no one can deliver it like Hexagon can.”

Hexagon Mining also introduced HxGN Underground Mining, an integrated sensor-software portfolio built for the unique challenges of underground environments. Featuring robust systems for collision avoidance, drill optimization and production planning, the new portfolio helps mines to achieve the best results while protecting drivers, pedestrians and equipment in the most demanding environments.

The announcement, the company said, responds to industry demand as more mines push deeper beneath the surface for deposits and face ever more complex conditions. Underground geology is complicated and communications and positioning are challenged. Amid darkness and noise distraction, additional hazards are posed by toxic gases and rockfall.

HxGN Underground Mining effectively creates a seamless technology transition from open pit to underground mining. Its safety suite, for example, leverages collision avoidance and operator alertness systems proven in more than 40,000 vehicles worldwide in open pit environments.

Similar integration is at work in the portfolio’s operations suite, which helps mine operators and supervisors to manage underground fleet equipment and to optimize production in real time via a dynamic activity scheduler and fleet management system. Engineers can avoid flawed mining processes and minimize downtime by using 3D visualization, and CAD tools to create mine designs and activity-based schedules.

The portfolio’s optimization software for production and development enables mines to achieve consistent blasting outcomes with high-precision drilling and optimal set-up processes. Beyond benefitting business, better drilling practices are good for the planet, reducing CO2 emissions and supporting sustainability goals, said Mateus Quintela, Hexagon’s Head of Product, Underground Mining.

“We know mines are looking for ways to mine smarter, safer and in more environmentally and socially conscious ways,” Quintela said. “HxGN Underground Mining will help our customers answer this search by increasing the efficiency of machines and miners throughout the operation. Well-choreographed scheduling will minimize the downtime of working areas, like headings and stopes, and there’s a real opportunity to reduce diesel emissions through better truck-to-loader planning.

“Perhaps most importantly, our new portfolio offers ways to ensure operators and supervisors are capturing and using safety data, so whether above ground or below it, everyone gets home safely.”