Virtual reality based training system for underground coal miners

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In September 2013 in the Virtual Reality Laboratory of CIOP-PIB, 21 miners from Kompania Węglowa SA, the largest coal mine company in Europe, took part in the first training course in virtual reality. The subject of the course was safe performance of very dangerous blasting works in the underground mine (e.g. in the virtual mine it is possible to practise proper procedures in case of fire). To perform a realistic and interesting training simulation CIOP-PIB has developed a new hardware (e.g. motion capture system and a new type of VR gloves) as well as software tools. The system allows to move freely inside the training rooms with no wires and the total weight of the equipment not exceeding 0.5 kg (see the figure). According to the results of the surveys conducted directly after the training course and two months later:

The simulation is realistic and attractive. Its duration is appropriate.

• The training system is useful.

• It was easy to navigate and find objects in a simulated space.

The training had a positive effect on trainees’ confidence and knowledge and on the reactions of their supervisors and co-workers.

The results of surveys among people employed in the mining industry show that there is a need for new type of training solutions based on the virtual reality techniques. Therefore, CIOP-PIB is cooperating with companies from the mining industry to prepare three new training facilities in the proximity of coal mines to better prepare young miners to their dangerous work.

CIOP Virtual reality

 

Fig. 1. Drilling blasting hole in a virtual mine. On the right side a trainee is wearing a Head Mounted Display (HMD) and VR gloves, grabbing a virtual drill. An image seen in HMD is projected on the screen.

This paper has been prepared on the basis of the results of the project “The use of virtual reality techniques to train miners in dealing with highly dangerous works” carried out within the National Programme “Improvement of Safety and Working Conditions” 2011-2013, partly supported by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education. CIOP-PIB was the Programme’s main coordinator.

Contact: Andrzej Grabowski (angra@ciop.pl)

 

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