Prototype promises first step towards autonomous charging

24 November 2020

Orica and Epiroc have co-developed what they claim is the world’s first wireless, semi-automated explosives delivery system for use in hard rock drill-and-blast operations. The technology aims to ensure that the right explosives are safely delivered into the right holes within the right timeframe for improved safety and efficiency.

‘Avatel’ allows charge crews to execute the development cycle by remaining in-cab, eliminating their exposure at the face, thus reducing costly time-consuming and potentially dangerous activity. It is seen as the first step towards autonomous charging.

Currently set-up as a twin-boom drill rig with a semi-autonomous and fully mechanised development charging solution, the Avatel system allows a single operator to complete the entire charging cycle from the safety of the rig’s cabin. Future developments are expected to be extended to other Epiroc drill rigs.

Orica’s chief commercial and technology officer Angus Melbourne said: “The mining industry is moving rapidly toward a digitally integrated and automated future, and Avatel will fulfil our shared vision of developing safer and more productive blasting solutions.”

Sami Niiranen, president of Epiroc’s underground division said: “The Avatel prototype represents the first step towards autonomous charging – a vital step in the journey toward safer and more productive blasting operations underground.”

Trials of Avatel will take place throughout 2021 prior to the first commercial systems brought to market, possibly by the end of that year.