A FLEET of robots being developed in the United States could soon be roving throughout mine sites in Australia, able to safely explore deep into underground mines.
A five-year deal struck between the American Carnegie Mellon University and Anglo American aims to build "Profiler" bots that will navigate dangerous subterranean areas.
According to Anglo - which owns seven coal mines in Central Queensland - once testing is finished, the machines could be rolled out on Australian mine sites.
The bots would be dispatched into the most hazardous parts of a mine, so operators can learn if it was safe to enter without putting a life at risk.
It may even allow mines to tap into coal they would otherwise struggle to reach.
The university's principal robotics investigator on the project, Dimi Apostolopoulos, said the technology would "break new ground".
"We will apply robotics to underground mining tasks that are perilous and extremely challenging for humans," he said.
"Our robotic solutions will improve productivity through innovations in processes and technologies."
Anglo group head of technology David Bentley said the deal was part of Anglo's overarching goal of improving safety on mine sites.
"Ultimately, automating the most difficult, costly and dangerous mining activities will help create far more sustainable and safe working conditions for all underground operators working in the mining industry," Mr Bentley said.
"It will also increase the productivity and efficiency of Anglo American's operations."
Anglo American owns four coal mines under the Capcoal banner in Central Queensland, along with Dawson, Foxleigh and Moranbah North.
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