Today's Labour News

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miners2BusinessLive reports that a small device, with an aerial the size of an adult’s forefinger and a wafer-thin circuit board the width and length of a matchbox, could crack open the problem of finding mine workers lost in underground rockfalls.  

It will also keep track of their vital signs.  The unassuming device — which its inventor, Idrees Zaman, a visiting researcher from Germany’s Bremen University, says could be made much smaller and cheaper — will easily fit inside a mine worker’s helmet.  It could provide communication with similar nodes placed along tunnel roofs or walls.  The battery-powered device could be made a lot smaller by drawing power off the battery pack used for the cap lamps every mine worker has underground.  The device operates at a frequency that allows communications to travel through air, rock and broken rock.  While tests are under way to determine the range of the devices, initial indications are that 10m is easily achievable, Zaman says.  Expanding the system to accommodate robotic applications would be easy, but the system is in its early stages of development, with much work needed to perfect it.  Early cost estimates put the devices at less than R1,000 each, a fraction of the cost of low-frequency or high-frequency devices used for underground communications.

  • Read this report by Allan Seccombe in full at BusinessLive

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