Robotic innovations like Rail-Veyor's conveyor system for hauling materials in and out of mines are taking some of the human factor out of mining, making it more efficient and safe for workers. (Source: Rail-Veyor Technologies)
It isn't only the safety issue that drives the need for robotics in the mining industry. I used to work in the industry for a number of years and another disadvantage is that the minerals are in the middle of nowhere. (Actually, you fly into the middle of nowhere and then drive another 100 miles). The personnel costs are astronomical because the miners have to be located at the site and their families are elsewhere. In some instances, even infrastructure (such as water systems) need to be brought out to the mine, so the less people actually there, significant reduce the costs.
Researchers have been working on a number of alternative chemistries to lithium-ion for next-gen batteries, silicon-air among them. However, while the technology has been viewed as promising and cost-effective, to date researchers haven’t managed to develop a battery of this chemistry with a viable running time -- until now.
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