MSL Wins Big at 2016 NCFRN Ogopogo Event

Together with co-inventor Joshua Marshall, Mining Systems Laboratory (MSL) technology entrepreneurs Marc Gallant and Jordan Mitchell won 1st and 2nd place, respectively, at this year’s NCFRN Ogopogo event.  The Ogopogo event is a Dragons’ Den-like event held annually as part of the NSERC’s NCFRN Annual Meeting, this year in Sudbury, Ontario at Laurentian University.  Ogopogo refers to the lake monster of Okanagan Lake, where the first event was held in 2015.   NCFRN is a national field robotics network, that brings together researchers from across the country to focus on robotics for challenging outdoor applications.

The winning business and technology pitch was given by AxisMapper, a robotic geotechnical tool that is the focus of Marc’s PhD work.  Second place went to MapKey, a novel cavity scanning technology that is the focus of Jordan’s Master’s research.  AxisMapper took home a $10,000 prize, which will be used to develop a demonstrator unit, as well as some business development and market studies.  MapKey took home an $8,000 prize, which will be used to fund prototype development and deployment at an underground facility during the coming year.  For more information about these technologies, contact Joshua Marshall.

A shout-out to Ryan Gariepy at Clearpath for a great job as event MC!

Ogopogo 2016


NCFRN Logo (English)

Automated Geotechnical Mapping

Introducing the Mining Systems Laboratory’s automated geotechnical mapping system.  It provides a quick and easy way for geotechnical engineers or geologists to automatically generate rich and complete stereonets that map the joint sets of exposed rock cuts, whether these are on surface, underground, or in hard-to-reach places.  Our system is lightweight, mobile, fast, and accurate.

Related Documents

M. J. Gallant and J. A. Marshall.  Automated rapid mapping of joint orientations with mobile LiDAR.  In the International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences, vol. 90, pp. 1-14, December 2016.  DOI: 10.1016/j.ijrmms.2016.09.014

M. J. Gallant and J. A. Marshall.  The LiDAR Compass: Extremely lightweight heading estimation with axis maps.  To appear in Robotics and Autonomous Systems, available online May 2016.

M. J. Gallant and J. A. Marshall. Automated three-dimensional axis mapping with a mobile platform. In Proceedings of the 2016 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), Stockholm, Sweden, May 2016.

M. J. Gallant and J. A. Marshall. Two-dimensional axis mapping using LiDAR. In IEEE Transactions on Robotics, vol. 32, no. 1, pp. 150-160, January 2016.

M. J. Gallant, J. A. Marshall, and B. K. Lynch. Estimating the heading of a Husky mobile robot with a LiDAR compass based on direction maps. Invited paper in Proceedings of the 2014 International Conference on Intelligent Unmanned Systems, Montreal, QC, September 2014.


Funding for this research was provided by in part by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the NSERC Canadian Field Robotics Network (NCFRN).

NSERC LogoNCFRN Logo (English)


Commercial Opportunities

For commercial inquiries, please contact:

Mr. Ramzi Asfour
PARTEQ Innovations
+1 613-533-6000 ext. 78355

MSL Wins Best Paper at FSR 2015

Congratulations to MSL researchers Andrew Dobson and Joshua Marshall, and Johan Larsson of Atlas Copco Rock Drills AB, for winning the Best Paper Award at the 10th Conference on Field and Service Robotics (FSR 2015).

A. A. Dobson, J. A. Marshall, and J. Larsson.  Admittance control for robotic loading: Underground field trials with an LHD.  In Proceedings of the 10th Conference on Field and Service Robotics (FSR 2015), Toronto, ON, June 2015.

Best Paper FSR 2015

Autonomous Loading of Fragmented Rock

Robotic excavation machines are of interest in mining and construction, where the aim is remove operators from hazardous environments, improve machine utilization, productivity, and task repeatability, and to reduce maintenance costs.  However, what makes robotic excavation challenging is the nature of the bucket-rock interactions.  For example, the resistance faced by a bucket as it attempts to penetrate a rock pile may vary significantly depending upon the properties of the media (e.g., density and hardness), the rock pile geometry, and the distribution of particle sizes and shapes. Indeed, it would be very difficult to predetermine the exact nature of future bucket-rock interactions prior to the execution of any particular excavation operation.

Our focus is on excavation in fragmented rock, as is common in mining and construction, using a load-haul-dump (LHD) excavation machine.  We have devised an admittance-based excavation control strategy that, in extensive field trials, has proven to be an effective approach to autonomous excavation.

Related Documents

A. A. Dobson, J. A. Marshall, and J. Larsson.  Admittance control for robotic loading: Design and experiments with a 1-tonne loader and a 14-tonne load-haul-dump machine.  Invited paper in the special issue on Field and Service Robotics of the Journal of Field Robotics (accepted March 31, 2016).  DOI: 10.1002/rob.21654

A. A. Dobson, J. A. Marshall, and J. Larsson.  Admittance control for robotic loading: Underground field trials with an LHD.  In Proceedings of the 10th Conference on Field and Service Robotics (FSR 2015), Toronto, ON, June 2015.  Conference best paper award! DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-27702-8_32

J. A. Marshall, P. F. Murphy, and L. K. Daneshmend. Toward autonomous excavation: Full-scale experiments.  IEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering, vol. 5, no. 3, pp. 562-566, July 2008.

Media Coverage

A. Lopez-Pacheco, Fully loaded: Atlas Copco feels its way into autonomous loading for LHDsCIM Magazine, December 2016-January 2017.

A. Craig, Researchers rock out with robots, Queen’s Gazette, May 12, 2015.


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Commercial Opportunities

For commercial inquiries, please contact:

Mr. Jörgen Appelgren
VP (Rocktec Automation)
Atlas Copco Rock Drills AB
SE-701 91 Örebro, Sweden
+46 19-670 73 26