Virtual Reality Mine Safety Training Technology a First for Australia

New virtual reality technology is revolutionising Australian mining safety training. Developed by Coal Services business unit & registered training organisation, Mines Rescue, the virtual reality tech is now in use at their training facilities throughout the country.

What is the Virtual Reality Tech?

The technology consists of 4 platforms which offer a full-rounded, adaptable, immersive and ultimately invaluable training experience. Best of all the technology can be tailored to specific mining sites and safety problem scenarios!

Steve Tonegato, State Operations Manager of Mines Rescue, notes the appeal of “mixed reality is something that is very unique. People see a lot of virtual reality, especially in gaming which has sensational graphics, but this is a place where not only does everything look real but you can also interact”.

So what are the 4 platforms?

360 Degree Virtual Reality Theatre

This enormous wrap-around cinema space was constructed in 2008, over the years it’s been updated into a technological training marvel simulating the real world for full user-immersion.

How Does the Theatre Work?

The 360 Degree Theatre is intended to simulate such real world safety events as underground gas explosions and fires (incidents which are too risky to carry out in a real life training program). The end goal is to teach the participants how to correctly respond and handle these sorts of situations.

Theatre Highlights

1. One of the incredible achievements of the theatre is that it allows a person to interact with everything. It’s not just a virtual reality space, but a completely functioning virtual mine with 50km of virtual roadway for participants to traverse!

2. Mining equipment and assets can also be input into the virtual theatre.

“What this allows us to do is move these assets to wherever we want within the virtual reality world and set them on fire, create accidents, create smoke, to give training participants a full emergency experience”, Mr Tonegato explains.

3. Participants can even view the scenario unfolding form different view-points such as inside walls, the roof, even dangerous areas they wouldn’t be able to access in a real world disaster. This allows them to gain a deeper insight and greater familiarisation with the working environment they will be entering into.

4. The Trigger Action Response Plans (TARP) can also be integrated into the theatre, flashing up at participants during the training simulation to teach them how to respond to the scenario occurring.

5. It gets better, 3D glasses really get participants engaged and make the experience all the more real. For example, a simulated methane gas explosion can be replicated with such graphic accuracy participants may be forgiven for fanning off the imaginary smoke.

The Domes

This huge room has a large cinema screen inside. The user takes hold of a joystick which they can move around the virtual mine as they like. The Domes is intended to get participants thinking about whether or not remote mining is suitable for the location by assessing any hazards. 

Training on Desktop

Gamers delight, this virtual reality program lets you control an avatar just like in a videogame complete with 360 degree views of the virtual mine. The training scenarios from The Domes and The Theatre can be replicated in this program.

Actions are all recorded so users can look back and pin-point where they went wrong and what they got right.

The laptops can also be customised to mining company site specifications for work environment training tailored to their needs.

Curve Screen

The Curve Screen displays the mining platform from above, as well as showing avatars and enabling the replication of the scenarios which are generated in the 360 Theatre, Domes & Desktop Training.

This platform plays back the participants scenarios for them. It also allows the training assessors to view the participant’s in action, in real time.

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