What do the Cold War and underground mining have in common? At first glance, very little. However, there is a link between them – the use of wireless networks as a monitoring tool.
One of the earliest uses of a comprehensive wireless sensor network was a system called SOSUS (Sound Surveillance System) that was developed by the U.S. military in the 1950s in order to keep tabs on Russian submarine activity in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
The SOSUS system made use of hydrophones (acoustic sensors that can be submerged in water), that then sent back information to a central point. Actually, most of the SOSUS system is still in use, but these days, it is mostly used to monitor marine wildlife and seismic activity in the oceans.
The technology found in wireless networks that are used for monitoring purposes has definitely come a long way since the Cold War days. The wireless mesh sensor networks found in modern underground mines make use of up-to-date electronics and are highly efficient.
Generally, a series of geotechnical and other monitoring instruments within the mine are grouped and connected to small, self-powered wireless nodes (like the MDT-RTU).
These wireless nodes communicate with each other and move data retrieved from instruments from one node to the next, until it reaches a network gateway and enters the mine’s pre-existing LAN network. Thereafter, the data can be used by mine engineers to make the mine safer and more productive.
Click here to find out more about wireless mesh sensor networks and how they are used in underground mines.