Coal Services has teamed-up with the University of Wollongong (UOW) in Australia to measure the effectiveness of using virtual reality to train miners.
The Australian company has developed a 4m high cinema-like virtual reality room with a 360° screen that is 10m in diameter and uses 12 cameras to project 3D images with full surround sound.
SMART Infrastructure Facility PhD student Shiva Pedram and the university are conducting research to evaluate the way the training bridges the gap between classroom, as well as coalmine to equip workers for the challenges they will face.
The room can accommodate up to eight miners in full protective gear who can experience simulated explosions, gas leaks or routine safety inspections.
The virtual coalmine is said to be as close as a person can get to being in a mine without getting inside a shaft.
As part of her analysis, Shiva worked with up to 400 miners who use Coal Services' four facilities in New South Wales.
Shiva said: "The training offered by Coal Services has contributed significantly to this positive outcome.
"The training system gives employees the confidence to do their job well and the confidence to be able to handle situations when things go wrong."
"The technology has proved vital for the professional training of workers subjected to high-risk activities and hazardous situations, because there are only limited opportunities to reproduce these scenarios during traditional training."
Coal Services virtual reality technical manager Matthew Farrelly said: "There is actually quite a large body of research for simulator-based training in industries such as aviation and military, as well as operator training."
Image: The virtual reality coalmine is as close as a person can get to being in a mine without entering a shaft. Photo: courtesy of Coal Services.