CLOSED ON: 14 APR 2020  |  REWARD: INR 10,00,000
Reward money is paid in exchange of legally acquiring the solution, implementing it to solve the problem and meeting the success criteria. Milestones for paying the reward money would depend upon the complexity of challenge and maturity of the proposed solution, which would be discussed with the solver as soon as the proposed solution is selected by us.
Under Evaluation

Short Description:

We are looking for solutions to eliminate manual dressing in underground coal mines and its associated safety hazards.

Challenge Details

Problem Brief:

Underground Coal mines generally use Bord and Pillar method for mining coal. In Bord & Pillar method set of rooms (these rooms are referred as bords or gallery) are developed in chess board pattern leaving massive pillars in between the bords for holding the roof. Dressing is common method used to bring down loose coal material from roof at regular intervals.

(refer videos at )

Bord and pillar mining method comprises two phases, i.e. development and depillaring. In the development phase, a series of narrow roads known as “bords” or “galleries” are progressed into the coal seam parallel to each other along the dip direction which are cut across at right angles by another series of roads driven along the strike. In depillaring stage, coal from pillars formed are extracted.

One of our underground coal mines, uses Bord & pillar method of mining at a depth of 500 metre below surface where gallery needs to be continuously progressed for pillar formation and depillaring. Currently, Dressing activity is performed manually, which can potentially be a very unsafe for the people carrying out dressing activity.

Hence, we are looking for mechanised dressing system for our underground coal mine. One of the options could be mobile robots with the ability to sense the crack, decode the crack type & its category and take appropriate decision for dressing down activity.

Detailed Description:

Underground coal mining process includes 3 broad operations – mine development, coal extraction and Loading & Conveying coal.

  • Mine development: Dewatering, dressing, roof bolting and supporting of face.
  • Coal Extraction: Drilling of blast holes at the coal face, charging, stemming, blasting explosives at face and fume clearance after blasting. also explain a few terminologies (coal face?)
  • Loading & Conveying Coal: Loading of coal at the face using loaders and transporting coal to the bunker by conveyor belts.

Coal by nature creates sedimentary rock with shale and sand stone. These sedimentary rocks in roof create cleats and cracks naturally or due to mining.  With time, moisture and air contact these cracks and cleats loosen which creates safety risk as these loose parts can come down and injure someone.

So, Dressing activity is done by skilled and experienced human dresser carefully.  Presently, human dresser uses 6 feet length hexagonal mild steel 25mm crow bar (crow bar is a metal bar with a single curved end & flattened points used for break and remove rocks) or ½ inch diameter Galvanised Iron pipe of 10 feet length tipped with crow bar as a tool for dressing the roof which is generally at a height of around 8 to 10 feet. Dressers and supervisors follow SOP but there is always a scope of misjudgement of cracks and injuries may happen to workers. Hence, we want to use mechanised dressing system. This system should be equipped with crack detector sensor guns to decode the crack type and use advanced data analytics to derive decisions for dressing down activity. This system may use existing crow bar or galvanized iron pipe or some other extensible hands with sharp edge pressure for dressing.

User Requirements:

  • System should be able to sense the crack, decode the crack type & category.
  • System should be able to take appropriate decision for doing dressing down activity.

Functional Requirements:

  • System should have analytical capability to analyse crack ratings and take correction actions of dressing accordingly.
  • System should work in underground coal mines of degree-III gassy mines.

Performance Requirements:

  • System would be deployed in underground mine environment; hence it requires robust, heavy-duty hardware that can function in extreme conditions.
  • System must be able to handle unpredictability in a reliable way.
  • Zero Fatality and Zero lost time injury to human dresser is target.


  • Underground mine is deep and having depth more than 500 meters.
  • No high production cutting technology with caving is used in this mine as surface built up area needs to be protected.
  • No blast-less cutting technology is used in this mine.

Have any query or need more clarification about this challenge?