The University of South Australia is developing a virtual reality platform to increase interest in the mining industry by making remote, interesting field sites more accessible.
Project LIVE-MM (Learning through immersive virtual environments for minerals and mining) is backed by a consortium of universities and minerals giants wanting students to trial being a geologist for a day.
Highly instructive field sites are often situated in inaccessible or remote environments where training visits can be impractical, time-consuming and financially prohibitive.
Drones, coupled with LiDAR, 3D photogrammetry and high-definition panoramic images, will be used to survey geologically complex sites to build interactive scenarios in augmented and virtual reality.
Strategic sites will be picked for their ability to convey core minerals industry skills and capabilities, and will also be used to illustrate the application of new research and new technologies in the field.
It could also be used to peer underneath the surface of the ground to reveal the layers underneath and how they interact.
The two-year project is being delivered through the $215 million mining research consortium MinEx CRC, whose members include BHP, UniSA, Geoscience Australia and the CSIRO. It’s also been granted $100,000 from the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
It’ll be led by UniSA’s program director of Environmental Science and Geospatial Science, associate professor Tom Raimondo, who said the MinEx CRC project will be a valuable outreach and education tool to attract talent to the industry.
“These modules will give students a critical first impression of the industry that is both fun and stimulating and interactive, and the program will provide early exposure to digitally-enriched learning and technologies that are already being used in professional practice,” Raimondo said.
“People will be able to interact with 3D models to achieve a particular goal, progressively unpacking the information provided to make sense of it.
“So, it will function like a series of mini games or tasks within the virtual environment, rather than a passive learning experience that is a bit like a documentary.”