Moving into 2020, V2X continues to dominate discussions around vehicular safety on mine sites. Yet, the vehicle-to-everything part of this technology only covers communication. To enhance safety on site, V2X systems still require components that identify potential hazards in their immediate environments.

Various hazard detection options are available, including camera systems and lidar. However, a simpler and less costly alternative to these advanced technologies can offer better safety gains in mining environments: high-precision GNSS.

The following excerpt from Wenco's latest white paper — The Next Step for V2X: High-Precision GNSS and Further Options for Enhanced Mine Safety — details the clear advantage that high-precision GNSS offers mining companies seeking to increase their vehicular safety.

The Advantage of High-Precision GNSS for Mining V2X

High-precision GNSS systems take a different approach to mining hazard detection from environmental sensing systems like cameras or lidar. These systems equip vehicles with a high-precision GNSS receiver that can detect its geolocation within 50 centimetres of accuracy. By adding these receivers to all vehicles on site and updating their positions at a specific frequency, system logic can rapidly determine the likelihood of vehicles colliding with any instrumented asset. 

As shown in this diagram, haul trucks equipped with only lidar- and camera-based V2X systems cannot identify one another around blind intersections. This weak point makes these solutions best suited for supplementing V2X systems based on high-precision GNSS.

Although popular for commercial vehicles and hotly discussed for mining, camera- and lidar-based systems both require an unobstructed line of sight between the system and any hazards in order to function properly. They cannot detect nearby hazards hidden behind a visual blockage, such as a berm or pit wall — regular occurrences on mine sites. Vehicles on a collision course around blind curves or intersections remain vulnerable, unable to receive protection from these systems. 

Conversely, high-precision GNSS-based systems do not require line of sight; they use peer-to-peer radio communication in conjunction with highly accurate geolocations and onboard system logic to calculate potential collisions. Operators remain consistently aware of other vehicles traveling nearby, regardless of visibility. Furthermore, instrumenting vehicles and other infrastructure with high-precision GNSS is also significantly less costly than outfitting them with elaborate technology like lidar.

The biggest issue with GNSS-based systems is their inability to actively sense their environment. Unless a vehicle or fixed asset maintains a GNSS receiver, it remains undetectable by the system. Obviously, this technological hurdle reduces the overall level of safety possible in relation to a lidar or camera system working in ideal operating conditions. Yet, the advantages of high-precision GNSS still make it a much more viable option for advancing the quality of V2X systems along the complexity-safety curve — and for mitigating vehicular hazards throughout this generation of technology.