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Mining Companies Borrow From Gamers' Physics Engines 39

littlekorea writes "Mining companies are developing new systems for automating blasting of iron ore using the same open source physics engines adapted for games such as Grand Theft Auto IV and Red Dead Redemption. The same engine that determines 3D collision detection and soft body/rigid body dynamics in gaming will be applied to building 3D blast movement models — which will predict where blasted materials will land and distinguish between ore and waste. Predictive blast fragmentation models used in the past have typically been either numerical or empirical, [mining engineer Alan Cocker] said. Numerical models such as discrete element method, he noted, are onerous to configure and demanding of resources — both computing and human — and are generally not appropriate for operational use at mines. 'The problem with empirical models, by contrast, is that they tend to operate at a scale too coarse to give results useful for optimizations,' he added, noting typical Kuz-Ram-based fragmentation models (PDF) (widely used to estimate fragmentation from blasting) assume homogeneous geology (the same type of materials) throughout a blast."
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Mining Companies Borrow From Gamers' Physics Engines

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Is about to shit his fucking pants.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Totally pwned the earth's crust with this frag.

  • by jhantin ( 252660 ) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @07:24PM (#43353275)

    This is rather notable in that it's the first article I've seen in a while that talks about both GPU-compute and mining without being about Bitcoin.

    • This is rather notable in that it's the first article I've seen in a while that talks about both GPU-compute and mining without being about Bitcoin.

      You just invoked jhantin's law....

    • Actually, I thought someone wrote a bitcoin mining routine in some FaceBook game or something. Another "alternate revenue stream."
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Movies like 2012, and just about every single open source project that needs a physics engine uses it. (sorry ODE and Newton, but bullet is better)

    • THANK you, this isn't some game physics engine, its a physics engine for simulation that's commonly used for games. its also featured in blender. Its open source! that should have been in the summary for this audience.
      • by bdwebb ( 985489 )
        Totally agree that the Open Source aspect should have been more heavily featured. I think the point is that they may be Open Source but initial development of the best physics engines is typically for the gaming world with other potential applications. Bullet and Newton definitely were developed with mostly gaming in mind and even ODE's creator specifically referenced gaming as one of the key areas that the engine would be used for.

        I think it is accurate to say that instead of commonly, these are physi
  • I guess where speed and (digital) resource optimization has been the name of the game for years, so to speak, it should be no surprise that game engines have applications other than keeping neckbeards from scratching their zits.
  • by Osgeld ( 1900440 ) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @08:01PM (#43353519)

    Cause the physics in video games are mostly there for looks and are highly inaccurate

    • by wierd_w ( 1375923 ) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @08:15PM (#43353615)

      Mostly that has to do with incorrect/inappropriate weights being assigned to gameworld objects.

      Many world objects weight exactly the same as styrofoam, but somehow have enough kinetic energy when thrown to instagib the bad guy. Others are made to weigh 100x that of lead, but somehow actually get tossed by an explosion instead of simply pushed a little.

      If they plug in sane values for mass, center of mass, "bounciness", elasticity, inertia, and gravity, the should get mostly useful simulations. Issues with air pressure (it is an enclosed space, with an explosive charge, after all) might cause problems, but adapting it with another added value as a delta to object vectors (with a fall off radius) would fix it somewhat.

    • by Nemyst ( 1383049 ) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @08:53PM (#43353901) Homepage
      The physics simulations are usually pretty accurate. They're limited by a few factors:
      -Developer incompetence: the framework you use may be good, but if you botch it up when integrating or give it insane values like huge boulders weighting a gram, it's not gonna look realistic.
      -Real-time limitations: physics is largely simulated iteratively, and thus the larger the step the worse the simulation as errors tend to appear and propagate more when the system is infrequently simulated; if the step is lowered, many problems entirely go away.
      -Networking limitations: many games these days are built with the idea of a multiplayer mode, so the engine is geared towards minimizing data transmission and latency at the cost of accuracy.
      -Game focus: the physics engine isn't the focus, so it's usually not given a whole lot of processing power, which once again forces approximations; it's also not unusual for things to be tweaked so that they look good, even if that makes them inaccurate, because it's a game.

      I'm pretty sure you can get some fairly nice results from the better physics engines if you tweak them to match your needs.
  • by MiniMike ( 234881 ) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @08:11PM (#43353579)

    adapted for games such as Grand Theft Auto IV

    1) Blast the rock into pieces.
    2) Slap the pieces until the metal falls out.
    3) Profit!

    • 4) avoid litigation when the "hot coffee" easter egg gets accidentally (on purpose) unlocked on the geological simulation system, under the codename "rock her world."

  • The engine name (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @08:24PM (#43353721)

    The engine name is Bullet and it's pretty good to work with. I have done some AR stuff with it:

  • Mountaintop removal, powered by Unreal technology.
    If you use cryengine, you can move mountains.
  • by Hentes ( 2461350 ) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @09:13PM (#43354017)

    As awesome as Bullet is as a physics engine, it was meant for realtime gaming to precise simulation.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yep. Bullet and comparable engines rely on a great deal of cheats and fakes to gracefully maintain stability and speed. If you've just got a couple of boxes knocking around in a scene, Bullet will be pretty accurate. But when you've got thousands of small fragments colliding with each other at high velocities, you run in to all sorts of hairy problems that are better solved using more robust methods. Hopefully they will be comparing the results to the DEM simulations to verify their validity. Judging by TFA

  • ...or approximations of it. For this kind of simulations, there are are tools that are better, where "better" means more accurate, reliable and reproducible. Finite elements, for example, is one of them. Everything else is just horse manure covered with M&M's.

God helps them that themselves. -- Benjamin Franklin, "Poor Richard's Almanac"