NASA Team Tests Robots at Exhibition Coal Mine

BECKLEY, W.Va. (WOAY) – Miners haven’t extracted coal from the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine in years, but this week, they’ve been working with NASA on something a bit different after hours.

A team from NASA is at the mine this week to test out a number of robots they plan to enter in a competition. The first phase of that project ends next month, so the timer is ticking for the team of 50 from across the globe.

The robots will hopefully end up in space to explore caves on other planets and moons. However, they could serve another purpose: saving lives on Earth.

“The idea is we would be sending a team of robots to a mine or cave or a subway where there has been some type of disaster,” said robotics technologist Benjamin Morrell. “For example, in a mine collapse, they’re going to go in to explore, create maps and look for signs of humans.”

Morrell and one of his team members talked to a few kids at a day camp about their project.

Watch the video for more information.

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Kassie Simmons joined the team in January 2019 as a weekend journalist. She graduated from Virginia Tech in just two and a half years with a BA in multimedia journalism. During her short time at Virginia Tech, she served as the editor for the university’s chapter of The Tab. Kassie was named the top reporter for The Tab at Virginia Tech on multiple occasions and made the list for the top 30 reporters for The Tab in the U.S. She also studied theater performance and minored in creative writing. Before coming to WOAY, Kassie interned at WSLS in Roanoke and the Tidewater Review in her hometown of West Point, Va. She has loved following breaking news since her childhood and has a passion for delivering the stories people care most about. Kassie is excited to be working in Southern West Virginia and looks forward to all the adventures ahead of her. You can follow her on Twitter at @KassieLSimmons and like her page on Facebook. If you have a story you think she should check out, send her an email at