14/12/20 – Mining / Autonomous / Data / Drone / Mapping / Underground / Emesent / Hovermap / IMARC

Ground-breaking autonomy from Emesent maps future of the ‘Digital Mine’
Ground-breaking autonomy from Emesent maps future of the ‘Digital Mine’

The efficient and safe running of underground mines poses challenges, with large, inaccessible areas that require regular inspection. However, autonomous data capture could change the way mines are planned and operated, said Dr Stefan Hrabar, CEO of Emesent, at the recent IMARC 2020 event. 

From driving efficiencies to improving health and safety, increased data capture is unarguably vital to improving all areas of operation in underground mines. Yet the existing solution for inaccessible areas – a cavity monitoring system (CMS) – is not only time-consuming but also produces poor quality, and incomplete scans, while putting mining engineers and surveyors at risk.

In response to such challenges, Emesent – a world-leader in drone autonomy, LiDAR mapping, and data analytics – has developed an innovative solution. The Australian firm’s flagship product, Hovermap, is a smart mobile scanning unit that combines advanced collision avoidance and autonomous flight technologies to map hazardous and GPS-denied environments. The SLAM-based mapper is uniquely versatile, and can be handheld, drone- or vehicle-mounted to map challenging, inaccessible areas. 

Advanced autonomy and anti-collision

Speaking at the recently held International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) Online, Emesent’s CEO and founder, Dr Stefan Hrabar, proposed that autonomous data capture could change the way mines are planned and operated. Designed and manufactured by Emesent, ‘Hovermap’ is an autonomous and versatile SLAM-based mapper that makes data capture safe, fast, and simple. 

Hovermap solves the challenge of underground data capture by using its advanced autonomy and collision avoidance functions to enable GPS-denied flight. This keeps personnel safe, as they can fly Hovermap to scan an area – such as a stope – while standing well back from the brow.

The autonomous flight capability also provides significant time savings, allowing stopes and drives to resume production much sooner, as mapping with Hovermap takes minutes, not hours, as it would with a CMS.

Award-winning autonomy

This ground-breaking autonomy has won Emesent a string of awards, the most recent being the Innovative Mining Solution accolade as part of the Australian Mining 2020 Prospect Awards. 

The award recognised the key accomplishments of Hovermap, which include:

● Reduced costs through rapid scanning (minutes instead of hours), and Hovermap’s autonomous flight that allows anyone, with a few hours of training, to map an area.

● Improved total cost of ownership through its low operating costs and multiple scanning methods and applications (walk, drive, fly or hoist Hovermap to map anywhere).

● Reduced delays to production schedules through rapid scanning (minutes instead of hours), and having accurate, high-quality data of any part of the mine.

● Improved mine safety through having accurate, high-quality data of any part of the mine.

● Enhanced visibility into environments, with real-time point clouds, delivered directly to the pilot’s tablet, enabling them to interact with and explore the scan data as they operate the drone.

● Improved personnel safety through keeping workers away from danger while scanning.

● Ease of operation due to its Tap-to-Fly and Guided Exploration functionalities, and various failsafes, including automatic return to home on low battery

Real-life savings, powered by Hovermap

With a wide range of applications, Hovermap is already being used by customers around the world, including mining giants like Rio Tinto, BHP, Barrick, Newcrest, Glencore, Newmont and Anglo-American.

Real-life savings are already being seen from Hovermap use, including a damage survey after only a few days following a seismic event and fall of ground at LKAB’s Kiruna mine in Sweden. 

The damage was catastrophic – and capturing data of the damaged areas across the mine site with a CMS or terrestrial scanner would have taken weeks, or maybe months, while placing surveyors within unprotected ground. 

With Hovermap, LKAB had accurate data of the damaged areas within a few days after being able to enter the mine and were able to start planning remedial works within weeks of the event. Get the full story in the case study here: https://www.emesent.io/2020/10/30/case-study-lkab-kiruna-seismic-event-inspections/

To learn more about Hovermap and its applications for underground mining, go to: https://www.emesent.io/industries/mining/

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