Tag Archives: Drones

Dwyka and Maestro showcase robotic mobile gas sensing solution at Indaba

Dwyka Mining Services, an authorised reseller of Maestro Digital Mine, has used the 2022 Investing in African Mining Indaba, in Cape Town, South Africa, to premier a new robotic solution that is fitted with Maestro’s IIoT gas sensor.

Boston Dynamics Spot Enterprise robot, equipped with Maestro’s IIoT gas sensor, can be operated on mine sites to detect hazardous gases like carbon monoxide, without putting mining and ventilation teams in danger, the companies say. Ventilation and mining teams will easily be able to add different gas sensors onto the connected Zephyr Air Quality Station, capturing critical environmental data to proactively identify gas or temperature challenges, according to the companies.

Dwyka and Maestro have invested over 10 years of effort and partnership in Africa, all predicated on improving worker safety and productivity in the African mining industry.

Jamie van Schoor, CEO of Dwyka Mining Services, says the established client base of Maestro Digital Mine environmental sensors is allowing both companies to establish mobile technology for broader applications.

“We’re very excited about this integration with Maestro Digital Mine as a future partner payload for Boston Dynamics Spot Enterprise solution and look forward to continually improving worker safety for whole-of-mine deployment with our new best friend, Spot,” he said.

Boston Dynamics Spot Enterprise is an agile mobile robot designed to navigate all types of terrain, allowing organisations to automate routine inspection tasks, capture data securely and safely, and allow for streamlined operations in complex and dangerous environments, the companies say.

Using the Spot Enterprise on-board processing the data is shared wirelessly over Wi-Fi, and gas and temperature sensor readings are captured while the robot is in operation and displayed in real-time via the Maestro Link™ Server application. With the addition of a SLAM scanning unit sensor, like the Emesent Hovermap, readings can be saved with precise coordinates in a high-fidelity point cloud that can be exported and examined in a variety of mining software packages, the companies say.

Michael Gribbons, CEO and Co-Founder of Maestro Digital Mine, said: “Collaborating with our mud-in-boots partner, Dwyka Mining Services, who are always pushing the envelope with technology integration with pioneering brands like Boston Dynamics, is in turn pushing us to innovate and collaborate with our core purpose of enhancing lives by the pursuit of productivity and safety excellence. This relationship will open up immediate opportunities to Dwyka Mining Services and Maestro in Africa and extend mobile environmental monitoring to our current installations at over 170 mines in 38 countries globally using our patented edge-based IIoT sensor technologies once the solution is fully embedded.”

van Schoor added: “We are excited about extracting value from ‘no-go’ and ‘fly low’ mining areas typical at the majority of narrow reef mining operations in southern Africa where the use of enterprise GPS-denied drones become limited. The Spot Enterprise package allows us to access confined spaces and this information could be used to undertake remote gas inspections so that we can accelerate re-entry to target getting ore to surface sooner without comprising safety.”

Mining Indaba delegates are able to see Spot ‘in the metal’ with a Zephyr AQS at booth 908 at Dwyka Technology Showcase Co.<LAB’s booth in its custom see-through kennel, ready to deploy and dock back onto its charging station ahead of its next mission.

With Spot set to perform a number of ‘tricks’ from the stand, the four-day conference will involve experimentation with a series of partner payloads. These devices that can be attached to Spot, extend the robot’s ability to capture and process data, acting as remote sensing devices this will allow Spot to hear, see and smell in a virtual capacity.

Rethabile Letlala, Operations Director Dwyka Mining Services, said: “Spot is an amazing platform with almost unlimited applications. The ability to get live environmental monitoring data ‘on the go’ by extending our remote sensing capability to ‘smell’ for hazardous gas detection from our new robot dog is very exciting.”

Nexxis and Blueprint Lab collaborate on remote maintenance inspection tools

A partnerhip between two leaders in the robotics industry is, the companies say, set to bring the latest inspection technology to industries such as mining, enhancing capabilities in Australia and USA.

Western Australia-based robotic inspection and testing solution provider, Nexxis, has entered a partnership agreement and development collaboration with, Blueprint Lab, an Australia-based robotics company developing advanced robotic arms for harsh environments.

The partnership will enable the world’s smallest underwater robotic arm – Blueprint Lab’s Reach Alpha – to be used by clients to support the inspection and maintenance of their assets.

Nexxis Founder and CEO, Jason De Silveira, said the partnership was great news for the petrochemical, renewable energy and mining industries, ensuring ongoing access to the latest smart technologies.

“We look forward to continuing to collaborate and develop together, while solving both customer and industry challenges with the right solutions,” he said. “Petrol and chemical processing facilities, and mining and renewable energy sites, have infrastructure that needs regular inspection and maintenance.

“Our exciting partnership will enable Blueprint Lab’s robotic arms to be integrated on Nexxis platforms, utilising our state-of-the-art software and technology to offer a complete comprehensive solution for clients tailored to their individual requirements.”

Last year, Nexxis unveiled what it said was the world’s first fully design-approved EX-rated robotic camera inspection device – Magneto-EX.

Exyn Technologies accelerates colourised 3D model capture with ExynPak

Exyn Technologies has unveiled what it says is the world’s first real-time colourised point cloud visualisation on a handheld LIDAR scanner, the ExynPak™.

This accomplishment marks one of Exyn’s many contributions to autonomous robotics across several industries including mining, infrastructure inspection and construction, it said.

Even in its early beta phase, ExynPak users can capture precise, colourised 3D models 20-30 times faster than a traditional stationery tripod or terrestrial scanner, according to the company. Powered by ExynAI™, the ExynPak ‘drapes’ real-time RGB information captured through two hemispherical fixed cameras onto point clouds created by a gimballed Velodyne LIDAR Puck LITE, providing operators a complete colourised 360º view of their environment.

Coming with a three-hour battery life, the ExynPak is capable of capturing dozens of scans in a single shift with a real-time feed ensuring maximum coverage, Exyn said. And further refinement through Exyn’s proprietary post-processing pipeline, ExSLAM, can correct drift to circa-0.1% per distance travelled.

Jason Derenick, CTO, said: “We’ve seen photogrammetry and other post-processed LIDAR scans colorise point clouds through photos and/or RGB data, but this is the first time colourised point clouds have been streamed to an operator in real time. Even in its BETA phase, we’re thrilled with what the team has created.”

The untapped potential of high-fidelity, precise 3D models has already revolutionised workflows in geological studies (mining) and will continue to revolutionise workflows in construction, reality capture, digital twinning, industrial inspection and more, according to Exyn. Equipped with a colorised ExynPak, a one-to-two person surveying team will be capable of capturing entire structures, tunnels and GPS-denied environments in a matter of hours, rather than days or even weeks.

Nader Elm, CEO: “The ExynPak is a powerful new tool with broad applications in many ‘physical’ industries such as construction, infrastructure development and inspection, mining and much more. You can set it down, initialise and begin capturing a realistic 3D model of your environment in minutes and with minimal training.”

Delta Drone to perform virtual 3D model baseline survey for GoviEx at Madaouela

Delta Drone International is set to enter the Niger market for the first time after being contracted by uranium explorer and developer, GoviEx Uranium, to perform a virtual 3D model baseline survey for GoviEx’s Madaouela project.

The baseline survey will be one of the first times Delta Drone International uses its advanced surveying and data capture technology to create a shareable view of a potential mining site to share with GoviEx Uranium stakeholders, it said. These stakeholders are currently unable to attend the site due to current travel restrictions, while the engineering teams will use the results for project construction design.

Over a two-week period, Delta Drone International’s specialist mining pilots will deploy state-of-the-art surveying drones, with the data captured to be used by GoviEx Uranium as the base to build a virtual 3D model of the new site and consult with key international stakeholders, virtually, it said.

Delta Drone International CEO, Christopher Clark, said: “This is the first time Delta Drone International has been commissioned for a project in Niger – a region where aviation, including drone operation, requires military clearance. This project with GoviEx Uranium is an example of the many ways drones are being used to more efficiently share the data needed to guide decision making among business leaders.”

He added: “Working with the GoviEx Uranium team right from the planning phase of their new mine ensures we can seamlessly collate multiple data sets of areas where low-quality, outdated or even no data is available, export it into easy-to-utilise formats and virtually share with their international stakeholders – removing the need for on-site attendance. This type of data capture is likely to be increasingly used in remote sites to support much more efficient and timely stakeholder engagement and decision making around key milestones in projects.”

An updated prefeasibility study from February on Madaouela, based on probable mineral reserves of 54.7 Mlb of U3O8, indicated the company could build a 1 Mt/y operation able to produce 2.48 MIb of U3O8 for 20 years from mostly open-pit reserves.

Nexxis wins AMGC backing for Magneto robotic technology development

Perth, Western Australia-based robotics company Nexxis has been awarded a A$675,000 ($491,420) Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC) Commercialisation Fund grant to assist its efforts commercialising its Magneto technology.

In August, Nexxis unveiled the world’s first fully design-approved EX-rated robotic camera inspection device – Magneto-EX. The spider-like device with its magnetic feet is the first developed system suitable for use in hazardous area inspections, according to Nexxis.

The A$675,000 grant recognises the value Nexxis is bringing to resources technology and critical minerals processing, one of the Federal Government’s six National Manufacturing Priorities, Nexxis says.

Nexxis Founder and Director, Jason De Silveira, said: “Receiving a share of the AMGC Commercialisation Fund will assist Nexxis create jobs, gain new market exposure and continue to drive innovation in the fast-emerging robotics and tech space. Our team is invested in research and development, engineering and manufacturing to develop transformational technologies across a range of sectors vital to Western Australia and Australia’s economic success.

“Robots such as our spider-like robotic crawler, Magneto, designed in our state-of-the-art headquarters in Perth, are revolutionising the energy and mining industries, putting Western Australian innovation on the global map.”

The funding will help accelerate the speed to commercialisation while allowing Nexxis to develop and scale the workforce required to be a global robotic technology company, the company says.

De Silveira said Nexxis had worked closely with partners NERA and CSIRO’s Data61 through the development of Magneto and were now positioning to take its latest technology to market.

“Our goal is to deliver leading-edge inspection, testing and measuring robots – among a range of other equipment – at fleet scale to Australia and the world across a range of industries,” he said.

“The AMGC Commercialisation Fund is helping us take those next steps.”

Sandvik, Exyn combine capabilities in new autonomous mine inspection concept

Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions and Exyn Technologies have furthered their strategic partnership looking at new horizons of mine autonomy with the introduction of the Sandvik Exyn inspection concept.

An autonomous mapping solution that can co-operate with autonomous machines without stopping production, according to Jussi Puura, Research and Technology Development, Digitalization Lead at Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, the pair launched the concept at MINExpo 2021, in Las Vegas, today.

Back in March, the companies expanded the strategic partnership they initially signed in 2020, looking to integrate drone-based data processed using Exyn’s on-board 3D mapping technology with Sandvik’s OptiMine® Mine Visualizer solution for analysis and optimisation of underground mining production and processes.

The integration, the pair said, allows mining customers to benefit from comprehensive underground aerial 3D mapping with visualisation that increases overall transparency of mining operations – including for GPS-denied, hard-to-reach, or hazardous areas, or locations that would be time-consuming to survey and inspect using conventional methods.

Exyn and Sandvik deployed this integrated solution at gold exploration and development company Rupert Resources’ Pahtavaara project in Finland, using the ExynAero drone to autonomously create a 3D point cloud of an underground stope. This 3D data was then uploaded to Sandvik’s OptiMine Mine Visualizer and georeferenced to the CAD mine model for further analysis and visualisation.

The companies said back then that it planned to further develop the partnership to integrate more hardware and software systems, and they have now done just that, premiering the new concept at this week’s MINExpo.

The concept works by an operator indicating the area they want surveyed on the OptiMine 3D visual screens, and then ordering that survey. The ground-based machine then starts the assigned mission at a time that is convenient and does not cause any production interruptions.

After deployment and when the wheeled inspection vehicle cannot drive any further, the on-board autonomous UAV is deployed to complete the survey of the area of interest.

When the survey mission is complete, the UAV lands on the ground-based robot and both return to the charging station to await the next mission. The data from both vehicles is then automatically uploaded to the Sandvik Data Management Server, part of the OptiMine suite.

The server processes all data automatically and georeferences it to existing data in the server, using the survey team’s data as ‘anchors’ and ‘ground rules’ for the new data. The data is automatically merged into an updated model of the mine.

In addition to merging and ‘cleaning’ the data, the system can be set up to run automated analysis on the data. For example, automatic reports on change detection, shrinkage detection, road condition, etc can be run after every survey.

The solution results in better planning, increased safety and less production stops, according to the companies.

Skycatch maps out autonomous mining future with DJI M300 mapping, analytics solution

San Francisco-based Skycatch has been making waves in the drone space with a range of mapping solutions tailored for mining applications but, according to Chief Technology Officer, David Chen, it thinks of itself as a “software-first company”.

He explained to IM: “We are really a computer vision company, and we focus on building not only the drone solution, but the software that enables it.”

This sees the company provide data capture automation, processing, visualisation and analysis tools to the industry for efficient decision making.

Chen added: “We work with a number of the top mining companies across the globe, providing them with unique solutions that they are using every day to complement their existing survey processes.”

The company, which has become a leader in highwall mapping through these solutions, is expanding beyond surveys into other areas.

This will be facilitated through software like its Flight1X, a cloud-based solution designed specifically for the recently launched DJI M300 drone that, Skycatch says, delivers unprecedented drone mapping accuracy and inspection automation for operations like mines. The proprietary software offers the most complete end-to-end high precision industrial drone capabilities available today, according to the company.

Flight1X, launched at MINExpo 2021 today, comes with proven data and network security via Skycatch servers in the USA, with the Android-based flight planning application running on the M300 Smart Controller. When combined with Datahub, Skycatch’s cloud-based solution, the pair offer mission planning and data visualisation.

Chen expanded on some of these capabilities.

“The majority of drone software out there has been focused on 2D mapping, whereas we have seen that mining, which comes with dynamic and undulating terrain, requires something different.

“What we are building is an automated mission planner where the primary view is of 3D terrain. This planner allows you to bring in existing terrain data from elsewhere or capture and process data from our own platform. The user can then rotate around this map and see the exact mission profile in 3D for improved visualisation and decision making.”

This data integration piece, which hinges on the cloud-based Flight1X platform, could provide Skycatch with an ‘in’ to the tailings dam monitoring market.

“While we’re already providing some survey solutions for tailings dams, the combination of high precision survey (with cm-level precision) for dam movements, fully automated section missions based on RGB and thermal imaging, and machine learning could provide data on dam seepage, for instance,” Chen said.

“We also want to integrate IoT sensors around dam movement and other areas into this cloud-based platform to provide an overall view of the tailings management facility.”

Skycatch is currently working on integrating the DJI M300 and L1 & P1 sensors – purpose built for mapping and surveying – into its offering, with Chen seeing the process as just the next stage in facilitating the autonomous mine of the future.

“The one thing that fully autonomous mines need is a map of the mine for these autonomous machines to operate off,” he said. “We have a focus on making data more accurate, accessible and faster; making it faster is the key for fully autonomous mining.

“Right now, with the current photogrammetry process, it’s still: capture, process and wait a few hours for a map. To be fully autonomous, you need that dynamic map in near real time, which is what we can offer the industry.”

Hexagon reveals two new autonomous reality capture solutions

Hexagon AB has announced the introduction of the Leica BLK ARC and the Leica BLK2FLY, extending its BLK series of autonomous reality capture solutions.

The Leica BLK ARC is a laser scanning sensor purposely built to improve the autonomous navigation of robots and other carrier platforms to deliver fully autonomous mobile laser scanning, Hexagon explains.

Combining its speed, accuracy and versatility with robotics, the BLK ARC addresses the growing demand for autonomous solutions that can safely and repeatedly capture accurate 3D point clouds and panoramic images of changing environments with minimal user intervention, it added.

The Leica BLK2FLY is the world’s first fully integrated, autonomous flying laser scanning sensor, the company claims.

“With a few simple taps on a tablet, users can quickly and easily scan structures and environments accurately and entirely from the air,” the company said. “The airborne scanning provides value across multiple industries in need of accurate data of inaccessible or hard-to-reach areas (eg façade projections, rooftops), ensuring complete capture of a structure’s exterior features and dimensions.”

The BLK ARC and BLK2FLY connect directly to Hexagon’s cloud-based visualisation platform, HxDR, where immediate data upload from the field, artificial intelligence-enabled cloud processing and storage of the captured data enables instant delivery of a purpose-built smart digital reality to anyone who needs it.

Hexagon President and CEO, Ola Rollén, said: “The BLK2FLY and BLK ARC illustrate Hexagon’s commitment to empowering an autonomous future with smart digital realities. The purposefully integrated sensor-software systems are tailored to bring autonomous agility and speed to any reality capture workflow. The robots, sensors and software work together, dynamically adjusting reality capture missions to offer seemingly limitless business applications – from as-built site documentation for buildings to monitoring and situational awareness of remote or hazardous environments, such as mines, factory floors, off-shore facilities, fire investigations and more.”

While the first robotic compatibility for the BLK ARC is with the Boston Dynamics Spot, it can be integrated with other autonomous robotic carriers, according to the company.

The BLK2FLY introduces the next generation of flight safety with advanced autonomous obstacle avoidance. Sensor fusion of LiDAR, radar, cameras and GNSS ensures optimal and safe flight paths, it said.

Propeller Aero to integrate with new DJI drone, sensor for rapid and precise site mapping

Propeller Aero, the drone data visualisation and analytics platform, and DJI, a leader in civilian drones and aerial imaging technology, have expanded their partnership to include compatibility of Propeller’s site surveying and 3D mapping software with DJI’s Matrice 300 RTK drone (M300) and Zenmuse P1 sensor (P1).

Propeller’s data processing platform is, the company says, uniquely designed for site surveying and 3D mapping for the construction, earthworks and mining industries. When combined with DJI’s advanced M300 drone, which features a refined propulsion system and longer flight time, the solution can rapidly and precisely map hundreds of acres accurately within 30 mm, making it ideal for surveying medium-to-large scale work sites such as highways, industrial complexes and mines.

The Zenmuse P1 is DJI’s newest flagship sensor, designed specifically for photogrammetry missions. Integrating a full-frame sensor on a three-axis, stabilised gimbal, it substantially increases efficiency and accuracy for surveying and mapping applications, according to Propeller.

“Drone survey data and 3D site maps provide teams across the worksite a single source of truth to better plan, track, inspect and work more safely and efficiently,” the company says. “Additionally, by facilitating quicker data collection, expanding coverage, and offering more real-time progress data, site managers can reduce labour costs and optimise available machinery.”

Jack Nachazel, Customer Success Engineer at Propeller Aero, said: “Work sites have never been as safe, efficient and data-empowered as they are today, thanks to the advances in technology use on-site.

“Our customers are building everything from airports to highways, using a drone that can best capture the unique characteristics of their site. Through our expanded partnership with DJI, they will now be able to streamline their data collection and processing with the powerful M300 drone, which many of our customers are already using.”

To use the solution, surveyors place Propeller AeroPoints™ (smart ground control points) around the worksite, fly the M300 drone above to collect survey data and upload that data to Propeller’s cloud-based platform where it is processed within 24 hours.

The full solution will be available through Propeller’s channel partnership with Trimble®, a leader in positioning technologies, and through its SITECH® distribution network as Trimble Stratus, powered by Propeller, a 3D cloud-based visualisation platform developed by Propeller which integrates with Trimble Connected Site® solutions.

Nevada Gold Mines (owned 61.5% by Barrick, 38.5% by Newmont) is one mining company to have used Trimble Stratus, powered by Propeller, to help measure stockpiles at its mine sites across Nevada.

Nexxis unveils first EX-rated robotic camera device for hazardous area inspections

The world’s first fully design-approved EX-rated robotic camera inspection device – Magneto-EX – was officially unveiled in Perth, Western Australia, yesterday.

The brainchild of Western Australia-based robotics firm Nexxis, the spider-like device with its magnetic feet is the first developed system suitable for use in hazardous area inspections, according to Nexxis.

Nexxis’ managing director, Jason De Silveira, says Magneto-EX is a game changer for any industry where there is a need for hazardous, confined space inspections.

“Whether it’s operating at heights, deep underground or in the presence of toxic chemicals, industrial worksites are dangerous places,” he said. “And confined spaces pose the biggest risk in terms of death or injury. Anything that can be done to keep humans out of these environments is a great step forward.

“Until now, robotic inspections haven’t been possible in confined and hazardous spaces due to the risk of ignition. But Magneto-EX changes all that. With its design approved, EX-certification, our prototype can work safely and reliably in the most extreme conditions, alleviating the risk to human operators.”

Working in confined spaces is estimated to be 100-150 times more hazardous than operating on an open site. By their nature, confined spaces are not designed for people to work in with poor ventilation allowing for hazardous atmospheres to quickly develop.

“With its stable navigation and seamless movement, Magneto-EX can place its feet in small gaps and on narrow beams, adapting its body configuration to navigate complex geometry and through narrow apertures,” De Silveira says.

“We’re confident Magneto-EX will not only save lives but will also dramatically reduce downtime costs at an industry-wide level.”

Western Australia’s Minister for Innovation and ICT, the Hon Don Punch MLA, said the state government was a proud supporter of the Western Australia-based robotics firm.

“Nexxis’ Magneto-EX is a prime example of how the Western Australia’s robotics sector is thriving and competing globally,” Punch said.

“Innovation has an important role to play in growing and diversifying the state’s economy, and the Western Australian Government is committed to nurturing local innovators.”

Western Australia Chief Scientist Professor, Peter Klinken, added: “Nexxis is a prime example of how innovative and technological expertise can be found right here in Western Australia. It’s fantastic to have a world leading robotics company based in Western Australia and I look forward to seeing Magneto-EX make a real difference to safety levels in the resources sector and beyond.”

Magneto-EX has been developed with the financial assistance and industry support of NERA (National Energy Resources Australia) as well as CSIRO’s Data61 and SixDe.

NERA’s CEO, Miranda Taylor, said it had been exciting to help Nexxis on its journey.

“NERA’s support of Nexxis dates back to 2018 when they were a team of just eight, and it’s been wonderful to have been able to provide that early support to them as they have grown,” Taylor said. “We’re so excited about the Magneto-EX project which we think can both help cut costs but more importantly save lives.

“The next step is for Nexxis to partner with some early adopters in industry and trial and refine the device, all leading to a commercially available version sometime next year.

“Nexxis is helping to position Australia as a world-leader in automated robotic inspection research and manufacturing. They’re already exporting robotic parts to help with the clean-up at the Fukushima nuclear plant. Magneto-EX is a major step forward in safer inspections in the industry.”