Tag Archives: Drones

Strayos, Squadrone combine AI and drone mapping nous to optimise Indian mining sector

US-based Strayos and India-based Squadrone have announced a new partnership that will combine mine-to-mill artificial intelligence-based solutions with drone surveying to “bring futuristic mines to more sites in India”, Strayos CEO, Ravi Sahu, says.

Squadrone bills itself as being one of the most progressive companies in the application of aerial intelligence in the mining industry in India, providing tailor-made UAV solutions for various applications from mining to drilling & blasting to disaster management. It provides drone mapping, surveying and site digitalisation services to its clients to efficiently manage their site’s day-to-day operations in mining, it says.

Strayos is an AI-based company that uses data from a diverse range of smart tools, edge devices and sensors, including drones, to create 3D digital models of sites. Site digitalisation is further enhanced by Strayos’ end-to-end site AI tools that analyse data from various sources to shape safe and immediately usable key insights, automation and accurate predictions, it says.

This collaboration will pave the way for novel holistic site-level insights, according to the companies. Along with the digital 3D site model created from drone data, users can now leverage Strayos’ Geology Detection AI, Drill & Blast AI and Site Analytics AI, with inventory management. With the addition of these tools, mining stakeholders across numerous site operations will be able to pool and access data from the entire operation, according to the companies.

For instance, blasting engineers will have access to geological data when designing blasts, drillers will be able to accurately predict how their drilling affects the mill’s performance and mine engineers will be able to plan site design with precision based on up-to-date geology and optimised drilling & blasting to reduce load and haul costs.

Brad Gyngell, COO, Strayos, said: “Mining in India is going through a major transformation presently, with drones and AI being the perfect tools to accelerate these advancements. We couldn’t be more excited to collaborate with Squadrone and deliver superior solutions to our customers in India.”

Cyriac Joseph, CEO, Squadrone, Bangalore, India, said: “We pride ourselves on being able to provide the mining industry with the best services and the best products in open-pit mining, drilling and blasting, rock mechanics, mine safety and underground mining. Our boots on the ground and Strayos’ cloud-based Al tools will greatly benefit the Indian mining industry with these specialised applications to facilitate amazing analytics with visual intelligence through drone technology.”

Propeller Aero and Quantum Systems team up to improve drone survey accuracy and time

Propeller Aero, the drone data visualisation and analytics platform, and Quantum-Systems, the Unmanned Aircraft Systems developer, have announced their joint effort to include compatibility of Propeller’s site surveying and 3D mapping software with Quantum-Systems’ Trinity F90+ drone.

Propeller’s Post-Processed Kinematic solution (PPK) enables seamless surveying and 3D mapping of work sites across the construction, mining and earthworks industries. Coupled with Quantum-Systems’ Trinity F90+ drone, a dedicated large scale mapping drone, contractors will be able to improve survey accuracy, condense their traditionally weeks-long data collection process into a few hours, and quickly share digital models among their broader work site teams, according to the companies.

Designed and manufactured in Germany, the Trinity F90+ drone builds on Quantum-Systems’ previous F9 model and makes electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft accessible to customers at an affordable price point without compromising technical quality or usability, the company says. Additionally, the Trinity F90+ drone can fly for up to 90 minutes – well beyond the industry standard of 60 minutes – allowing earthworks professionals to survey larger worksites more efficiently, and it comes with the broadest choice of integrated sensors in the industry, it added.

“Today’s contractors and surveyors are eager to adopt new technologies that modernise workflows and allow them to analyse more aspects of their worksite than ever before,” Richie Hadfield, Head of Product at Propeller Aero, said. “The clients we work with are doing cutting-edge work in the construction, earthworks, and mining space and are already using drone technology to accelerate project timelines, reduce costly rework, and create safer environments for their employees. Our new partnership with Quantum-Systems gives our customers in Europe and around the world even more ways to achieve this increased efficiency and accuracy with the highly advanced F90+ drone.”

To use the combined solution, surveyors place Propeller AeroPoints™ (smart ground control points) around the work site, fly the Trinity F90+ drone above to collect survey data and upload that data to Propeller’s cloud-based platform where it is processed and available to use within 24 hours.

“The drone industry has progressed a lot over the last couple of years, along with customer expectations,” Florian Seibel, Co-founder and CEO of Quantum-Systems, said. “It is no longer reasonable to have customers figure out a complete solution for their needs. As a technology company, we listen to our customers and understand their needs and how best to address them. With the full Trimble Stratus solution completed with Trinity F90+, customers can proactively finish their projects from end to end.”

Flight Safety Foundation helping miners assess drone risks

Flight Safety Foundation’s Basic Aviation Risk Standard (BARS) Program, working in collaboration with some of the world’s largest mining and resource companies, has developed the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) Audit and Registration Program to, it says, provide the industry with a more efficient means of monitoring, assessing, and analysing risks associated with RPAS.

With airspace more accessible than ever and RPAS technology outpacing many legal and safety frameworks, there is an urgent need for greater oversight of RPAS operations to ensure the safety of those living and working around them, Flight Safety Foundation said.

The RPAS Audit and Registration Program will help businesses manage RPAS risks more efficiently and effectively through a variety of measures, including detailed reporting of events and information sharing.

Flight Safety Foundation, meanwhile, is an independent, international and impartial non-profit that exists to champion the cause of aviation safety, it says. The foundation established the BARS Program in 2010 to review aviation operators providing aviation services to the resources and other sectors.

“An RPAS Audit using registered BARS Audit Companies and accredited RPAS Auditors provides evaluation of operations and technical management systems of an RPAS operator,” it said. “It is a comprehensive audit with the objective of clearly articulating and verifying what procedures, processes and systems the RPAS operator has in place to mitigate risk.”

David Anderson, BARS Program Director, said RPAS are critical to business operations for a range of sectors and used within a multitude of operations enabling data collection, enhancing security, and improving productivity.

“However, with new technology comes new risks, and RPAS-related accidents and incidents can result in expensive damage to property and infrastructure, as well as injuries and even fatalities,” he said.

As part of the program, a global data analysis program will record knowledge and intelligence on the hazards and risks associated with the use of RPAS vehicles. This information will be used to ensure the appropriate controls within the audit standard are in place, updated and effective.

Dr Hassan Shahidi, President and CEO of the Foundation, said: “Enabling organisations to more effectively mitigate risk is critical to continually improving the safety and reliability of their RPAS operations. In addition, the adoption of a global standard should result in a broad safety improvement across the sector.”

Anderson added: “The BARS Program is proud to be a part of this ongoing investment in improving safety within the contracted aviation industry.”

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.”