Tag Archives: SLAM

Emesent unveils ‘new standard’ in survey-grade autonomous LiDAR mapping

Emesent, today, unveiled Hovermap ST, the latest version of its leading Hovermap autonomy and mapping payload, at the SME MineXchange Conference & Expo in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The tough, lightweight, IP65 rated Hovermap ST includes Emesent’s new automated ground control feature.

This powerful combination is poised to set the standard for survey-grade autonomous LiDAR mapping in challenging environments, it said.

Since its 2019 launch, Hovermap, the company says, has made significant impacts in mining and other verticals, earning a reputation for its versatility, ease of use and mapping data quality. With thousands of hours of autonomous flight logged by customers around the world, it is the most proven LiDAR mapping and autonomy solution for challenging GPS-denied environments, Emesent claims.

Hovermap ST with the ground control feature builds on this reputation with significant improvements, allowing autonomous data capture in even harsher environments and for a wider range of use cases.

“We’re excited to be providing our customers with a new robust and reliable autonomous mapping tool for challenging environments, including those that were previously not well suited to SLAM-based mapping,” Emesent CEO and Co Founder Dr Stefan Hrabar, said.

Simultaneous localisation and mapping (SLAM) based systems have proved their value for rapid mapping of complex environments, but achieving survey grade accuracy and repeatability has been a challenge in some environments. Surveyors were faced with a compromise between fast data capture and data accuracy, depending on the job requirements, the company said.

“This is no longer the case with Hovermap ST and the automated ground control feature, as the feature enhances the SLAM solution to remove SLAM drift and produce survey grade, georeferenced point clouds,” Emesent said

“This is a huge step forward for mobile mapping, providing unrivaled SLAM accuracy and workflow efficiencies,” Dr Hrabar added.

Emesent ground control targets are placed in the environment and captured in a continuous scan with Hovermap ST. There is no need to stop or place Hovermap on the targets, ensuring the capture process remains as efficient as before. The targets are automatically detected by Emesent’s SLAM processing engine and used to both improve the SLAM result and automatically georeference the point cloud to the control points. The process includes automated constellation matching between detected targets and known survey coordinates, eliminating cumbersome manual work which can introduce errors.

Hovermap ST features a lightweight, IP65 weather sealed design, a powerful embedded computer for autonomy and mapping, and an accessory expansion port to further enhance its capabilities. The rotating LiDAR produces up to 600,000 points per second in dual return mode, covering a near spherical field of view.

Hovermap’s Tap-to-Fly autonomy feature enables Guided Exploration in previously inaccessible areas beyond line of sight and communication range. The omni-directional collision avoidance and smart Return-To-Home functions ensure assets are kept safe and valuable equipment isn’t damaged or lost, Emesent says.

Emesent takes drone autonomy to another level with AL2

Emesent says it has announced a major breakthrough in the journey to fully autonomous drone flight systems, with the launch of Autonomy Level 2 (AL2) for Hovermap, the world’s first plug-and-play payload for industrial drones that provides autonomous beyond line of sight, GPS-denied flight.

Building on Emesent’s Hovermap simultaneous localisation and mapping autonomous (SLAM) flight system, AL2 enables compatible drones to fly beyond communications range and venture beyond line of sight into unmapped areas, it says.

“The AL2 technology enables companies to rapidly map, navigate, and collect data in challenging inaccessible environments such as mines, civil construction works, telecommunications infrastructure, and disaster response environments,” Emesent said.

Andrew Rouse, Chief Technology Officer at PYBAR Mining Services, a user of the Hovermap payload, said: “AL2 is a game changer for us. It takes Hovermap into places that even the most experienced pilots would fear to venture, enabling us to obtain critical data in real time without risking the machine. We’re already seeing great benefits to our workflow and operational efficiency from using the new technology.”

PYBAR has previously collaborated with Emesent to test automated drones at the Dargues and Woodlawn operations, in Australia.

Emesent’s technology builds on a decade of award-winning research by CSIRO’s Robotics and Autonomous Systems group into drone autonomy and 3D LiDAR-based SLAM techniques.

Customers around the world have been using Hovermap’s Autonomy Level 1 capability for almost two years, safely mapping challenging GPS-denied areas within line of sight. Moving to AL2 means the drone can self-navigate and avoid obstacles beyond line of sight, while being operated from take-off to landing from a safe distance, the company explained.

The system processes data on-board in real time to stream a 3D map of the environment back to the operator’s tablet, providing instant and detailed insights into the surrounding area, as well as any potential hazards. The entire mission from take-off to landing is conducted by interacting with the live view 3D map, allowing stopes to be mapped with just a few taps, Emesent claims.

AL2, according to Emesent, will give industrial customers:

  • Improved safety, with the ability to fly beyond line of sight keeping workers away from hazardous environments and better data insights informing how to make mines and other environments safer;
  • Cost optimisation, as it is quicker to scan environments and the technology requires less skill to operate;
  • Reduced downtime, with the drone able to quickly and easily map inaccessible underground excavations, with minimal disruption to production;
  • 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 aircraft; and
  • Ease of operation due to its “Tap-to-Fly” and “Guided Exploration” functionalities, and various fail safes, including automatic return to home on low battery and automatic landing at critical battery level.

AL2 is currently compatible with several DJI Enterprise drones including the new DJI Matrice 300 RTK, according to Emesent.

“Emesent has worked closely with DJI to ensure close compatibility and integration of autonomous functionality such as AL2 with the drone’s flight controls,” it said. “Further compatibility with other drone models is planned following the launch.”

Dr Stefan Hrabar, CEO and co-Founder of Emesent, said: “This is a huge step forward for drone autonomy and a massive benefit to industries like mining, civil construction, and emergency response.

“With the intelligence to navigate environments without a prior map, customers can use the system to carry out complex missions, secure the safety of personnel, and drive greater efficiency in their operations.”