Tag Archives: UAVs

Emesent achieves ‘industry first’ flight with DJI drone

Emesent has allowed DJI’s M300 drone to fly autonomously underground in what it believes to be a world first for the platform.

The flights took place on August 4 at the Round Oak Minerals-owned Mt Colin copper mine in Cloncurry, Queensland, and were followed by similarly successful flights at another underground mine in north Queensland on August 13, Emesent said.

Emesent’s Hovermap LiDAR mapping and autonomy payload was used to add advanced autonomy to the newly launched DJI Matrice 300 RTK (M300). Coupling Hovermap with the M300 allows users to let the drone fly autonomously and safely into GPS-denied or inaccessible environments, such as densely packed warehouses, the undersides of bridges and in underground mines, Emesent says.

Mt Colin Mine Surveyor, Ashley Tibbles, said the Emesent technology would enable Round Oak to safely access complex locations quickly, and to a high degree of detail.

“Quality data has always been integral to safety and productivity in the underground mining sector,” Tibbles said. “The Hovermap provides an unparalleled platform to deliver this.”

Hovermap uses the LiDAR data and advanced algorithms on-board, in real time, to provide reliable and accurate localisation and navigation without the need for GPS, Emesent says.

Emesent CEO, Dr Stefan Hrabar, said the success of the underground flights with the Hovermap-enabled M300 will open up new possibilities for underground mines.

“The M300 is an excellent match for carrying Hovermap underground because of its flight endurance, IP rating, and ability to carry additional sensors such as cameras,” he said. “This will allow valuable data capture further into inaccessible areas of the mines.”

Dr Hrabar added: “Robust underground flight technology can significantly extend the capability of industrial drones and will deliver real benefits to the mining, construction and emergency response sectors.

“We’re looking forward to partnering with customers to help them derive competitive advantage from this breakthrough technology.”

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.”

SUEK-Kuzbass takes to the skies for surveying and land management surveys

SUEK says it has purchased six unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) with various modifications intended for aerial photography during surveying operations of its Kuzbass facilities, in the Kemerovo region of Russia.

The decision to develop the company’s fleet of UAVs was made after a test of aerial photography at SUEK’s open-pit mines in the Krasnoyarsk region and Buryatia, the company said. “After analysing the accuracy and detail of 3D terrain models obtained using UAVs, SUEK concluded that this technology could be used for surveying and land management in mining,” it said.

In August 2018, the Aerial Surveying Office was established as part of the technical directorate in Kuzbass. Today, the office is equipped with two Russia-made UAVs capable of making aerial photographs at a height up to 1 km, with a flight duration of two-and-a-half and four hours, respectively.

SUEK’s fleet also includes four compact DJI drones and a GNSS receiver that makes it possible to receive and process signals from all navigation satellite systems that exist today, it says. This latter device enables surveyors to locate UAVs during aerial photography.

Simultaneously with the procurement of equipment and staff training, the Aerial Surveying Office has made efforts to satisfy the requirements of the mandatory registration of UAVs with the Federal Air Transport Agency, to ensure compliance with legislation governing the use of Russian airspace, the process of aerial photography and the operation of UAVs, SUEK said.

The technology is helping the company solve a whole range of issues related to open-pit mining, such as evaluating the size of coal storage facilities, monitoring hazardous situations, updating topographic plans of work areas and surrounding territories, and monitoring the use of company land. The latter includes actual use of allotted land, the intended purpose of the land, reclamation, demolition control in buffer zones and property stock taking, the company said.

Anatoly Meshkov, Technical Director of SUEK-Kuzbass, said: “First of all, UAVs improve the efficiency and safety of surveying measurements and the accuracy of necessary calculations. We can now remotely control mining operations at almost any point and build digital enterprise models.

“Essentially, this is another step towards creating a ‘digital underground mine’ and a ‘digital open-pit mine’ to obtain the maximum amount of data for highly efficient management of coal production processes.”

Exyn drones help Rupert Resources map Pahtavaara gold mine

Exyn Technologies says it has completed a successful mission for Rupert Resources at its historic Pahtavaara gold mine in northern Finland.

By harnessing Exyn’s autonomous drones, Rupert Resources was able to produce highly detailed 3D models of the mine, which is otherwise completely inaccessible to traditional CMS tools or even manually piloted drones, Exyn said.

“Rupert Resources needed to plan for a potential restart of operations by estimating tonnage previously removed from the mine, as well as calculating the remaining ore in heavily restricted areas,” the company said.

Exyn’s fully autonomous aerial robots mapped 30 stopes in three days with a single drone. In addition, Exyn mounted a version of its robot to a car to scan all access drifts which, together with the stope maps, provided a complete mine map in under four days.

Jukka Nieminen, Managing Director of Rupert Finland, said: “Rupert is actively seeking new technologies where we think big gains can be made in terms of safety, productivity and accuracy.

“Exyn achieved accurate assessment of the volume of remaining stopes at Pahtavaara with an unprecedented level of detail, and obviously the use of remote technologies means that this was achieved with a greatly reduced degree of risk. We have no hesitation in recommending this technology.”

Exyn’s autonomous drones are built on the exynAI™ platform, enabling aerial robots to fly intelligently without a human pilot using a multitude of high-tech sensors and AI-based software, the company says. The system operates without the need for GPS or external communications, and is deployed as an all-in-one software and hardware package.

Raffi Jabrayan, Director of Markets & Industries, Exyn Technologies, said: “Our mission with Rupert presented some of the most difficult and seemingly impossible challenges to navigating, analysing, and assessing a mine – which therefore makes it exemplary in demonstrating the heights of Exyn’s capabilities.

“Our AI-based software and state-of-the-art sensors were able to get the job done quickly and safely, proving once again that no exploration task is impossible for Exyn drones.”

Terra Drone captures North America market share with UAS Inc deal

Japan’s Terra Drone is to form a new subsidiary in Canada, Terra Drone Mining, following the signing of an investment agreement with Ontario-based Unmanned Aerial Services Incorporated (UAS Inc).

Established in 2017, UAS inc is an inspection service provider for indoor industrial confined spaces and underground mine locations. It counts among its clients some of the world’s leading mining companies including Vale, Newmont Goldcorp, Barrick Gold, and Glencore.

The agreement will see Terra Drone Mining provide cutting-edge unmanned mapping and inspection services to underground mines across the world, according to Terra Drone, with the investment allowing the newly-formed company to expand UAS Inc’s business beyond North America into South/Central America, South Africa, Central Asia, Russia, and Australia.

Terra Drone said: “Accidents in underground mines have remained a serious issue around the world throughout the last century. Workers not only suffer from health issues caused by working in dark and narrow tunnels day after day, but they are also prone to accidents caused by falling material, flooding, as well as underground fires and explosions.

“The risk of such incidents can be minimised by using unmanned inspection solutions, aka drones.”

Terra Drone uses a mapping technology called Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping (SLAM) to create highly detailed maps of underground areas. Since a drone can reach areas that are not easily or safely accessible to humans or traditional CMS scanners, mine operators can use drones to obtain 3D models of the mines, and prevent workers from entering hazardous locations.

Terra Drone concluded: “Terra Drone Mining will be able to leverage both this advanced UAV technology as well as the underground mining inspection know-how that UAS Inc has cultivated over time to create a robust local service network.”

DJI and Delair team up to improve operational efficiencies using drones

DJI, a civilian drones and aerial imaging technology company, and Delair, a provider of visual data management solutions for enterprise, have announced a partnership that will see the two companies collaborate on enhanced and integrated solutions for visual data collection and analysis for businesses.

The partnership will include an agreement for Delair to sell DJI products through its worldwide sales channel, along with launching a relationship to build compatibility across platforms, they said. One of the industries likely to benefit from the collaboration is mining.

Jan Gasparic, Director of Strategic Partnerships at DJI, said: “DJI is incredibly excited to be working more closely with the Delair team to support their vision of building a leading software suite.

“At DJI, we aim at providing reliable, scalable drone offerings that empower organisations such as Delair to build software solutions that allow businesses across a range of sectors to benefit from drone data. The partnership is an important agreement that demonstrates an increasing maturity in the enterprise drone industry. It reinforces the benefit of collaboration within the drone ecosystem to deliver more value to customers.”

The partnership builds on the two companies’ success in the enterprise market, and firmly establishes Delair as a leading provider of complete, end-to-end visual intelligence solutions, the two said. DJI drones are, according to the company’s own estimates, the most deployed drone hardware for enterprises today. “This partnership facilitates the accessibility to incorporate both DJI drone products and Delair’s data management platform, providing a hassle-free option for enterprise drone programs,” they said.

Benjamin Benharrosh, Co-Founder and VP Sales at Delair, said drones for enterprise are more than just hardware solutions: the real key is tapping into and leveraging the data these powerful machines can gather.

“DJI’s developer technologies and existing installed base allow Delair to build an industry-leading analytics suite that can be utilised instantly across a customer’s fleet,” he said. “Both DJI and Delair recognise the importance of providing enterprise-calibre solutions from trusted partners to enable true digital transformations by our customers. We are confident this partnership will further accelerate how businesses can improve their operational efficiencies using drones.”

The relationship strengthens Delair’s ability to serve key industry sectors increasingly relying on visual data to drive their businesses, such as construction, transportation and infrastructure, utilities, mining and agriculture, the companies said.

Through the support of DJI systems with the delair.ai platform, customers will now have a one-stop shop and  freedom of choice in using the cloud-based system’s wide range of tools to help derive insights from drone data, including industry-specific analytics tools optimised for specific use cases, the companies said.

Delair’s platform allows companies to manage, process, view, analyse and collaborate around aerial data. In a mining context, this could see firms control and report on inventory, support a safety road map or, optimise and maintain haul roads.

“Some of the off-the-shelf features and analytics for extracting business intelligence include creating digital twins, field inventory calculations, vegetation encroachment, automatic defect detection, automatic stockpile detection and volume measurements, along with any application which is based on AI object detection for asset management,” the companies concluded.

Kespry and DroneBase combine expertise for improved drone-based analytics

Kespry and DroneBase have announced a partnership that, they say, enables insurance, mining, and aggregates enterprises across North America to expand aerial analytics implementation across their work sites.

Kespry’s customers will now be able to leverage DroneBase’s service offering to manage their Kespry deployments as part of Kespry’s new Bring Your Own Drone (BYOD) program, Kespry said. BYOD includes a new platform pricing model designed to meet the expanding enterprise aerial intelligence requirements of multi-site mining and aggregates companies, as well as large-scale residential and commercial property insurers, it explained.

“The combination of Kespry and DroneBase brings the best of the platform and services worlds together, offering a cost-effective, productive way of using drone-based analytics across the largest insurance, mining, and aggregates businesses,” Kespry said.

George Mathew, CEO, Kespry, said: “The combination of Kespry and DroneBase delivers serious value to companies across North America looking for a partner to help scale their usage of Kespry’s aerial intelligence platform and benefit from its granularly-accurate inspection, inventory management and mine planning capabilities.”

Dan Burton, Founder and CEO of DroneBase, said: “With our global pilot network in all 50 states and over 70 countries, DroneBase will enable Kespry clients to scale their drone programs across North America without the cost of investing in hardware. By combining our strengths, DroneBase and Kespry will solve a need within these industries.”

Kespry’s BYOD program gives companies flexibility in how they source their aerial data, the company says, whether customers use Kespry-sourced drone hardware, DroneBase, or their own existing DJI drone fleet, including the DJI Mavic 2 Pro and the DJI Phantom series.

DroneBase, the largest global drone operations company, according to Kespry, can either manage customers’ Kespry deployments or have DroneBase’s global pilot network fly their missions, which can be turned around in 48-72 hours, according to the company. “Kespry now offers a single fee for its platform, including unlimited access to industry-leading, vertically-integrated applications, the Kespry Cloud and AI and ML-based analytics,” it said.

Kespry’s aerial intelligence platform is now deployed at 220 mining and aggregates customers that use its platform across 3,311 worksites across North America, with 22,987 missions in 2018 alone, it said. These companies typically use Kespry for inventory management, mine planning, materials management, contractor benchmarking, and boosting employee safety.

Geoforma helps Delair expand its Mexico offering

Delair, a supplier of commercial drone solutions to markets including mining, has announced an agreement with Geoforma SA de CV, a provider of UAV sales and support to commercial surveyors in Mexico.

As part of the agreement, Geoforma will operate Delair’s first service centres on the ground in Latin America, expanding the company’s international network of sales and support, Delair said.

“Delair has made strong inroads into the Latin American market, with a line of commercial UAV platforms aimed at specific markets such as utilities, power, agriculture and farming, mining, construction, transportation and geospatial,” the company said. “Through the expanded agreement with Geoforma, which has provided sales support for Delair for two years, customers in Mexico will have a highly skilled service operation to assist with repair, maintenance, training and operational optimisation.”

The service centre is located in Mexico City and will offer certified repair and maintenance services, as well as on-line and call support to Delair customers.

Delair worked with Geoforma technicians to certify them on the latest maintenance and repairs processes required to optimise the operations of its UX11 drone. The training took place at Delair’s main manufacturing facility and company headquarters in Toulouse, France.

The Delair UX11 UAV, introduced commercially last year, is one of Delair’s top-of-the-line drones. The fixed-wing unit is a hardware-software platform that provides highly accurate images for survey-grade mapping, with on-board processing capabilities and real-time, long-range control via 3G/4G cellular networks or radio links. The platform’s centimeter-level precision, along with its efficient operational characteristics, make it the most cost-effective solution for large area surveying and mapping.

Stefanie David, Channel Marketing Manager at Delair, said: “Geoforma has distinguished itself as a highly reliable and service-oriented supplier to commercial drone users in key industries in the Mexico market. Their expertise and professionalism are great assets for us as we expand further into Latin America and it’s important that our customers in this region have access to local expert service and support so we can we minimise downtime when their drones require maintenance or repairs.

“Having a team of trained and qualified technicians like Geoforma on the ground in Mexico will ensure a much more efficient service process and reduce the amount of time that our customers’ drones are out of operation due to either routine maintenance or damage from operations.”

All of Delair’s solutions are designed to make it easy for enterprises to adopt commercial drones, and support a seamlessly integrated workflow, from hardware to data acquisition services, and data processing software, the company said. This integrated approach enables industrial enterprises to automatically collect the aerial intelligence, analyse it and quickly integrate it into their daily business processes, with immediate return on investment.

Terra Drone branches out into Kazakhstan UAV market

Japan-based Terra Drone has continued with its global expansion, having invested in a leading UAV company in Kazakhstan, KazUAV.

With this investment, KazUAV joins Terra Drone’s network of over 25 group companies and technology partners committed to providing cutting-edge yet cost-effective drone services across the globe, the leading drone solution said.

Terra Drone said: “Established in 2016, KazUAV is a known name in Kazakhstan’s drone ecosystem, having provided GIS services to several government agencies and private companies.”

In 2018, at the request of the International Civil Aviation Organization, KazUAV mapped six airports in the country, totalling a surveyed area of 4 million hectares. The company is also registered to provide surveillance drone services to the Kazakhstan special forces.

As part of the Terra Drone group, KazUAV will be able to leverage technologies to provide various drone-based services and solutions in Kazakhstan, Terra Drone said. These include power line inspection and vegetation management for the energy sector; onshore/offshore infrastructure inspections, tanks inspections, and non-destructive testing for the oil and gas industry; and open-pit and underground mapping services for the mining sector.

Terra Drone already has more than 25 group companies in its network. Just last year, Terra Drone acquired a majority stake in Europe-based drone service provider Skeye, in addition to making an investment in Sweden-based Inkonova.

 

Airobotics Trion payload to improve drone inspection and security capabilities

Automated drone startup, Airobotics, has unveiled a highly “drone-stabilised” payload for inspection and security applications at ADS’ 2019 Warrior Expo East, in Virginia, USA.

Named Trion, this payload marks Airobotics’ first in-house developed and manufactured sensor for the market – available both with and independent of – its leading automated drone hardware and data insights platform, the company said.

Airobotics’ Trion weighs less than 1.2 kg and has small dimensions, according to Airobotics. This is on top of being a “high-definition, electro-optical and infrared gyro-stabilised payload.”

The company said: “Trion pushes the limits on existing and competing capabilities of stabilised payloads available today. Designed for superior performance, Trion carries a unique set of advanced capabilities for object identification, real-time tracking and comprehensive data harvesting.”

In addition to this, Airobotics has signed an agreement with ADS, a leading operational equipment and logistics provider serving US Military, Federal agencies, international and coalition partners, and defence industry partners.

The Trion payload provides day-and-night observation, surveillance, and targeting capabilities at long ranges and in adverse conditions, according to Airobotics. Integrated with Airobotics data insights platform, additional features include tag and tracking of security incidents, allowing for real-time insights to fuel informed decision making. Additionally, Trion offers a high-resolution HD day camera with powerful continuous optical zoom and continuous 360° panoramic capabilities.

Airobotics said: “Designed for maximum versatility, Trion can be seamlessly integrated into Airobotics’ automated drone platform, or other UAS, vehicles, platforms and ground applications, enabling increased flexibility for data collection, detection and analysis to obtain valuable insights.”

Ryan Angold, ADS’ Vice President of Markets, said: “We believe that our partnership with Airobotics will greatly enhance the customer experience and provide a market-leading solution for critical security and inspection applications.”

Ran Krauss, CEO and Co-Founder at Airobotics, said: “We are pleased to offer Airobotics’ powerful and highly stabilised Trion payload to the broader market that will grant professionals with the ability to capture more accurate data for fast decision-making in the most demanding circumstances.”

Airobotics has achieved a number of milestones across the business, including integration of LiDAR into its Automated Drone Platform, obtaining CASA approval for Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) Drone Flights from remote operations centres in Australia and making advancements of aviation regulation with a US FAA BVLOS waiver.