Game of Drones: Industrial drones can now fly in enclosed spaces without a pilot or GPS
In the confines
of a mine or an oil pipeline, without GPS and with little or no light,
industrial drones can now count on the development of an Australian startup
called Emesent whose artificial intelligence software allows them to navigate
and map these spaces autonomously. The mining industry is undoubtedly one of
the most interested in this type of thing; Mining is necessarily a very
systematic process that involves repeated measurements of areas and often these
measurements must be made manually and accurately in dangerous circumstances.
A control technique in mines is called "stops" and should be
inspected regularly to verify and detect potential problems. "The way in
which these stops are controlled is quite archaic," they said in Emesent.
"These holes can be huge, like 40 to
the people in charge of the measurements have to go to the edge of these
dangerous underground cliffs in addition to getting very little information so
there is a lot of missing data." The solution of Emesent, called Hovermap,
consists in equipping a standard industrial drone with a lidar sensor and
on-board processing facility that simultaneously performs the position and fast
mapping (SLAM) within the gap. In addition, the drone flies autonomously
through horizontal tunnels or vertical tunnels advancing slowly and returning
minutes later with the necessary data to build a very detailed map.
The concept of the company is to sell the complete kit to the mining companies as a plug-and-play solution, but also work on the marketing of the SLAM software separately for those who want to obtain a license and customize it. "At the end of the day, mining companies do not want a point cloud, they want a report, so it's not just a data collection, but an analysis," they said in the company. Emesent emerged from Data61, the technology arm of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization or CSIRO administered by Main Sequence Ventures. The development of this Australian company is undoubtedly a great contribution to industrial drones which will be able to expand their services to new productive sectors.