Hovermap - Removing feet from underground


Evan Jones, Emesent; Jeremey Sofonia, Emesent; Stefan Hrabar, Emesent; Farid Kendoul, Emesent

Underground mining is an incredibly hazardous workplace, one of the most difficult operational workplaces that people are sent on a regular basis. There has been an industry push to “remove feet from underground”, following the hierarchy of hazard controls of elimination and substitution. Elimination and substitution through automation is fundamentally far more difficult underground given the GPS-denied environment than surface operations. Hovermap is a drone payload enabling autonomous flight through the use of LiDAR and cutting-edge algorithms. This new method for accessing inaccessible areas removes feet from underground whilst collecting the necessary information for surveyors, engineers and geologists to make the decisions they needed to whilst accessing hazardous environments. Hovermap has been successful deployed in a range of stoping and caving operations in Australia, Canada and the United States proving to be an invaluable resource.   This paper provides an insight into the hardware and the methods enabling drones to fly autonomously into inaccessible areas. Examples of the 3-dimensional results showcase the detail and resolution of the data benefiting sites that have adopted Hovermap. Hovermap's future applications and capabilities provides a glimpse of the endless potential to improve safety, efficiency and productivity in underground mining operations.
Keywords: Drone, Automation, Hovermap, LiDAR