Autonomous Drone Flights Operated from Half a World Away: Emesent is Making History

Australian knowledge analytics and drone autonomy start-up Emesent is making historical past with remotely operated autonomous drone flights.  The newest flight happened underground in a mine in Canada –  however was operated from Australia.  These missions “promise to drive revolutionary change in the heavy industry space,” says an Emesent press launch.

This flight happened August 28, 2020, at an Ultra-Deep Canadian Hard-Rock Mine. “Emesent’s Hovermap LiDAR payload enabled an autonomous drone flight underground,” says the discharge.

The missions show the capabilities of autonomy and distant operations.  The missions additionally make wonderful enterprise sense.  Mines are notably applicable for drone expertise: they’re the darkish, soiled and harmful environs good for robotic missions.  Mines are sometimes in distant areas.  In some circumstances, mines have to be monitored for security nicely after their manufacturing has ceased.   Due to those elements, the power to watch a mine from anyplace on the planet is a compelling enterprise software with large worth to the mining business – and plenty of different heavy business sectors.

autonomous drone flightsFor this proof-of-concept, the drone was piloted from take-off to landing by Emesent founders Dr. Stefan Hrabar and Dr. Farid Kendoul using standard online remote collaboration tools and Emesent’s recently launched Autonomy Level 2 (AL2) feature,” the discharge explains.  “Local support was provided by Unmanned Aerial Services Inc., Emesent’s partner in the region. This collaboration resulted in the world’s first remotely-operated autonomous drone flight in an underground mine.”

In early August, Emesent carried out a distant demonstration for a South African firm.  In that software, operators in South Africa operated “a Hovermap-enabled drone down a tunnel in Queensland, some 11,000 kilometres away,” stated the discharge.

Here’s the way it works:

Designed to gather vital knowledge in difficult areas, Hovermap makes use of LiDAR knowledge and superior algorithms to supply autonomous navigation even the place GPS just isn’t obtainable. Hovermap’s Autonomy Level 2 permits the system to be operated by inserting sensible waypoints in a 3D map which is streamed reside from the unit. Once a waypoint is about, Hovermap self-navigates to the waypoint, exploring and avoiding collisions alongside the best way. This excessive degree of autonomy permits the system to be operated remotely regardless of connectivity delays or variable web speeds.

“Technologies like Hovermap could enable many more activities to be conducted remotely, in industries like mining, energy and construction,” Dr Hrabar stated.

“We pride ourselves on the adoption of new technology such as Hovermap. We’re already using the system to map our stopes and were excited to be part of this remote operation trial. We’ve already invested in establishing a high-speed network underground to future-proof the mine and allow applications like this,” stated the Mine Technical Services Manager on the Canadian mine.

“It was incredible to see a drone being flown in our underground mine all the way from Australia. This shows that remote operation is possible, and in future we’ll be able to operate the drone underground from anywhere we work – whether it be a distant location underground, from the engineering office on surface, or remote offices offsite. Many of us assumed this would still be science fiction for a while, but we’ve been proven wrong by Emesent.”

Dr Kendoul stated Emesent’s devoted technical staff would proceed to push the bounds of autonomous flight.  “Our focus has always been on creating intelligent technology which delivers tangible benefits to the mining, construction and emergency response sectors and we don’t intend to rest on our laurels,” he stated.




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