Robot planes may map and monitor mines

Drone aircraft, similar to those used in Afghanistan, could be used in Gladstone and Mackay to map and monitor mines in Queensland.

UAV Australia managing director Aonghus Stevens said his company will be bringing in two of the unmanned aerial vehicles into the country over this year, adding that UAVs have already been used by miners in QLD and WA, the Daily Mercury reported.

UAVs have previously been used in Western Australia to survey stockpiles.

UAVs with digital SLR cameras attached were programmed via GPS to fly autonomously on a set path over mining stockpiles.

These UAVs, which are typi­cally helicopters, can cover an area of 25 hectares within half an hour, providing a ground pixel size of less than 4cm as well as a height accu­racy of under 4cm.

Stevens added that these drones could also be used to deliver critical spare parts.

"You could use a (drone) to carry something up to 30kg to have a critical spare part delivered to an LNG rig or a mine," he said.

"It reduces cost and has a quicker turnaround (than a helicopter courier)."

Currently most UAVs are operated by a line of sight controller beneath 125 metres.

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