Technology

Emesent: How autonomous robots are increasing safety and productivity by revolutionising post-blast mine re-entry

Emesent believes autonomous robots are more than just impressive tech – they hold the key to transforming safety and efficiency in underground mining, especially in the post-blast phase.

That is why the company recently held a webinar costed by its co-founder and chief technology officer Farid Kendoul, where he discussed the game-changing role of autonomous robots in post-blast mining, paving the way for a new era of operations.

Below are some highlights from the webinar.

The current mining scene

Before delving into the capabilities of autonomous robots, let’s consider the current state of traditional mining operations and why they’re ripe for a technological overhaul.

Entrenched practices and disjointed legacy systems can lead to a hazardous environment with significant safety risks.

These challenges result in operational inefficiencies, resource wastage, and diminishing profits. This setup not only jeopardises worker safety but also impedes progress at mining sites, as accidents can lead to extended periods of downtime, compounding the industry’s challenges.

Embracing automation offers a path to improvement through incremental changes that can yield substantial benefits in terms of safety and productivity, especially in the short term.

Automation provides a practical solution that, over time, may lead to more significant transformations in the industry. Powered by advanced sense-plan-act capabilities, this approach promises enhanced efficiency, productivity, and safety, contributing to overall site improvement.

Elevating post-blast workflows with autonomy

Post-blast inspections prior to re-entry mark a pivotal stage in mining. Yet, existing post-blast monitoring and inspections lead to downtime, revenue loss, and safety concerns.

Emesent’s end-to-end solution redefines post-blast monitoring using three essential components:

  • underground robots: equipped with advanced sensors and autonomy, these robots are the heart of the operation
  • remote robotic operations: operating underground robots remotely while processing and deriving insights from their data.
  • data platform: an all-in-one platform for data management and sharing.

Bringing together these components allows automation of key parts of the workflow, making it seamless and user friendly. Mission planning, execution, data capture, analysis, and reporting all come together, transforming post-blast re-entry:

  • deduced downtime: boosts mine productivity by minimizing post-blast downtime
  • enhanced safety: keeps personnel out of harm’s way, creating a safer work environment
  • optimised operations: utilises data to refine subsequent operations, ramping up productivity
  • flexibility and alignment: adapts to mine workflows and autonomy levels, ensuring a perfect fit
  • regulatory compliance: generates records to support regulatory adherence.

Emesent’s leading post-blast innovation

Emesent is automating analysis of the post-blasting process. Its pioneering prototype pairs the Hovermap, renowned for its autonomy and 3D light detection and ranging (LiDAR) surveying, with the Boston Dynamics Spot robot.

This dynamic duo has been trialled in active underground mines across Australia, South Africa, and America, yielding remarkable results.

This collaboration provides an unmatched autonomous robotic system with many benefits:

  • navigate diverse terrains: traverse challenging underground landscapes effortlessly
  • reliably localise: pinpoint location in complex underground environments
  • 3D perception: visualise surroundings in 3D, avoiding obstacles with precision
  • flexible autonomy: execute missions with varying autonomy levels
  • remote operation: operate beyond communication range, enhancing remote capability
  • seamless integration: easily integrate into existing infrastructure and workflows.

Beyond post-blast re-entry, the Hovermap and Boston Dynamics Spot pairing proves versatile. It excels in real-time underground navigation, avoidance, mapping hazardous areas, surface inspections, and even post-earthquake assessments.

Shaping the future

Emesent’s Hovermap and Boston Dynamics Spot agile robot, powered by autonomous 3D LiDAR mapping, promises to augment daily mining operations.

The industry’s future looks promising, driven by critical factors demanding change. There’s a pressing need for environmental, social and governance (ESG) compliance, a concerted effort towards achieving net-zero targets to align with national and global greenhouse goals, and a surge in demand for vital minerals powering renewable energy systems.

Additionally, the evolving technical skill set of industry workers, leveraging digital tools to enhance safety and efficiency through data-driven insights, is a significant driver of change.

Navigating this transformative landscape requires a multidisciplinary approach, involving continuous research, development, and collaborative efforts with industry stakeholders.

For more information, visit the Emesent website.

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