Autonomous drones are changing the mine mapping game
For Exyn Tech, the number one thing in drone design is safety. The ExynAero EA6 is a fully autonomous drone, able to map existing stops and/or drifts. It does not require any sort of previous infrastructure, GPS, tethers, Wi-Fi, or even a pilot.
“We no longer need to send miners to the face,” said Raffi Jabrayan, VP business development and commercial sales. “With our machines, you could stand 30, 40, or 50 metres away from an open stope, under a fully supported area, give it its mission and it is able to go and get the mission done.”
Jabrayan said that among its other attributes, efficiency was key, claiming that the drone can complete research within a mine that would normally take hours, within a matter of minutes.
On top of that, the EA6 is changing the game in terms of map accuracy.
“Your traditional measuring tools used to give you 30,000 to 40,000 points. (EA6) gives you 50 million to 60 million points. In layman’s terms; it is giving you a
better-quality map, which is giving you more accurate volumetric calculations, which then allows you to obviously plan better,” he said.
The EA6 is the third generation of autonomous drones from Exyn. The company was founded in 2014 by Nader Elm and Vijay Kumar as a spin off, out of the University of Pennsylvania’s General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) lab.
Jabrayan said that bringing major mining corporations into the development process was vital for the development of the EA6, as it was for previous models. Products are also rigorously tested in controlled environments before they hit the market.
According to Jabrayan, reviews for the item have been largely positive and over 150 units are out in the marketplace right now.
“It is very difficult for me to say, no, we do not want something that’s going to make us more efficient, or we do not want to be safer, or we don’t want more accuracy. So, the product usually sells itself,” he added.
Jabrayan said the next step in the drone’s evolution is to optimize functionality. Be that longer battery life, more sensors, an increased ability to detect gases and eventually making the drone suitable for indoor and outdoor flight, as opposed to its current setting which is exclusively for underground.
“Before the end of the year, this unit will be able to fly indoor and outdoor at the same time. It can start indoors and finish outdoors or vice versa, which opens a whole bunch of new use cases,” Jabrayan said.