Autonomous aerial drones were used successfully to explore a historic gold mine in the Central Lapland area of Northern Finland, the companies involved with the exploration said today. Canadian-based Rupert Resources and Exyn Technologies, which develops autonomous aerial robot systems for GPS-denied industrial environments, said the partnership was able to produce highly detailed 3D models of the Finnish gold mine.
Rupert Resources said it needed to plan for a potential restart of operations by estimating tonnage previously removed from the mine, as well as calculating the remaining ore in heavily restricted areas. With assistance from Exyn Technologies, the company’s aerial robots were able to map 30 stopes in three days with a single drone. In addition, Exyn said it mounted a version of its robot to a car to scan all access drifts. Together with the stop maps, the data provided a complete mine map in under four days.
“Rupert is actively seeking new technologies where we can think big gains can be made in terms of safety, productivity, and accuracy,” said Jukka Nieminen, managing director of Rupert Finland. “Exyn achieved accurate assessment of the volume of remaining stopes at Pahtavaara with an unprecedented level of detail, and obviously the use of remote technologies means that this was achieved with a greatly reduced degree of risk. We have no hesitation in recommending this technology.”
Exyn’s autonomous drones are built on the company’s exynAI platform, which allows the drones to fly intelligently without a human pilot through a series of sensors and AI-based software. In addition, the system operates without the need for GPS or external communications, and is deployed as an all-in-one software and hardware package. In November 2019, the company reported a successful mission of mapping a historic gold mine in British Columbia with another company, Ascot Resources.
“Our mission with Rupert presented some of the most difficult and seemingly impossible challenges to navigating, analyzing, and assessing a mine – which therefore makes it exemplary in demonstrating the heights of Exyn’s capabilities,” said Raffi Jabrayan, director of markets & industries at Exyn Technologies. “Our AI-based software and state-of-the-art sensors were able to get the job done quickly and safely, proving once again that no exploration task is impossible for Exyn drones.”
Exyn Technologies, which began as a spinout from the University of Pennsylvania’s GRASP Laboratory, raised $16 million in Series A funding in July 2019. The company was named one of the “companies we’re watching” in the RBR50 2019 report, and it recently participated in the DARPA Subterranean Challenge, which is exploring the use of robotics and autonomous systems in underground environments, including human-made tunnel systems, urban underground, and natural cave networks.