Hovermap drones dive underground to autonomously map mines and tunnels
The imaging and mapping potential of drones flying through the sky is well documented, but they also hold great potential for environments deep beneath the Earth's surface. Australian-based startup Emesant is taking an underground approach to drone technology, developing specialized software for the autonomous mapping of mines and tunnels.
Emesant is a startup company founded by former researchers at Australian federal government research agency the CSIRO, where they worked in the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group. There began the development of the Hovermap technology, which uses a mix of LiDAR, collision avoidance sensors and GPS to map underground environments.
This comes in the form of a payload that can be mounted to compatible drones, which can then be deployed beneath the ground in dangerous environments, saving humans from putting themselves at risk. Emesant put its technology to the test last year 600 m (2,000 ft) beneath the surface of Western Australia, where it carried out the world's first fully autonomous beyond-the-line-of-sight drone flight in an underground mine.
The Hovermap system gathers data as it flies through these mines and tunnels, which can then be processed on a laptop afterwards to generate 3D maps of the environment.
The company's commercialization efforts have also just received a nice shot in the arm, attracting a handy AU$3.5 million (US$2.5 million) in venture capital. Early adopters are apparently already experimenting with the Hovermap technology, and the company hopes to make it available before the year is out.
You can check out the video below to learn more about the Hovermap technology.