Au­tonomous drone startup raises $3.5m


DRONE tech­nol­ogy de­vel­oped by CSIRO Data61 spinoff Eme­sent has re­ceived a $3.5 mil­lion boost to bring its au­tonomous pro­to­type, Hovermap, into the main­stream mar­ket.

The tech­nol­ogy, which draws on 10 years of re­search by CSIRO’s Robotics and Au­tonomous Sys­tems group, was de­signed to au­to­mate the col­lec­tion of data in un­der­ground ar­eas that were too dan­ger­ous or dif­fi­cult for peo­ple to sur­vey or nav­i­gate, in­clud­ing stopes or ore passes.

Emersent’s Hovermap can be in­te­grated with drones to en­able them to be de­ployed in GPS-de­nied en­vi­ron­ments with­out a hu­man con­troller to cre­ate 3D maps, im­ages, videos or record gas read­ings.

“Hovermap en­ables the min­ing in­dus­try to safely in­spect in­ac­ces­si­ble ar­eas of un­der­ground mines, while im­prov­ing the type and qual­ity of data col­lected to un­lock new in­sights,” Eme­sent co-founder and chief ex­ec­u­tive Dr Ste­fan Hrabar said.

“This in­cludes com­par­ing the stope de­sign to the ac­tual post-blast shape to de­tect over-break and un­der-break, iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of geotech­ni­cal struc­tures and ac­cu­rate post-blast vol­ume rec­on­cil­i­a­tions.

“The data we gather im­proves a mine’s pro­duc­tiv­ity and pro­vides a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of con­di­tions un­der­ground, all with­out send­ing sur­vey­ors and min­ers into po­ten­tially haz­ardous ar­eas.”

Hovermap com­pleted the world’s first au­tonomous be­yond line-of-sight drone flight at an un­der­ground mine in WA in 2017.

The tech­nol­ogy was al­ready be­ing used com­mer­cially by some early adopters in Aus­tralia, the US, Ja­pan, China and Canada.

Dr Hrabar said the rais­ing would en­able him to grow the team from seven to 25, and com­mer­i­calise the prod­uct.

CSIRO chief ex­ec­u­tive Larry Mar­shall said Eme­sent was an ex­am­ple of a com­pany that had “hit the in­no­va­tion sweet spot” com­bin­ing deep do­main ex­pe­ri­ence in min­ing with dig­i­tal ex­per­tise.

“This has been har­nessed by the en­vi­ron­ment we have cre­ated at CSIRO where deep sci­ence com­bines with in­no­va­tive ideas and ag­ile minds to cre­ate game-chang­ing tech­nolo­gies,” Dr Mar­shall said.


The Eme­sent team.

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