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Exyn Technologies

Autonomous Flight Advances Mine Safety and Operations

Company Overview

Exyn Technologies is pioneering autonomous aerial robot systems for complex, GPS-denied environments. The company’s full-stack solution enables flexible deployment of single or multi-robots that can intelligently navigate and dynamically adapt to complex environments in real-time. For the first time, industries like mining, logistics, and construction can benefit from a single, integrated solution to capture critical and time-sensitive data in a safer, more affordable, and more efficient way. Exyn is powered by a team of experts in autonomous systems, robotics, and industrial engineering, and is a spin-off of Penn’s world-renowned GRASP Laboratory. The company is VC-backed and privately held, with headquarters in Philadelphia. For more information, please visit www.exyn.com.

Challenges

Dundee Precious Metals Inc. (DPM) is a Canadian-based, international gold mining company engaged in the acquisition, exploration, development, mining, and processing of precious metals.

In 2003, after extensive due diligence, DPM acquired two gold mines in Bulgaria. To survey the multitude of mine stopes — which are open spaces, or cavities, in an underground mine — surveyors used a static cavity monitoring system (CMS), which is essentially a lidar scanner at the end of a very long pole. Surveyors would take the CMS very close to the edge of the brow, which is the lip next to the opening of a stope. Brows can be potentially unstable and unsafe for surveyors in close proximity.

The main limitations of CMS technology are that the scan is made from a single, static point and that it takes so long for surveyors to set up and tear down. The scan data can have hidden areas, called shadows in the industry. This missing data makes the models that are built from the data incomplete. These inaccuracies can accrue to make further calculations incorrect.

DPM is always looking to be innovators in the mining industry, both in safety – keeping surveyors away from the brow and other dangerous areas – and in efficiency – capturing a more complete picture of their cavity monitoring. DPM approached Exyn as a potential solution to both of these problems.

Solution

To help Dundee Precious Metals (DPM) address the challenges of safety and efficiency, Exyn flew a team to Bulgaria equipped with three Exyn A3R™ aerial robots. The A3R is Exyn’s advanced autonomous aerial robot equipped with Velodyne Puck LITE lidar sensors. Exyn A3Rs are powered by exynAI™, a proprietary autonomy software stack, and can be deployed anywhere within a mine without the need for a pilot or prior map.

The Exyn robot can be unpacked, deployed, packed up again and data downloaded in 15-20 minutes, compared to the 60+ minutes it would take with traditional CMS. And due to the robot’s infrastructure-free design, surveyors can stand far away from open brows and deploy robots to fly beyond line-of-sight.

Surveyors can launch the robot with an easy-to-use, ruggedized tablet planning a mission in real-time. Once they launch the mission, the robot takes over and completes all computation onboard. The Exyn engineering team trained DPM surveyors over the course of a week so DPM could use the robots on their own in ongoing mining operations.

Results

In total, Exyn performed 123 flights, scanning six stopes. Surveyors were able to scan stopes in two-to-three minutes and collect more than 20 million points of data in real-time, capturing a highly accurate view of the entire stope.

Exyn’s autonomy enabled the robot to fly throughout the stope eliminating any hidden points or shadows. Comparing to the old technology used before on-site, the scan time was about three times less and the amount of data was millions of times more. The new stope scanning method also allowed surveyors to spend less time underground and farther away from dangerous brows.

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