Australian start-up develops drones that fly underground

Australian company Emesent has developed software that allows autonomous drones to create mapping of underground spaces such as mines and tunnels.

The company was founded by researchers at the robotics department of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, an Australian federal research agency. While there, they began created "Hovermap", a technology that allows drones to explore confined spaces such as mines, transport and utility tunnels.

The drones, which do not require a human controller, rely on the LiDAR laser systems used by self-driving vehicles, as well as collision-avoidance sensors and GPS chips. They can also perform other tasks, such as taking gas readings

A video of the system in action can be seen here.

Emesent has launched Hovermap with early adopters, and plans to make it generally available in December. Its plans have been helped by an injection of US$2.5m from Main Sequence Ventures, a venture capitalist that specialises in technology investment.

Stefan Hrabar, the chief executive of Emesent, told the Australian Financial Review: "GPS relies on visibility to the open sky, which restricts drones to be used in those areas. But there are many applications where you’d like to be able to go and do an inspection where there is no GPS, for example in underground mining."

Image: The Hovermapper in action (Emesent)

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  1. This is a great way to utilise the benefit of drone technology, working in places where humans safely go

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