Underground Mining Applications

There are many areas of underground mines that are too dangerous to send people into but these areas still need to be inspected or mapped. Our autonomous beyond line-of-sight flight and LiDAR mapping capability allow these areas to be inspected and mapped in a safe, efficient manner. The dense point clouds that are collected provide valuable insights to mining engineers, surveyors and geotechnical engineers. 


Stopes are cavities which form after a volume of rock has been fractured through blasting and then excavated. The stope needs to be scanned in 3D and compared to the design for reconciliation purposes and to better plan for future blasting of adjacent stopes. 

Traditional Method - CMS

Scans are traditionally done using a Cavity Measurement System or CMS. This is essentially a LiDAR scanner mounted to a long boom which is interred into the stope. Operating a CMS requires the surveyors to work near the stope entrance, a hazardous place to be. The CMS has limited line-of-sight capability into the stope so many area are left unmapped (shadowing).  The resulting scans also have limited point density and the density degrades further away from the scanner because of limited angular resolution. This can make it challenging to accurately estimate the stope volume and shape. 


Hovermap equipped drone flying autonomously inside a stope


our method - autonomous mapping drone

When our Hovermap LiDAR mapping and autonomy payload is attached to a drone it allows the drone to fly autonomous beyond line-of-sight in GPS-denied environments. This allows a drone to fly into a stope and map it autonomously. The key benefits are:

  1. Safety - surveyors no longer need to work close to the stope entrance
  2. Efficiency - a typical stope can be mapped in a single 10 min flight
  3. Data coverage - since the drone flies inside the stope and views it from many viewpoints it achieves full coverage with no missing data
  4. Data density - the system produces hundreds to thousands of points per square meter, making it possible not only to take accurate volume calculations but also to geotechnical structures such as faults and fracture planes. This valuable information can provide a better understanding of the mine geology. 

Comparison of scans obtained of a stope from a CMS and Hovermap