Periodic Reporting for period 3 - UNEXMIN (Autonomous Underwater Explorer for Flooded Mines)
Reporting period: 2018-10-01 to 2019-10-31
The production of the first robot prototype was done at the Spring of 2018. The first pool tests happened in April 2018 in Porto. The first real environmental tests were performed in June 2018 at Kaatiala, Finland. This was an ideal possibility to test the robot in flooded open pit and in flooded underground tunnels also. The first true underground mine trial happened in September 2018 in the mercury mine of Idrija, Slovenia. At Idrija the UX-1a was capable to cover and map the available flooded parts in a very challenging environment, where the first full autonomous dives were also performed with success.
Then in March 2019 the second UX-1 robot was assembled and both robots were used in Urgeiriça mine, Portugal. Used alternately, the robots managed to navigate the main open galleries and tunnels of the flooded mine while registering information on the state of the workings and on general geological features down to 106m.
The UNEXMIN team went to the UK where it tested the technology at Ecton mine in May 2019. Here the robots mapped the three access points, two main shafts and a pipe of the mine, that nobody has seen for more than 160 years. The deepest point to where a robot navigated was around 125 m.
The last field test happened in June – July 2019 in Budapest, Hungary, in the Molnár János cave. This thermal cave was a new environment to further prove the operability of the robot. Automation functions and motion control of the robot were especially tested here.
The results of the trials were disseminated and communicated in different European conferences, on the project’s website, social media channels and during the UNEXMIN Final Conference held in Brussels on September 2019. Furthermore, at this event the UX-1 robot was also shown to the public with great impact.
Finally, and as envisaged in the GA a joint company was created at the end of the project. This company, UNEXMIN GeoRobotics Ltd will continue the development and exploitation of the technology to the market and guarantee the exploitation of UNEXMIN’s results.
The UNEXMIN technology will help minerals prospecting and equipment providers, and tools and robotic solutions development SMEs to expand in their lines of work. It will also help to develop ICT/robotic industries pushing them to the forefront of science and technology. The activities deriving from UNEXMIN’s technology can result in a more secure supply of minerals and create new technologies and business lines. The mining sector will be the most positively impacted with UNEXMIN’s innovative technology. The project high-tech direction can have a transformational effect on the industry attracting new ideas and making minerals research more attractive to young scientists. Other social benefits of this technology are the possibility to survey flooded mine workings which are potentially hazardous, especially those near-surface which can be the cause of sink-hole development and assessment of risks of water contamination from flooded mines, as well as the ability to use this technology in other underwater environments where exists a high risk for humans.