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Underground Mining Drone – New release from Emesent : Hovermap Zoe

3 Mins read

This month the Hovermap underground drone has been a focus in our office as we have been writing risk assessments and procedures for our new piece of flying tech! With our new flying friend front and center of our minds it was cool to see that Emesent released a new integration for the Hovermap payload.

It is worth noting for those new to this arena that the drone (in our project’s case a DJI M300) and the payload (in this case the Hovermap scanning system) are two separate entities. So the system comprises two separate components that can integrate and work with one another to deliver amazing data capture.

Emesent announced this integration with an alternative drone offering last week with the press release below:

Emesent today announced that their Hovermap autonomy and mapping payload is now plug-and-play compatible with the Zoe aircraft from Acecore Technologies made in the Netherlands. This seamless integration brings the power of Hovermap’s proven autonomy functions to Zoe, allowing it to fly beyond line of sight and communication range — even in challenging GPS-denied environments.

“We’re excited to be expanding Hovermap’s compatibility to this new range of aircraft,” says Peter Dickinson, Head of Product Management for Emesent. 

Acecore has built a reputation for developing high-quality drone platforms which are used in some of the harshest conditions on the planet. Their Zoe model has an impressive set of specifications that are well suited for Hovermap. 

“Zoe’s ability to handle harsh environments and carry a large payload make it a great match for Hovermap. It can carry both Hovermap and a full-frame gimballed camera, making the Hovermap-Zoe combination a great solution for aerial inspection and mapping work.”, said Dickinson.

Hovermap provides omnidirectional, LiDAR-based, collision avoidance and stable GPS-denied flight, allowing users to fly safely up close to, inside or underneath assets, to map them and capture detailed images. This includes bridges, oil and gas rigs, building façades, and telecom towers. The combination of Australian and European technology makes the Hovermap-Zoe solution suitable for sensitive government or defense assets.  “

The new Emesent Hovermap Zoe drone seen flying with both the Hovermap LiDAR scanner (underneath) and a top mounted camera (above). Dual payloads should deliver richer colourised data sets. Source: Emesent

The new Zoe release is a great advance for the technology as those working above ground can now carry a dual payload of scanner and high-res camera. This will allow for richer, colourised point cloud data sets to use with complex above ground inspection tasks. However, for the underground mining market the ability to fly with a camera is nearly a none starter, as the lack of light in underground workings will make the additional data capture source defunct (it is worth noting that a GoPro can be attached to the existing DJI configuration for simple colourised data collection).

That said the ability to monitor and inspect auxiliary site structures away from the underground mining fronts could be an added function for mining projects. Take for example a telecommunications mast that may need an annual inspection, or a conveyor that is causing issues within the milling process. These can now be flown and fully mapped with high quality images, without rope access or down time. Alternatively if a project has both underground and open pit operations, then the dual payload functionality could become better utilised for high wall geotechnical inspections.

It is great to see Emesent, a business with its origins in Queensland, collaborating with more global drone producers to keep ahead of the technology. The advanced abilities of this new drone offer alternative options to those working in the field and collecting data, something that is always welcomed.


If you like my content and discussions on underground mining, please follow me on LinkedIn or Facebook. I continually strive to offer new and interesting content for those exploring new technologies and ideas for underground mining – so please send me an email if you would like to get involved.

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