Hovermap system allows drones to go deep underground where GPS can not go
Summary: LOCAL researchers are developing drone technology that will allow units to fly remotely without the need for GPS tracking.....
The technology, known as Hovermap, means the drones can fly in places GPS cannot work – such as deep underground in mining sites.
Principal research scientist at CSIRO’s Data 61 and Hovermap project leader Dr Stefan Hrabar said the revolutionary drone payload dramatically improved the value of drone-based inspections and mapping.
“We build a laser scanner and we mount that to the drone computer, which then uses information from the laser which helps it to detect and avoid obstacles,” he said.
“We already have four participants in the early adopter program – Insitu Pacific, Smart Survey, NQ UAV and The Little Ripper Group.
“It can sense if something is too close, it basically builds a virtual bubble or shield, and it behaves as if does have GPS capabilities. The real objective is full autonomy.”
In September the Hovermap technology enabled the world’s first autonomous drone flight beyond line-of-sight, 600 metres underground.
Dr Hrabar said one of the most beneficial aspects was that it provided mapping in places which had the potential to be hazardous for humans, increasing safety and reducing time.
“Someone who is not an expert operator, like a surveyor, can operate it,” he said.
“The case is very strong for something like this to be used regularly in underground operations.”
Insitu Pacific managing director Andrew Duggan said the company was excited to be working with Data 61 as an early adopter of Hovermap.
“As we continue to expand the scope of our commercial data services operations in Australia leveraging unmanned systems, cutting edge sensor and autonomy packages like Hovermap open up a range of new opportunities across the oil and gas and mining industry space,” he said.