A Sudbury-based mining-technology company has entered a partnership with a U.S.-based aerial drone company to create an advanced gas-monitoring system for underground mining safety.
Maestro Digital Mine, which operates from the Magill Street industrial park in Lively, is working with Exyn Technologies, which has created pioneering autonomous aerial robot systems for operating in complex, GPS-denied environments, such as mines.
Exyn recently tested some of its technology at the K+S Werra mine site in Germany where the ExynAero™ and ExynPak™ drones were equipped with gas monitoring devices created by Maestro.
Company CEO and co-founder Michael Gribbons of Sudbury said the Maestro devices combined with Exyn drone platforms were regarded as the quickest and safest gas monitoring devices anywhere.
Underground mining can produce a long list of hazardous gasses such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulphide, sulphur dioxide, methane and oxides of nitrogen.
Routine rock blasting is also a source of hazardous gas and there are times when mining companies incur significant time and expense to ensure that the gasses are cleared out before sending miners back into underground spaces.
Automated drones with gas testing devices can speed up the gas check procedure significantly.
In a recent posting on Twitter, Gribbons remarked that his company was pleased with the partnership which will help to offset the danger of detecting hazardous gasses underground.
He said drone technology will need to become a regular part of everyday mining operations going forward.
"If the mining sector is to move to fully autonomous operations across the board, drones —whether that be of the aerial or ground-based variety — will be a necessary part of everyday life," Gribbons posted.
"A fully autonomous drone outfitted with Maestro Digital Mine's environmental sensors provided real time information in dangerous areas of the mine not suitable to be reached without using heavy and cumbersome airpacks. Miners' safety is critical to sustainable mining," Gribbons wrote.