Autonomous Drone Flights Operated from Half a World Away: Emesent is Making History

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Australian data analytics and drone autonomy start-up Emesent is making history with remotely operated autonomous drone flights.  The latest flight took place underground in a mine in Canada –  but was operated from Australia.  These missions “promise to drive revolutionary change in the heavy industry space,” says an Emesent press release.

This flight took place August 28, 2020, at an Ultra-Deep Canadian Hard-Rock Mine. “Emesent’s Hovermap LiDAR payload enabled an autonomous drone flight underground,” says the release.

The missions prove the capabilities of autonomy and remote operations.  The missions also make excellent business sense.  Mines are particularly appropriate for drone technology: they are the dark, dirty, and dangerous environs perfect for robotic missions.  Mines are often in remote areas.  In some cases, mines must be monitored for safety well after their production has ceased.   Due to these factors, the ability to monitor a mine from anywhere in the world is a compelling business application with tremendous value to the mining industry – and many other heavy industry sectors.

For this proof-of-concept, the drone was piloted from take-off to landing by Emesent founders Dr. Stefan Hrabar and Dr. Farid Kendoul using standard online remote collaboration tools and Emesent’s recently launched Autonomy Level 2 (AL2) feature,” the release explains.  “Local support was provided by Unmanned Aerial Services Inc., Emesent’s partner in the region. This collaboration resulted in the world’s first remotely-operated autonomous drone flight in an underground mine.”

In early August, Emesent conducted a remote demonstration for a South African company.  In that application, operators in South Africa operated “a Hovermap-enabled drone down a tunnel in Queensland, some 11,000 kilometres away,” said the release.

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