Gerard Peter finds out more from Dr. Stefan Hrabar, CEO and co-founder of Emesent, about mine safety during lockdown.
From an article in Mining Review Africa by Gerard Peter.
Founded in 2018 and represented by Dwyka Mining Services in South Africa, Emesent has built a reputation for delivering high-quality autonomous data capture solutions, particularly in underground mining operations.
Prior to forming the company, Hrabar and co-founder Farid Kendoul, along with other team members worked for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia’s equivalent of South Africa’s CSIR.
Hrabar and Kendoul have PhDs in robotics, specialising in drone autonomy. They had been with the CSIRO for 13 years during which time they developed a solution using LIDAR in real-time on a drone to do navigation and mapping and realised its commercial potential.
After embarking on a fundraising initiative, they co-founded Emesent at the end of 2018.
Simply put, LiDAR sends out a pulse in the form of a laser light. That pulse bounces off whatever it hits and returns to the receiver and the time it takes to complete the return trip is calculated. Based on the speed of light, one is able to calculate how far an object is.
“Traditionally, the LiDAR device was used on a tripod,” states Hrabar. “But obviously, that had its limitations as you have to keep moving this tripod around. As such, it’s very hard to cover the entire area without having any kind of blind spots or shadows.”
Now, explains Hrabar, LiDAR devices can be used handheld or put on a moving object such as a drone that covers the entire area.
Emesent’s flagship product, Hovermap, is a versatile LiDAR scanning unit which can be handheld or mounted to a drone. Using Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping (SLAM) technology it enables autonomous mapping even when GPS is unavailable, which makes it well suited for underground mining operations and improving mine safety.
“We have adapted the technology to be used on a drone and the device is firing out 300 000 pulses per second in all directions. We then use the information to create a 360° field of view of the environment around the drone,” explains Hrabar.
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