The UNEXMIN project is developing a novel robotic system formed by three individual robots for the autonomous exploration and mapping of Europe’s flooded underground mines.
The Robotic Explorer (UX-1) uses non-invasive methods for autonomous 3D mine-mapping to gather valuable geological, mineralogical and spatial information from flooded underground mines. These data can open new exploration scenarios so that strategic decisions on the re-opening of Europe’s abandoned mines can be supported with actualised data that cannot be obtained in any other way, without major costs or associated risks. The multi-robot platform represents a new technology line only made possible by recent developments in autonomy research, which have enabled the development of a completely new class of mine-explorer robots capable of operating without remote control. UX-1 is the first of its kind!
The first prototype is ready since May 2018. It was already used to explore and map three sites in Europe: the Kaatiala mine (Finland), the Idrija mine (Slovenia) and the Urgeiriça mine (Portugal). The final field trial at the Ecton mine, UK, in May 2019, will prove the operability of the system in a set of very challenging conditions.
Our role in the project
La Palma Research Centre is actively coordinating Work Package 8 – Dissemination, technology transfer and exploitation; WP8 is facilitating the dissemination of results, awareness raising to the relevant stakeholders, and the transfer of technologies between the robotics, technology developers and raw materials communities. Our main goal is to ensure the diffusion of information regarding the interim and final results, as well as to make sure that the most recent scientific and technological developments in autonomy and robotics research are accessible to a wide range of new users from the minerals community, who can then exploit the technology into new products, applications, and services. An equally important goal is to promote the further development of the proposed new technology line, so that new technologies and services that can emerge beyond the immediate focus of the project.
LPRC is also the responsible partner to develop a research roadmap in order to further step-up the technologies being used in the UX-1 robot, after the project lifetime. This task started in January 2018 and will continue until the end of the project.