UNEXMIN: An autonomous underwater explorer for flooded mines

https://www.unexmin.eu

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Closing of the UNEXMIN Project

The UNEXMIN project, where LPRC leaded tasks on Dissemination, Technology transfer and Exploitation, has now ended, after a period of 45 months, where a multidisciplinary team from 7 European countries contributed to the development of a multi-robotic platform to map and explore flooded mines.

UNEXMIN brought together geoscientists, robotics engineers, policy makers and others from the fields of robotics and geology, to deliver an innovative technology capable of exploring flooded mines, caves and other environments and collecting valuable geological and visual information. Besides this main output, UNEXMIN also delivered, among others, an Inventory of Flooded Mines in Europe, various unique data from the test sites and a joint company that will keep exploitation of the technology going forward.

Within UNEXMIN, LPRC was responsible for:

  • Developing and maintaining the project website and social media channels
  • Create dissemination material such as brochures, posters and press releases
  • Develop a research roadmap for the future of the technology
  • Initiate and bring forward the establishment of the joint company UNEXMIN GeoRobotics
  • Other tasks contributing to dissemination of the project such as presentations in conferences and workshops around Europe

LPRC is proud to have contributed to the development of the project and will continue to help in the exploitation of the technology to several target markets: flooded mines, caves, fishing ponds, water pipes and much more. Will the future be bright for the UX-1 robots and the technology?

ROBOMINERS/UNEXMIN Joint Workshop, Amsterdam

Luís Lopes, responsible for Communication and dissemination in UNEXMIN and for Roadmapping in ROBOMINERS, went from the LPRC side to a joint workshop that brough together three projects to discuss and share ideas on development. PIPEBOTS joined the two above mentioned projects.

Talks and discussions on robotics-related topics made the core of the debate. The specific areas of discussion worked around: 1) Robotics, 2) Sensing, 3) SLAM/Navigation and 4) Communications.

LPRC took this opportunity to give a first step in the ROBOMINERS roadmapping process. One of the main tasks of roadmapping is to create clusters with other ongoing projects. This was achieved by sharing information on ROBOMINERS and collecting information on the other two projects. A follow-up will be next step and the aim is to share information on common challenges and possible approaches.

UNEXMIN Final Project Meeting, Brussels

LPRC participated at the final UNEXMIN Project Meeting, held in Brussels, on the 25th of September. This meeting was scheduled one month before the end of the project, so the team has the time to finalise details and wrap-up results and outcomes of this success story, which LPRC helped to build.

To the one-day final project meeting call the consortium answered with a total of 40 participants from all the 12 partner representatives. The morning sessions were dedicated to present the current state of the project as well as to what the future holds for UNEXMIN, but most importantly for the UX-1 unique technology. For the latter, there are already good news: a joint company was created to exploit the project’s technology – meet UNEXMIN GeoRobotics!

During the afternoon two different meetings were held: one Advisory Board meeting and a Steering Committee meeting. In both councils the discussions worked mostly around the future exploitation possibilities for the UNEXMIN technology and how the project itself is seen as a success story in the raw materials and robotics panorama.

The UNEXMIN project officially ends on the 31st of October, but there is still a lot to do. Wrapping-up results, finalising reports and documents and prepare the future are just some of the tasks ahead for this month.

LPRC is very happy and grateful to be part of such an interesting project and consortium, having contributed to different relevant aspects such as communication & dissemination, technology roadmapping and future exploitation.

 

UNEXMIN Final Conference, Brussels

It was on the 26th of September 2019 that the UNEXMIN project organised its Final Conference to showcase its results and outputs to a group stakeholders ranging from the raw materials community to robotics, not forgetting the policy makers that connect these areas. LPRC took part in the organisation of the event, where among talks and presentations on UNEXMIN and related topics, the UX-1 robot could be saw in action.

This event was a great way to disseminate and communicate the UNEXMIN’s project final results and outcomes, part of the work that were leaded by LPRC since the beginning of the project, as per WP 8 – Dissemination, Technology Transfer and Exploitation. An extensive promotion campaign formulated by our team made  the presence of around 70 people and one robot – UNEXMIN’s own UX-1 robot – at the venue (Nemo 33, Brussels) a reality.

The agenda, prepared to deliver important content to the UNEXMIN’s stakeholders and to make the bridge between them and European policies, counted with talks and presentations on diverse topics, a rooundtable discussion on the future of raw materials and robotics, and, a live demonstration of the UX-1 robot, one of the main outputs of this EU project. The main sessions of the day, are as follows (the whole program can be seen here):

1 – Morning session: setting the political context: the future of mining in Europe
2 –
Afternoon session I: Raw materials & mining (UNEXMIN project presentations)
3 – Afternoon session II: Robotics & functionalities (UNEXMIN project presentations)
4 – Afternoon round table – Mineral exploration, future and long-term initiatives
5 – UX-1 robot showcase (live demo)

After the success that was this event, as suggested by the approval of UNEXMIN’s stakeholders, it is now time to start packing the final results and outcomes. The UNEXMIN project ends on the 31st of October and, up to that date, the partners still need to finalise their work. This is also true for LPRC, responsible to deliver, among others, a research roadmap for the future of the UNEXMIN technology.

The UNEXMIN team would like to thank everyone that attended the Final Conference. Videos, photos and the presentations of made during the day will be available on the project website soon.

UNEXMIN Consortium meeting, Budapest

LPRC member Luís Lopes recently participated in the UNEXMIN Consortium workshop in Budapest, on the 24 and 25th of June, where the UNEXMIN partners discussed the current state of the technology, the final steps of the UNEXMIN project and the vision and objectives for the future. Discussion and preparation for the field trials at the Molnár János Cave also took place.

The two days event started with discussion on the navigation and autonomy features of the UX-1 robot. Here the technical teams discussed the state-of-the-art of the UNEXMIN technology and the improvements that they need to see to better manage navigation and the crucial autonomy component. After this session, the team focused on the geoscientific evaluation that will need to arise from the data obtained during the different trials. Providing relevant geoscientific data, that cannot be obtained in any other way is the motto of the UNEXMIN technology – the one item that will prove the technology to be of use. The first day finished with a short discussion on the final UNEXMIN conference and its planning – registration is open and free for everyone: https://www.unexmin.eu/unexmin-final-conference/

The second day began with a presentation on the remaining project deliverables, and it continued with interactive debate on future possibilities for the innovative solution. In the afternoon the partners travelled to the Molnár János cave, place where the next and final UNEXMIN field trial will take place, and started the preparations of the testing.

LPRC contributed to discussions on the geosientific data evalutation and preparation as well as relevant input for the remaining period of the UNEXMIN project (until 31st of October) and the future applications of the technology in the market. Glad to be active part in this project!

UNEXMIN presented at AIMS 2019, Aachen

On the 13th and 14th of June, during the AIMS – Aachen International Mining Symposia – 2019, Luís Lopes, from LPRC, gave a talk about the development and current state of the UNEXMIN, under the Second International Conference “Mines of the future”. UNEXMIN is developing an exploration technology that might be part of a vision where mines are innovative and sustainable.

The two days event counted with numerous personnel from academia, research, industry and governmental bodies, all interested or involved in mining and related topics. There has been a number of keynote talks and presentations, divided into sessions and a panel discussion, fostering dialogue on the different emerging topics.

The first day started with three keynote talks about the sustainability of mining in the present and future, and on the current best practices. Six main sessions succeeded, with 4 to 5 presentations per session:

  1. Science: Tailings & Mine wastes
  2. Technology: Digitalisation
  3. Science: Methods & measurements
  4. Science: Mining challenges
  5. Technology: Equipment & methods
  6. Innovation: Modelling

The UNEXMIN project was introduced under session 5 – Technology: Equipment & methods, by Luís Lopes: “Re-exploring flooded mines: the UNEXMIN unique robotic solution”. The talk was well received by the audience, which showed big interest in a number of questions that focused on the technology as well as on policy aspects on its application.

On the second day, two parallel sessions kickstarted discussions: 1) Technology: Resource extraction and 2) Technology: New systems. A unique session on “Responsibility: Engagement and closure” ended the talks of the conference, right before the final panel discussion on the “Mines of the future need to be different from those of today!”.

Posters sessions and exhibitions of mining companies completed a very innovative and interesting event. The network possibilities with partners from different areas of the globe and the raw materials value chain were also very welcome.

It was a great pleasure that LPRC and the UNEXMIN project was represented in an important discussions about the present and future of mining activities, spanning through all the value chain, from exploration to exploitation and even to mine closure and remediation.

LPRC is actively taking part of a change that is already ongoing!

UNEXMIN presented at EGU 2019, Vienna

The UNEXMIN project was presented by LPRC’s member Luís Lopes during this year’s EGU General Assembly meeting, held in Vienna, between the 7th and 12th of April. The overview of the current and future state of the project was presented to a geoscientists audience, interested in  the future state of the mineral exploration sector.

UNEXMIN’s presentation on EGU 2019 was inserted on the session ITS2.2/ERE4.4 – The New Roadmap for Mineral Exploration: Challenges and Innovative approachesLuís Lopes’s talk on UNEXMIN, entitled “UNEXMIN: an innovative approach for mineral exploration in flooded mines “, focused on the project’s innovative solution that aims to contribute to mineral exploration and mapping of flooded underground mines in Europe, without major costs or associated risks. The past, present and future of the technology were covered within the discussed topics that included the development of the robotic system and the field trials.

During the presentation on the project, there were a roomful of 60 people present. A session on Questions and Answers after the talk provided more input on the project to the session participants. It should be noted that the presentation had a positive and intriguiging effect on the audience: a great part showed interest either by making questions during the Q&A session or by directly talking to the presenter after the talk.

Luís Lopes also assisted to the debate on “Science in policymaking: Who is responsible?” and discussed poster presentations on new innovative approaches in mining with their authors during the poster session. LPRC’s line of work directly shines under geoscience and policy making, and therefore, this was a good opportunity to learn about the state of play in these fields.

Link to the debate on “Science in policymaking” debate: https://client.cntv.at/egu2019/gdb2

The UNEXMIN project was communicated and disseminated with LPRC’s efforts once again!

UNEXMIN at the 2nd International Real Time Mining Conference

The UNEXMIN project co-organized the 2nd edition of the Real Time Mining Conference, in Freiberg, Germany, on the 26 and 27 of March 2019. UNEXMIN worked together with the Real Time Mining and SOLSA projects – all Horizon 2020 raw materials funded – to bring together experts from raw materials exploration fields to debate the future of mining exploration.

The first day of the conference included a demonstration of the Real Time Mining project outputs – both on the field and  on the conference room. First, participants had the chance to go inside the Reiche Zeche mine, in Freiberg, where the Real Time Mining project personnel showed and explained their project’s activities. After the visit, participants were invited to learn more about the RTM project’s outputs, results and findings. A series of short presentations introduced each of the Work Packages.

The actual 2nd International Real Time Mining Conference was held on the second day, the 27th of March. The conference brought together technical and overview talks from the UNEXMIN, Real Time Mining and SOLSA projects, and presentations from experts of the mining industry. The contribution from research, education and industry showed by the presentations made an overall picture of the current state and advancements of mining exploration and provided a look into the future.

In total, the UNEXMIN personnel gave four talks during this day. From LPRC, Luís Lopes presented the current state of the UNEXMIN project, as of March 2019. The presentation was well received and gathered a lot of interest in the project and to the more technical presentations that followed. Then throughout the day, presentations on the multispectral camera and its data, 3D mine mapping tools and findings of the field trials, were given by partners University of Miskolc, INESC TEC and Geological Survey of Slovenia, respectively.

Download the UNEXMIN presentation – Project Overview – Real Time Mining conference (March 2019)

By the end of the conference the UNEXMIN team left with a sense of duty accomplished. The project was communicated to a wide range of stakeholders and interest in the project was, once more, raised. LPRC was proud to present the UNEXMIN project and to contribute to discussions towards a more innovative European raw materials future.

UNEXMIN present at the EU Industry Days 2019, Brussels

The UNEXMIN project was present at the EU Industry Days 2019 in Brussels. The event, during the 5th and 6th of February, brought together many stakeholders from the most diverse industrial sectors within Europe and beyond, also including researchers and governmental bodies. Some European funded projects were invited to showcase their innovations and impact in the EU industry landscape. This was the case for UNEXMIN.

During both days of the event the UNEXMIN project booth conveyed a lot of interest from the participants that visited the exhibition area. The UNEXMIN stand counted with three Consortium partner and one robot, the first UX-1 prototype. From La Palma Research Centre, Luís Lopes was present to help in communicating the project to a very diverse audience.

The presence of the UX-1 robot at the UNEXMIN stand surely invited people to come and discuss about the robot itself and the project overall. Past, present and future developments were among discussions as were some future commercial perspectives where the innovative UNEXMIN technology can be applied.

In the end of the event, the UNEXMIN team felt that this was a great opportunity to disseminate and communicate about the project and was very glad to be invited to such an important event. Mission accomplished!

 

UNEXMIN meeting, La Palma

La Palma Research Centre recently had the pleasure to receive the UNEXMIN partners in the island of La Palma, in the Canary Islands, Spain. The meeting that brought together partners to discuss the actual state of UNEXMIN and the future of the project was held on the 10 and 11th of January.

The development of the multi-robotic platform was also discussed and a schedule for the production and assembly of the two other robots was defined. This is an important step in order to guarantee that the UNEXMIN team will have the robots ready in time for the field trials.

The first day started with discussions among the partners about the current state of the trials. Both the data analysis from the previous tests (Idrija and Kaatiala) as well as the two next ones (Urgeiriça and Ecton) were discussed. This last point was of particular importance since the team will have two and three robots in Urgeiriça and Ecton, respectively, which will make the trials ever more complex. Therefore, proper planning is crucial and that was one of the reasons why this meeting was held now. The Urgeiriça trial is planned for March/April, while UNEXMIN will go to Ecton in May.

The other major point of the meeting – on the second day – was the discussion of the short, medium and long-term future of the UNEXMIN technology. Discussions focussed on how to better serve the market with this innovative technology that will result in the exploration and 3D mapping of underground flooded mines and other underwater environments.

Also, on the second day, as an interactive exercise, the partners worked together on a mindmapping exercise that was organised by LPRC. The results from this mindmap as well as from other foresight tools will be input for the research roadmap of the UNEXMIN technology.

This was a successful meeting where all the partners contributed with their views and knowledge and from where a bright future for UNEXMIN could be created!

From LPRC, it was a pleasure to host this meeting and we hope to see our UNEXMIN partners there in a future opportunity.

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