Inside Unmanned Systems

DEC 2016-JAN 2017

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

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8 unmanned systems inside December 2016/January 2017 AIR MINING Photos courtesy of Kespry and Pix4D Unmanned aerial systems can be used for a variety of mining tasks, including measuring the volume of stockpiles, monitoring blasts and mapping construction. Inside Unmanned Systems reached out to industry experts and drone manufacturers to fi nd out how mining fi rms are using drones today and where they see this technology headed in the future. F lying unmanned aerial systems is just part of the workf low at the 10 Barrick Gold Corp. mines scattered through- out North and South America. The company first began using unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in 2012, and since then has embraced the many benefits drones bring to mining sites, from increased safety to enhanced efficiencies, said Iain Allen, senior manager for mining information technology. Today, most of the sites deploy drones, such as senseFly's fixed- wing eBee, at least three times a week, with a site in the Dominican Republic flying every day. At first, the Barrick mines focused on stock- pile volume measurements—probably the most common use for drones in the mining industry to date—and then added orthophoto mapping. The application possibilities seem endless, which is why Allen expects most mining companies to invest in UAS for measurement, monitoring and maintenance tasks in the next few years. "Everyone in the industry is realizing the value of drones. They'll soon become a stan- dard practice," Allen said. "There's just too much value not to have one." Stockpile Measurement Before drones, measuring stockpiles was a labor-intensive job that took a lot of time, said David Shearer, vice president of marketing at Kespry, a company that delivers end-to-end drone solutions. Getting the measurements meant climbing on the stockpiles with GPS equipment, a dangerous, physically demanding proposition that most surveyors prefer to avoid. The surveyors would take multiple data points and then map them to estimate the stockpile's size—not the most accurate way for a business to manage and keep track of inventory. HOW DRONES ARE CHANGING THE MINING INDUSTRY and MONITORING, MAPPING MEASURING: by Renee Knight The Kespry drone fl ew a mine site to collect the data needed to generate these 3-D models for pit mine planning and stockpile sizing.

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