The Real-Time Mining Conference

This autumn, UNEXMIN will be presented at the Real-Time Mining Conference, an international conference on innovation in raw materials extraction. Co-organised by the Real-Time Mining project and three other Horizon2020 raw materials projects, namely UNEXMIN, ¡VAMOS!, and SOLSA, the conference will be held in Amsterdam on the 10th and 11th of October this year.

The Real-Time Mining Conference

This event aims to bring together raw materials and robotics experts from various European-sponsored projects to exchange ideas and rise synergies on innovation in resource extraction. Opportunities to create new ideas for current European projects and for future collaborations are envisioned to arise from the meeting.

The Real-Time Mining project is creating an innovative concept for predictions and measurements in mining operations. The key circular factors in this novel mining operational concept are 1) Mine Planning and Prediction, 2) Operation of the Mine Plan, 3) Online Sensor-Based Measurements and 4) Real-Time Resource/Reserve-Model Updating. These factors come together to realise of the vision of near-continuous process control and operational optimisation in mining activities.

The real-time continuous closed-loop process, as proposed by the Real-Time Mining project.

The main topics of the conference are Positioning and Material Tracking, Automated Material Characterisation, Resource Modelling, Process Optimisation, and Data Management. The conference will focus on these points, however there will be the opportunity for concept presentations on closely-related topics.

The UNEXMIN consortium is glad to take part in this event, during which we will present our highly relevant technology concept – building an autonomous robotic explorer for the exploration and mapping of flooded mines.

There is a call for abstracts (see the topics above) that will run until the end of April. For registration, abstract and paper submission (as well as other enquiries), please contact Dr. Mike Buxton –  Phone: +31(0)152789674; E-mail: M.W.N.Buxton@tudelft.nl; Civil Engineering and Geosciences, TU Delft, Stevinweg 1 Delft.

For more information, check out the Real-Time Mining website!

Technology Appraisal Workshop

From the 31st of January to the 2nd of February, the UNEXMIN partners got together for an important three-day meeting entitled “Technology Appraisal Workshop”. The main objectives of this meeting were to review the work done in all areas of the project including technology developments, instrumentation, dissemination, and more, to appraise the numerous technological developments, and to conduct discussions in technical workshops and two internal meetings (Steering Committee and Advisory Board) with the goal of deciding the way forward for the coming year during which we will shortly begin the construction of the first ‘UX-1’ robotic prototype. The Advisory Board, which includes professionals from robotics and raw materials, was present and gave their valuable input and expertise to the workshop. This convention also marked an important occasion for the project for two reasons: it took place as UNEXMIN completed one full year since its formal beginning in February 2016, and also Milestone 2, ‘UX-1 technical specifications delivered’, was successfully achieved.

General discussion about the project’s three future collaborative robots

Technical discussion about the general layout and mechanical design

The first day was committed to a general revision of all the currently on-going work packages and involved all work that has been done until now. During this day, suggestions to improve the workflow arose. The consortium members could see blueprints of the mechanical-prototype (see below), the instrumentation that is going to be used, and even statistics about project material from the website and social media. The second day consisted of a major technology appraisal discussion which lead to a debate on topics relevant to the functionality of the multi-robotic system – collaboration between robots and support services -, as well as workshops on technological developments on control systems and data conversion, and communication and dissemination strategy, together with the kick-off of Work Packages 3 ‘Autonomy for mine exploration and mapping’ and Work Package 4 ‘Multi-robot platform development’ – both of which are starting very soon: these work packages will produce relevant work for the functionality of the entire robotic system. The third day was devoted to further technical discussions and decision-making on the mechanical design, sensory array and systems testing.

General design of the future UX-1 robot

UNEXMIN will now continue with the development and testing of further technical instruments – specially with scientific equipment and sensors. In the following months we expect to complete the laboratory and real environmental tests on the instrumentation units and define the robot’s software architecture and mechanics, among others. In twelve-month’s time we hope to deliver a major milestone when the first UX-1 robot prototype will be ready. The much anticipated construction phase will soon begin!

UNEXMIN comsortium members during the Technology Appraisal Workshop

UNEXMIN Timeline for 2017

The UNEXMIN project is on its second year – we started working in February 2016. After one year of major discussions, developments, doubts and certainties, we are entering the year of 2017 with a great sense of work. And there is a lot of important topics that need all the attention and work from the UNEXMIN consortium. The project is now starting a real crucial phase, where testing the scientific equipment and sensors in laboratory and real environment (in conditions similar to those in flooded mines: confined space, low visibility, etc…), further elaboration on mechanical and software aspects, that will ultimately lead to the construction of the first robotic prototype.

We expect the first UX-1 robot to be ready on the beginning of 2018. A year full of work and commitment is ahead of us!

See our timeline, with the most important goals, for the current here:

UNEXMIN Timeline 2017

Interview with Jussi Aaltonen, WP1 leader (from Tampere University of Technology)

“Requirements and specifications are the easy part. The hardest is to design a robot complying them all.”

The UNEXMIN project is almost one year old. After a busy first year of work, UNEXMIN is on-schedule to deliver the first mechanical UX-1 prototype. Jussi Aaltonen, from TUT (Tampere University of Technology), leaders of WP1 – Robotic Functions Validations, talks about what has been done over the past year concerning his team’s work in UNEXMIN’s development scene.

 

Luís Lopes, LPRC: What is WP1 (Robotic Functions Validations) and what has been developed from it?
Jussi Aaltonen: The purpose of WP1 is to develop and validate a robotic platform, i.e. all mechanical and mechatronic structures, systems and components of UX-1 (the name of the robot). Also, low level (directional) control principles are developed and validated in this work package. WP1 has successfully established a robotic platform which fulfils all necessary requirements.

LL: How important is the work developed in WP1 for the future UX-1 robots?
JA: Work in WP1 is fundamental for the successful completion of the project. All later development stages rely on this work.

LL: The systems/subsystems that the robot will employ were defined in this WP. What can you tell about them? How crucial are they for the robot’s overall functionality?
JA: All systems are needed for the robot to achieve full functionality. However, survivability, i.e. the robot’s capability to return from its missions, is more heavily affected by some systems than others. It is, for example, possible to return with a broken multi-spectral camera, but losing a sonar may cause the robot to be lost.

LL: What kinds of tests were developed to test the hardware/software systems? How about the results obtained, were they positive?
JA: Tests are done as so-called hardware-in-the-loop (HWIL) tests in laboratory. In HWIL testing, computer simulations and real hardware components interact, making it possible to do laboratory testing more closely to real operating conditions. Components and systems have also been tested in the pool by using a plastic mock-up of UX-1. Tests have been successful, which, unfortunately, does not always mean positive results. But weaknesses were found and lessons learned.

LL: In what conditions was the prototype tested?
JA: Tests have been done in shallow depths (below 5 m) and moderate temperatures. Pressure testing at 60 bars (equivalent of 600 m depth) will start soon.

LL: The robot is designed considering stakeholders’ wants. How hard was it to define the requirements and specifications for the UX-1 robots?
JA: I have to say that requirements and specifications are the easy part. The hardest is to design a robot complying them all.

 

UNEXMIN meeting - visit TUT labs

Jussi Aaltonen explaining some robotics-specific topics.

WP1 is fundamental for the successful completion of the project.

There will probably be some heated discussions, but that is only a sign of people being passionate about their work.

LL: Being leader of such an important WP of the UNEXMIN project must be challenging. Has it worked out as you imagined? Do you feel that everything has been accomplished?
JA: Over this past year of cooperation, UNEXMIN teams from the various partners have gotten to know each other and each other’s ways of working. The possibilities to meet the others in person and to really collaborate in real life conditions, such as in workshops, have been a great benefit and a very important thing, bonding people from all around Europe together and working towards  a common goal. Of course there are always some challenges. The biggest challenge has been finding a common and efficient enough platform for information exchange.

LL: TUT will organise a UNEXMIN workshop in the beginning of February (2017) in Tampere, Finland. What can be expected to come out of this?
JA: This event will conclude the work of the first year in the UNEXMIN project. Most of the work packages have already started or about to start (exception goes to WP7: Demonstration/Pilots), and thus we will hear a lot about results and developments in this meeting. We will also hear about the plans for a couple of essential work packages starting right after the meeting. I expect that we will have a good and fruitful meeting with the same good spirit and warm atmosphere that we have always had. There will probably be some heated discussions, but that is only a sign of people being passionate about their work.

LL: You are a specialist in the robotics field. What possible impact do you think the UNEXMIN project will have on the robotics field?
JA: UX-1 [UNEXMIN robot design-prototypes] will have a very different structure and layout than what autonomous underwater vehicles usually have. This will most probably have some effects on the field of robotics and will open new doors to further miniaturised underwater robots – the future starts here. Also, the environment where UX-1 will operate is probably the most challenging after Mars and asteroid landers and that will also give tiger leaps in the field of robotics, developing new and better robotic systems.

LL: After one year, how do you feel the UNEXMIN project has progressed?
JA: We are roughly in the place where we should be according to our plans. Work has been harder than what was expected. On the other hand we learned a lot more, while we still have managed to keep in pace.

 

Do you have any specific questions you would like to have answered? Just write them in the comments!

UNEXMIN at the Budapest Water Summit 2016

From 28th to 30th November 2016, the “Budapest Water Summit 2016 (BWS 2016)” was held in the Hungarian capital. This event results from an intense cooperation between the Hungarian Government and the World Water Council aiming for cooperation, peace and development for countries that are aiming to be more sustainable, managing conflicts and global risks that concern water. The participants of the Budapest Water Summit 2016 discussed solutions to be adopted by international bodies, with guidelines within the “Budapest Statement 2016“.

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The UNEXMIN project Poster received a lot of curious visitors!

The University of Miskolc had their H2020 projects on an exposition – Sustainable Water Solutions Expo – to promote their projects internationally. UNEXMIN was one of these projects. The President of the Hungarian Republic met the Dean of the Faculty of Earth Science and Engineering of the University of Miskolc, the Coordinating organization of UNEXMIN.

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President of Hungary, János Áder, visits the exhibition booth of UNIM: On the left, Tamás Madarász, on the center, Péter Szűcs, dean of the Faculty of Earth Science and Engineering and on the right, János Áder, the President of Hungary.

Also in Hungary occurred the “Yearly Meeting of the Mineralogy, Petrology and Geochemistry Teaching Institutes of Hungary”, between 17-18th of November, where Norbert Zajzon, UNEXMIN project coordinator, presented a talk entitled “Preliminary results of the UNEXMIN H2020 project”, this one directed to participants from the fields of geology, mainly mineralogy and petrology.

UNEXMIN is developing a game-changing new technology line that will lead Europe to the forefront of areas like raw materials, robotics and water management.