University of Miskolc (UNIM) doing some field tests for the UX-1 instruments

Work begins in the lab on UX-1: Part 2 – University of Miskolc

In one of the latest posts on UNEXMIN, it was presented the work being done by TUT. Now it’s time for another team of the UNEXMIN’s consortium.

The UNIM team comes from the University of Miskolc, Hungary. They are responsible for Work Package 2 “Scientific instrument design and adaptation” and are working one of the most important areas for the future multi-robotic system – building tailor-made instruments that will allow the robot to get the most meaningful geoscientific data possible inside flooded mines.

Many of the spaces designed for the UX-1 submersible will be filled with scientific instruments developed by UNIM

Inside Work Package 2, UNIM is responsible for deliverables such as the “Parameter framework report”, “General interface specification report”, “Laboratory test reports of instrumentation units” and “Real environment test report of instrumentation units”. In short, UNIM has been studying and developing the scientific instruments while testing them in the laboratory and in field conditions. These steps will guarantee that the scientific components work at maximum efficiency in flooded mine environments (confined places, pressure and temperature constraints, etc).

University of Miskolc (UNIM) doing some field tests for the UX-1 instruments

UNIM team testing the scientific instrumentation in the field (Rudabánya open-pit mine)

UNIM’s work, which started right in the beginning of the project, can, in a nutshell, be described as defining, adapting, testing and calibrating the various scientific instruments (see the list below) that the UX-1 robot will carry on board during its missions. The scientific instrumentation was carefully chosen: the consortium had to evaluate considerations from the project stakeholders in what they wanted in the robotic system (user requirements) and various constraints related to the prototype design (i.e. size and weight limitations). These important factors limit the amount of equipment available for the robotic system.

The list of scientific apparatus include:

  • pH unit
  • Electrical conductivity analyser
  • Pressure and temperature analyser
  • Water Sampler
  • Magnetic field measurer
  • Gamma-ray meter
  • Sub-bottom profiler
  • Multispectral camera
  • UV fluorescence unit

Some of the scientific equipment being tested. On the left: Test equipment for pH ; On the right: Underwater test equipment for UV lighting

The instrumentation listed above can be divided into Water sampling methods (including pH, electrical conductivity, pressure and temperature measurements), Geophysical methods (including Magnetic field, Gamma-ray, Sub-bottom profile measurements) and mineralogical – or optical – methods (including multispectral camera and UV fluorescence measurements). These methods will substitute the impossibility to use direct methods like collect rock samples from mining walls, thus allowing the robot to still get valuable nonscientific data. In a project of this nature, valuable data is everything.

The results of the work being developed by UNIM will be seen when the first robotic prototype UX-1 is ready to be tested in early 2018 – the first test is scheduled for May, in the Kaatiala Mine, Finland.

Fictional depiction of the multi-robotic platform UX-1 in work in a flooded mine

UNEXMIN during April

In April, UNEXMIN continued to develop, adapt and test instruments for the upcoming UX-1 robotic explorer prototype. Also in progress is the development of data collection, processing and analysis tools. Software development is a critical step, as gathering and processing meaningful data from the flooded mines will be challenging.

During this time, UNEXMIN was also presented and discussed in conferences and other events across Europe. The dissemination agenda is important as it makes the project visible to its target audience of engineers, geologists and other relevant researchers and industries:

EGU General Assembly 2017

UNEXMIN was presented by LPRC on the opening day of EGU 2017. Luís Lopes’ talk reviewed the most important aspects of the project such as the concept and methodology, work developed and in development, and the potential impact and future further developments. 

XXXI MicroCAD MultiScience Conference

UNEXMIN was also delivered as a plenary talk at the international XXXI MicroCAD MultiScience Conference in Hungary. The audience was given an overview of the project, as well as a unique insight into the work being developed by UNEXMIN’s technology-focussed partners.

Universidad Politécnica de Madrid

Led by Claudio Rossi, UNEXMIN’s partners at UPM won a scientific poster competition in an event held by the engineering school. UNEXMIN won this award from a pool of over 160 projects, covering all areas of engineering. Take a look at our award-winning poster here.

 

Work begins in the lab on UX-1: Part 1 – Tampere University of Technology

The UNEXMIN project is now in its second year. After the first year, where work mainly focussed on preparatory tasks such as research and component-design, the project is now entering its most important phase prior to testing. During this phase, the custom-designed casing and instrumentation hardware will be manufactured and assembled to create the first UX-1 robotic prototype, which is due in the beginning of 2018.

General layout of the future UX-1 robot

Like much of the work done in the previous year, the majority of the workload in the coming months will be centred in the labs of some of the project’s partners, including TUT (Tampere University of Technology), UNIM (University of Miskolc), UPM (Universidad Politécnica de Madrid), INESC TEC (Instituto de Engenharia de Sistemas e Computadores, Tecnologia e Ciência), and RCI (Resources Computing International).

Hands-on lab-work is essential in UNEXMIN, where we are creating a new technology that will be capable of autonomously exploring and mapping flooded mines. For the success of the project, our team has to continually conduct research and testing and implement necessary modifications. Everything must be optimised and fine-tuned if all the equipment, such as the on-board computer, batteries, and thrusters, is to fit inside the spherical robotic prototype.

The work of TUT (Tampere University of Technology), one of the project’s leading partners, is mainly centred on the development of the robotics components of UX-1. TUT are responsible for a total of 10 predefined deliverables including ‘Robotic Platform Prototype requirement specifications‘, ‘Robotic Platform Prototype technical and mission specifications‘, and ‘Stakeholder-requirement specifications‘. Among their various other responsibilities, these deliverables are essential for the development of the robotic prototype and the definition of its available services.

The TUT team preparing the UX-1 plastic mock-up for a stability test

UNEXMIN meeting - visit TUT labs

A demonstration of TUT’s implemented UX-1 remote-operation capabilities

 

Since the beginning of the project, Jussi Aaltonen‘s team at TUT have been working on the definition of the robotics specifications that will serve has the base for construction the UX-1 prototypes. To date, TUT have designed and tested key robotics features necessary for implementation in flooded underground mines. TUT’s activities have included pool tests at their testing pool using a plastic mock-up of UX-1, functionality testing of robotics equipment in the laboratory, and also software and hardware testing.

A UX-1 plastic mock-up

The TUT team is currently finalising the technical specifications and mechanical design of the prototype, as well as building the pressure hull that will support the internal components of the robotics system. Fabrication of the pressure hull components will begin shortly, once the final mechanical analyses are complete. The first UX-1 prototype will be ready at the beginning of 2018!

 

UNEXMIN @ EGU 2017

The European Geoscience Union (EGU) General Assembly, will take place this year in Vienna in two weeks from now (23-28 April). EGU2017 is a relevant international event with major focus on the Earth Sciences, and the UNEXMIN project will be presented there to a large and relevant audience.

The main aim of EGU General Assembly 2017 is to get together geoscientists from all around the globe to one place, covering all the disciplines not only in the Earth Sciences, but also in the Planetary and Space sciences. This event will provide a place for scientists and researchers from all levels of education to present their work and to discuss ideas with other fellow scientists and experts.

EGU 2017 programme is divided by programme groups and sessions covering all the disciplines from the science areas above described (e.g. mineralogy, geochemistry, energy and resources). Besides the usual oral presentations (UNEXMIN will be presented this way), there will be poster sessions, PICO sessions (a more interactive kind of presentation) and many other activities during the EGU week, like Short courses, debates and award sessions.

EGU 2016 (blogs.egu.eu)

The UNEXMIN project will be presented at EGU2017 by LPRC members in name of the UNEXMIN consortium on Monday morning, 24th, within the “ERE1.1 – Energy, Resources & the Environment” session and the oral presentation is entitled “UNEXMIN H2020 Project: an underwater explorer for flooded mines”. The presentation will give an overview of the project and its developments since the beginning as well as a brief update on the first results. The abstract for this event is available at: UNEXMIN abstract

All in all, the EGU2017 is the perfect place for people interested in the Earth Sciences to get to know the project. UNEXMIN’s abstract and presentation have also been given the “Highlight” status – defining it as one of the most interesting topics – for Monday. This is the prize for developing such an interesting technology that can help shape the future of the geoscientific world by gathering data that cannot be currently accessed in any other way!

UNEXMIN present in MIN-GUIDE policy laboratory 2

During 21st and 22nd of March, the UNEXMIN project was represented in the MIN-GUIDE Policy Laboratory 2 (Innovations and supporting policies for minerals exploration and extraction), in Leoben, Austria.

This workshop, integrated in the MIN-GUIDE project, focused on new innovative technologies and supporting policies used, or to be used, in the minerals exploration and extraction activities – UNEXMIN technology was one of these new technologies to be discussed. Norbert Zazjon, UNEXMIN project coordinator, delivered two talks about the UNEXMIN project to a technological audience, a group of stakeholders included in UNEXMIN.

Norbert Zajzon at MIN-GUIDE policy laboratory 2

Norbert Zajzon presenting the UNEXMIN project

First, in the Policy Laboratory entitled “Listening, exchanging, and learning”, where inserted in the Policy Lab 3: Deep sea mining, Norbert exposed Underwater exploration and mining, using UNEXMIN and its developing technology as a discussing point. Then, UNEXMIN was presented again, this time on the Policy Laboratory (Exploring transferability) on the same Underwater exploration and mining topic. These policy labs, each divided into three sub laboratories were based on “innovation in exploration and extraction, enabling environments and supporting policies”.

Policy Lab 3: Deep Sea Mining with the presence of Norbert Zajzon and UNEXMIN (Credits: MIN-GUIDE)

The UNEXMIN project is glad to be developing a new technology that will change the minerals exploration paradigm, by developing a multi-robotic solution that can autonomously explore and map flooded mines, being able to use its technology in environments that are difficult to access today. This will allow the UNEXMIN technology to obtain geological (and other) information that cannot be obtained in any other way.

Deep sea mining is right ahead in the mining scheme and UNEXMIN will be part of that future!