Summary of the second week of the Kaatiala trials

The first field trials with the UX-1 robot are finished. The two-weeks trial ended on the 22nd of June with the robot’s capabilities being extensively tested on a real-life environment: a flooded mine. After the summary of the first working week at the Kaatiala mine site, the remarks of the second week are finally here. Read all about it below, alongside with some nice footage from the work done over the last working week!

On the 16th, the UNEXMIN team had to move its camp and respective working station to the northern part of the Kaatiala lake where the waters go deeper. It is at this site that the entrances to the underground flooded workings – perfect to test the UX-1 robot – could be found.

Then, with everything set-up accordingly, the researchers passed the next three days doing multiple dives with the robot, where UX-1 entered and navigated the underground tunnels. Divers previously placed calibration objects in the tunnels to help with testing UX-1 capabilities: navigation, movement, control, mapping, amonst others.

The tests allowed the UNEXMIN team to test different navigation sensors such as UV and SLS imaging units, multispectral camera, acoustic cameras and laser scanners. These instruments are essential to gather spatial and geoscientific data. The robot’s movement and control was tested by making it pass through the underground tunnels that included a always hazardous junction (hazardous for an automated system such as UX-1!). The robot was successfully tested a couple of times in this environment, before the week was over and the team had to pack everything and leave.

The success of the Kaatiala trials is evident. The UNEXMIN team is confident in further developing the technology and to optimize it. And that is the next step in the robotic platform development: to use the data acquired from this trial and improve the robot’s capabilities for the next trial at the Idrija mercury mine in Slovenia, in September!

Summary of the first week of the Kaatiala trials

The first UNEXMIN field trials finally started last week (11th to the 15th June). And on these five days a lot happened, with much more to come this week.

On the first day, the UNEXMIN team transported the UX-1 robot – weighting around 100Kg! – and all the necessary equipment to the Kaatiala test site. A base was set up at the shallow part of the lake where the tests are being held to allocate the UNEXMIN team and create its working station.

The next two days served as the last dry tests for the robot, as a preparation for the first official UX-1 swim that finally happened on the 14th. All the necessary sub-systems for navigation and motion (e.g. ballast system, SLS, thrusters, IMU, multibeam-sonar, computer control) were tested on the 14–15th of June in 2 to 5m deep water, and autonomous motion and navigation tests started on the 15th.

During the weekend, the UNEXMIN team moved their base to the deep part of the lake, where the underground tunnels are located. It is in this area that the UX-1 robot will perform its autonomous operations during this week.

Besides the testing, the UNEXMIN team have also been busy with a growing interest from the media, translated in some interviews. One Finnish national TV and four newspapers, and one international TV (Euronews) were present at the site to learn more and share the UNEXMIN project to their readers and viewers!

To keep updated on the UNEXMIN activities at the Kaatila test site, please follow us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

UNEXMIN members visiting Sandvik Mining and Construction test mine

UNEXMIN at Tampere Workshop

From the 24th to the 26th of May, UNEXMIN partners held a meeting in Tampere, Finland. The meeting, entitled “End-user requirement specification workshop”, aimed to define and specify the technical features of the autonomous multi-robotic explorer in order to best serve end-users who will enlist UX-1’s services in the future.

Discussions included everything from the robot’s size, weight, shape, its autonomy, navigation, survivability under harsh conditions such as underground mines, to the instruments it will carry for geological data collection and post-processing on its future missions.

During this meeting, six workshops were attended by the consortium members in order to discuss and decide the best solutions for the robot’s developments and construction. These workshops were:

Interactive discussion on one of the workshops

Interactive discussion on one of the workshops

  • Design requirement and environmental consideration
  • Navigation and tracking (including vision sensor configuration)
  • Structural layout and safety/survivability considerations
  • Structural and subsystems design
  • Essential means for successful geological data collection
  • Data processing and post-processing

Every topic of great importance for the project’s development was discussed in these workshops, so everything was covered to ensure things are going in the right direction.

On the last day, the consortium members visited a Sandvik Mining and Construction test mine in which drilling tests and monitoring are performed autonomously, similar to one of the technologies UNEXMIN is adapting and developing during the project lifetime. There was also a tour of the TUT laboratories, where the robot’s hull will be constructed.

One of the many laboratories in TUT – Tampere University of Technology.

One of the many laboratories in TUT – Tampere University of Technology.

This meeting allowed the UNEXMIN group to define a specific strategy for the robot’s developments, taking into account different factors such as end-user requirements, materials and instruments availability and navigation, autonomy and survivability constraints. In the end, it was a productive and enjoyable meeting which will get us closer to the final objective of creating an autonomous multi-robot platform!

UNEXMIN members visiting Sandvik Mining and Construction test mine

UNEXMIN members visiting the Sandvik Mining and Construction test mine