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

Developing science and technology

UNEXMIN is an EU-funded project that develops a novel robotic system, primarily for the autonomous exploration and mapping of Europe’s flooded mines. The Robotic Explorer platform, made by three robots – UX-1a, UX-1b and UX-1c, will use non-invasive methods for autonomous 3D mine mapping for gathering valuable geological, mineralogical and spatial information. This can possibly open new exploration scenarios so that strategic decisions on the re-opening of Europe’s abandoned mines could be supported by actualised data that cannot be obtained by any other ways, without major costs.

Once it is put together, the Multi-robot Platform will represent a new technology line that is only made possible by recent developments in autonomy research that allows the development of a completely new class of mine explorer service robots, capable of operating without remote control. Such robots do not exist nowadays and UX-1 will be the first of its kind.

Major research challenges are related to miniaturisation and adaptation of deep sea robotics technology to this new application environment and to the interpretation of geoscientific data.

Work is currently ongoing with component validation and simulations to understand the behavior of technology components and instruments to the application environment. This phase will then be followed by the construction of the first UX-1 Prototype – starting this fall. Post processing and data analysis tools are already being developed, and pre-operational trials will be launched in real life conditions at four different mine sites. The final, most ambitious demonstration will take place in the UK with the resurveying of the entire flooded section of the Ecton underground mine (UK) that nobody has seen for over 150 years!

The first prototype is envisaged to be ready by early-2018, while the first mine-trial will happen by mid-2018.

Project details:

  • Project starting date: 1 February 2016
  • Duration: 45 months
  • Budget: EUR 4 862 865
  • Output: 3 working prototypes