Summary of the field tests at the Molnár János cave, Hungary

From the 26th of June to the 5th of July 2019, the UNEXMIN project was in Budapest, Hungary, for the last trial activities within the project’s lifetime. After the trials at four mine sites (Kaatiala – Finland, Idrija – Slovenia, Urgeiriça – Portugal and Ecton – UK) it was time to test the robotic solution in a new environment. For this purpose, a cave system was chosen – the Molnár János cave.

The trials at the Molnár János cave involved using the two existent UX-1 robots – UX-1a and UX-1b – to explore, map and collect information about the flooded area of the cave. Robotic capabilities including movement, control and data analysis, but with focus on autonomy, were extensively tested, with paramount results. The following items give an account of the activities and results derived from the UNEXMIN’s activities at the Molnár János cave:

  • 26th of June (Wednesday): Setting up the test site and preparation/testing of the UX-1 robots. Studying of current maps of the cave.
  • 27th of June (Thursday): The first official dive happened on the 27th of June. The UX-1b robot was used. It was able to dive up to 8m depth and map the main chamber of the cave. This mission lasted for 35 minutes.
  • 28th of June (Friday): Similarly to the previous day UX-1b was used. The robot explored a small portion of the cave outside of the main chamber in a 1h30 mission.
  • 29th of June (Saturday): Three dives were made on this day: one with UX-1a and two with UX-1b. The main chamber and some other smaller parts of the cave were mapped by the robots. In total, the robots were in the water for more than 2 hours.
  • 30th of June (Sunday): UNEXMIN off-day!
  • 1st of July (Monday): UX-1a was used three times during this day to explore the main parts of the cave system. Missions lasted for 4 hours in total. During these tests, the robot used autonomous waypoint navigation successfully – the robot was autonomous! UX-1a managed to get very good camera images from a very warm water (around 23ºC).
  • 2nd of July (Tuesday): Both UX-1 robots were working at the same time in the water, independently, to map and collect data from different areas of the cave. Teamwork!
  • 3rd of July (Wednesday): Three dives, two with UX-1a and one with UX-1b. Autonomy was the focus of these tests.
  • 4th of July (Thursday): Last dives of the robots: one for UX-1a, another for UX-1b. The robots’ capabilities, mainly movement and control, were targeted. During this last day of testing, the robots’ missions lasted for more than 5 hours, when combined.

With the ending of the Molnár János exploratory works, the UNEXMIN project was able to prove across the past year that its technology to explore and map flooded mines  – and other environments – is feasible and a good solution to a big problem: the lack of information from flooded environments. This was a major objective of the project, so the team considers it a success!

Now, it is time to wrap up things, process the data available and present UNEXMIN’s major results and outputs to the public during the final conferenceentrance is free, but registration is required.

UNEXMIN presented at AIMS “Mines of the Future” 2019 in Aachen

The UNEXMIN project was presented in the AIMS – Aachen International Mining Symposia- 2019 “Mines of the Future”. The current status and future of the project were presented to an audience of geologists, mining engineers and other geoscientific-related personnel from academia, research, industry and governmental bodies.

The first day started with three keynote talks about the sustainability of mining in the present and future, and on the current best practices. Six main sessions succeeded, with 4 to 5 presentations per session:

Science: Tailings & Mine wastes
Technology: Digitalisation
Science: Methods & measurements
Science: Mining challenges
Technology: Equipment & methods
Innovation: Modelling

The UNEXMIN project was introduced under session 5 – Technology: Equipment & methods. Entitled “Re-exploring flooded mines: the UNEXMIN unique robotic solution” the presentation focused on the current state and the future opportunities created by this innovative exploration technology.

On the second day, two parallel sessions kickstarted discussions: 1) Technology: Resource extraction and 2) Technology: New systems. A unique session on “Responsibility: Engagement and closure” ended the talks of the conference, right before the final panel discussion on the “Mines of the future need to be different from those of today!”.

It was great to have the UNEXMIN project represented in important discussions about the present and future of mining activities, spanning through all the value chain, from exploration to exploitation and even to mine closure and remediation.

The UNEXMIN technology will shape the future of mineral exploration!

UNEXMIN consortium meeting in Budapest: final decisions and preparations made ahed of Molnár János field trials

The UNEXMIN project held its most recent consortium workshop in Budapest on the 24th and 25th of June. The project partners took this opportunity to discuss the state of the technology, future perspectives and prepare the field trials at the Molnár János cave, the last big step in the mission planning and execution.

The two days event started with discussions on the navigation and autonomy features of the UX-1 robots. Here the technical teams discussed the state-of-the-art of the UNEXMIN technology and the improvements that they need to see to better manage navigation and the crucial autonomy component. After this session, the team focused on the geoscientific evaluation that will need to arise from the data obtained during the different trials. Providing geoscientific data of relevance that cannot be obtained in any other way is the motto of the UNEXMIN technology – the one item that will prove the technology as usable. The first day finished with a short discussion on the final UNEXMIN conference and its planning – registration is open and free for everyone.

The second day began with a talk on the remaining of the UNEXMIN project lifetime deliverables as well as an interactive debate on future possibilities for the innovative solution. In the afternoon the partners travelled to the Molnár János cave, place where the next and final UNEXMIN field trial will occur, to start preparations of the testing.

The UNEXMIN team will now continue with the many aspects of developing such a challenging technology, that will be presented during the final UNEXMIN conference!

The final field trials started today!

The last field trials with the UNEXMIN’s technology started today. The team is now in Budapest where it is using it’s UX-1 robots to explore, map and obtain critical information about the Molnár János cave – a new type of test environment.

From the 26th of June to the 5th of July the UNEXMIN team will be stationed in Budapest with the aim to use the UX-1 robots to dive and explore the Molnár János cave, famous for its big size and layout. After testing its robotic system in four mines around Europe – Kaatiala, Idrija, Urgeiriça and Ecton – the consortium decided to take the chance to use its system in an unknown environment to the team – a cave system. This differs from the usual mine setup in the sense that there is no expected structure inside the cave system – the irregular layout might negatively influence the navigation and other capabilities of the robot.

The need to test in different environments is necessary in order to better understand the capabilities of the robot and the technology as a whole, which, in turn, allows the development to better fit different needs. The team will use this opportunity to strenghten the robot’s autonomy and other functionalities.

Follow @UNEXMIN on our social media channels to keep up with the most recent news on the Molnár János field trials: FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

Register for the UNEXMIN final conference now!

The UNEXMIN final conference will be held in Brussels, on the 26th of September. Registration is open and can be accessed now. It is free!

Dear Sir/Madam,

As the coordinator of the UNEXMIN project, it is my pleasure to invite you to our final conference. This event will be the end of a 4-year journey that led to the development of a robotic platform allowing to explore flooded mines and other flooded structures and environments. During our final conference, you will have the chance to learn more about the project outcomes and its connection to European policies. Come, meet the team and learn all about UNEXMIN!

By the way, we will have a very special guest: the first UX-1 robot itself!

See you hopefully soon in Brussels,

Norbert Zajzon

 

About the event

The EU-funded UNEXMIN project is developing a technology capable of autonomous exploration and mapping of flooded underground mines. The robotic platform uses non-contact methods to gather geological, mineralogical and spatial data without major costs or risks associated. The field trials, set up at four different flooded underground mines in Europe, have helped the team to access the platform’s development and to improve this unique exploration technology.

The event programme will include high-level discussions on European innovative raw materials policies, UNEXMIN’s support to those policies, and on the capabilities and future application of the exploration system. The conference will thus provide a unique opportunity to discover the outcomes of the UNEXMIN project and its specific fields of work, including minerals exploration, raw materials exploitation, and robotics and ICT development, with cross-cutting discussions that will demonstrate the impact that UNEXMIN can have on the European landscape. The conference is particularly relevant for EU policymakers, academics, mineral exploration and exploitation companies, cave exploration companies, SMEs focussing on geological consultancy and minerals surveying, and robotics and ICT experts from private and public institutions.


Programme

Several speakers have already confirmed their attendance and you can discover here an overview of the programme:

Morning session: setting the political context: the future of mining in Europe

  • Aim of the call for proposals – Marcin Sadowski (EASME, Head of sector – Raw Materials)
  • UNEXMIN – aim and outcomes – Norbert Zajzon (UNEXMIN, project coordinator, University of Miskolc)
  • ROBOMINERS H2020 project – Claudio Rossi (ROBOMINERS, project coordinator, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid)

Afternoon session I: Raw materials & mining

  • UNEXMIN processing and data analysis – Stephen Henley (RCI/4dcoders)
  • UNEXMIN field trials and geological interpretation – Gorazd Zibret (Geological Survey of Slovenia)
  • UNEXMIN Inventory of flooded mines – Yves Vanbrabant (Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, EFG-Linked Third Party) 

Afternoon session II: Robotics & functionalities

  • UX-1 robotic functions: testing and validation – Jussi Aaltonen (University of Tampere)
  • UX-1 multi robot platform – Alfredo Martins (Instituto de Engenharia de Sistemas e Computadores, Tecnologia e Ciência)
  • UX-1 autonomy, mine exploration and mapping – Claudio Rossi (Universidad Politécnica de Madrid)

Round table – Mineral exploration, future and long-term initiatives

Venue

Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences
Vautierstreet, 29 I 1000 Brussels I Belgium

Registration

Full information is available at https://www.unexmin.eu/unexmin-final-conference
Participation in this event is free but requires registration.
To register, please fill in the form at https://forms.gle/V64vHekSZVbTZmo59