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Mine drone startup Emesent raises $3.5m

By on 7 November, 2018

Emesent co-founders Stefan Hrabar and Farid Kendoul. Image provided by Data61.

CSIRO autonomous drone spin-off Emesent has raised $3.5 million in venture capital to commercialise its first product, autonomous capture technology for GPS-denied environments.

Hovermap, which leverages 3D LiDAR-based simultaneous localisation and mapping (3D SLAM) technology, set a record last year with the first fully autonomous, beyond-visual-line-of-sight drone flight in an underground setting, 600 metres below ground.

Now the startup spawned by CSIRO’s technology arm, Data61, has raised a significant figure to bring the technology to the mass market.

Dr. Stefan Hrabar, co-founder and CEO of Emesent said that the windfall will enable them to find a global foothold for the sophisticated tool.

“The investment will give us the opportunity to build out our team from seven to 25, and make Emesent a global leader in drone autonomy and automated underground data collection and analysis,” he said.

3D point cloud map of a mine stope created with Hovermap. Image provided by Data61.

According to Data61, Hovermap draws on a decade of research by CSIRO’s Robotics and Autonomous Systems group into drone autonomy and 3D SLAM techniques.

Whilst being used commercially already, a new program providing early access to mining-specific autonomy functions is now being made available to participants selected by Emesent.

“Hovermap enables the mining industry to safely inspect inaccessible areas of underground mines, while improving the type and quality of data collected to unlock new insights,” Dr. Hrabar said.

“This includes comparing the stope design to the actual post-blast shape to detect over-break and under-break, identification of geotechnical structures and accurate post-blast volume reconciliations. The data we gather improves a mine’s productivity and provides a better understanding of conditions underground, all without sending surveyors and miners into potentially hazardous areas.”

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