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Dwyka Mining Services and Maestro Digital Mine showcase connected worker and robotic dog solutions

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Global Mining Review,

In a new development being showcased for the first time at Mining Indaba, Boston Dynamics Spot Enterprise robot, equipped with Maestro’s IIoT gas sensor, can be operated on site at mines to detect hazardous gasses such carbon monoxide, without putting mining and ventilation teams in danger.

Hazardous gasses underground are an invisible threat to mining teams, who often do not know they are in danger until it is too late. This gas build-up can be created through the exposed strata, blasting, daily ‘mucking’ and even runaway battery fires on critical machinery. Traditionally, the gas levels are measured by the ventilation system at the return air raises or wearable sensors donned by miners. While this fixed infrastructure has saved countless lives, mobile autonomous inspection on aerial and ground robots of strategic areas before re-entry or in emergency situations are the next step to complete real-time coverage.

In a new development being showcased for the first time at Mining Indaba, Boston Dynamics Spot Enterprise robot, equipped with Maestro’s IIoT gas sensor, can be operated on site at mines to detect hazardous gasses such as carbon monoxide, without putting mining and ventilation teams in danger. Ventilation and mining teams will easily be able to add different gas sensors onto the connected Zephyr Air Quality Station, capturing critical environmental data to proactively identify gas or temperature challenges.

“The established client base of Maestro Digital Mine environmental sensors will allow us to make the technology mobile for broader applications. We’re very excited about this integration with Maestro Digital Mine as a future partner payload for Boston Dynamics Spot Enterprise solution and look forward to continually improving worker safety for whole-of-mine deployment with our new best friend Spot.” said Jamie van Schoor, CEO of Dwyka Mining Services.

Boston Dynamics Spot Enterprise is an agile mobile robot designed to navigate all types of terrain, allowing organisations to automate routine inspection tasks, capture data securely and safely, and allow for streamlined operations in complex and dangerous environments.

Using the Spot Enterprise on-board processing the data is shared wirelessly over WiFi and gas and temperature sensor readings are captured while the robot is in operation and displayed in real time via the Maestro LinkTM Server application. With the addition of a SLAM scanning unit sensor, like the Emesent Hovermap, readings can be saved with precise coordinates in a high-fidelity point cloud that can be exported and examined in a variety of mining software packages..

“Collaborating with our mud-in-boots partner, Dwyka Mining Services who are always pushing the envelope with technology integration with pioneering brands like Boston Dynamics, is in turn pushing us to innovate and collaborate with our core purpose of enhancing lives by the pursuit of productivity and safety excellence,” added Michael Gribbons, CEO and Co-Founder of Maestro Digital Mine. “This relationship will open up immediate opportunities to Dwyka Mining Services and Maestro in Africa and extend mobile environmental monitoring to our current installations at over 170 mines in 38 countries globally using our patented edge based IIoT sensor technologies once the solution is fully embedded.”

“We are excited about extracting value from ‘no-go’ and ‘fly low’ mining areas typical at the majority of narrow reef mining operations in Southern Africa where the use of enterprise GPS-denied drones become limited. The Spot Enterprise package allows us to access confined spaces and this information could be used to undertake remote gas inspections so that we can accelerate re-entry to target getting ore to surface sooner without comprising safety,” continued van Schoor.

At Mining Indaba, delegates will be able to see Spot ‘in the metal’ with a Zephyr AQS at booth 908 at Dwyka Mining Services Technology its custom see-through kennel, ready to deploy and dock back onto its charging station ahead of its next mission.

“We are excited to share our new best friend Spot and its amazing capabilities with the delegates of Mining Indaba and the global mining industry. In the spirit of technology collaboration, we have assembled the world’s best mining technologies to be on the stand with us to share and conceptualise end-to-end solutions for maximum impact for our mining clients,” stated van Schoor.

With Spot set to perform a number of ‘tricks’ from the stand, the four-day conference will involve experimentation with a series of partner payloads. These devices that can be attached to Spot, extend the robot’s ability to capture and process data, acting as remote sensing devices this will allow Spot to hear, see and smell in a virtual capacity.

“Spot is an amazing platform with almost unlimited applications. The ability to get live environmental monitoring data ‘on the go’ by extending our remote sensing capability to ‘smell’ for hazardous gas detection from our new robot dog is very exciting,” explained Rethabile Letlala, Operations Director, Dwyka Mining Services.

The adoption of underground mining technology is linked closely with the extent of mine-wide wireless connectivity available up to the working face. Generally referred to as the ‘last-mile’, the underground section from a level access to the blast face, this area is complex to deliver robust wireless coverage. Dwyka Mining Services has delivered a range of successful projects fully deploying WiFi coverage and Spot’s capability to connect over WiFi extends mines opportunity to control Spot from surface for remote gas inspection.

Plexus PowerNetTM delivers a high speed, low latency digital communication network that provides PoE+ power to wireless access points (WAPs), cameras and any other IP based device. The system eliminates the need for costly outside fibre optic contractors and can be installed and maintained by any internal tradesperson. With global success as a last-mile solution to connect mission critical assets, robotic dogs are the next connected device to be connected as we race to the face.

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