Sandvik pushes autonomous mining envelope with robotics partnership

Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology has partnered with robotics company Exyn Technology to develop autonomous underground mining solutions that improve the safety of workers.

The two companies plan to create solutions for mapping and visioning for underground mines to prevent the need for operators to enter hazardous, hard-to-reach locations.

“This partnership will open up unique benefits, build on our industry leading automation offering and drive faster decision-making in mining processes to seize new opportunities for improving production performance,” Sandvik president of rock drills & technologies Patrick Murphy said.

The combined capability of Sandvik’s OptiMine and Exyn’s aerial robots will deliver progressive visualisation of the mine’s environment, enhancing the transparency of the mining process.

OptiMine enables optimisation of underground hard rock mining production and processes, integrating all assets and people including non-Sandvik equipment to improve operations.

Exyn is a pioneering developer of autonomous aerial robot systems for complex environments without a GPS signal, enabling flexible deployment of single or multi-robots that can intelligently navigate complex environments in real-time.

“For the first time, customers will be able to map the entirety of their underground operations, even in dangerous GPS-denied environments, while making mining safer and improving productivity,” Exyn co-founder and chief executive Nader Elm said.

“Through this partnership, we hope to empower efficient decision-making for customers and drive towards the vision of fully autonomous mining operations.”

Sandvik and Exyn will research on how to apply and generate 3D views and perceptions of underground spaces autonomously, while leveraging the full potential of Sandvik’s automation system, AutoMine.