When mines extract oil or ore from different supplies, they usually generate liquid waste often called tailings. This waste is saved in tailings ponds, which should be repeatedly monitored – and that is the place the omnidirectional, amphibious Helix Neptune robotic is designed to come back in.
Manufactured by Canadian robotics firm Copperstone Applied sciences, the battery-powered Neptune would not have wheels or treads, however as an alternative strikes alongside in all instructions on 4 screw-shaped pontoons. As these pontoons independently rotate, they transfer the robotic throughout dry soil, mud, and the floor of the water in tailings ponds.
Whereas such a screw-drive system is not a typical sight, it is actually additionally not unprecedented. Through the years, we have seen it utilized to every little thing from land-going yachts to hill-climbing snowboards to Titan-exploring rovers.
Because the Neptune travels onto and throughout the ponds – both autonomously or by distant management – it makes use of onboard sensors to collect water knowledge reminiscent of chemical and oxygen content material, together with turbidity and salinity. If it is decided that sufficient of the pollution have settled to the underside of the pond (forming a sludge), a few of the remaining water may very well be reclaimed for reuse within the mine.
Moreover, the robotic measures the depth of the water. This is a crucial piece of knowledge, because the water types a “cap” that covers the poisonous sludge beneath. Evidently, that cap needs to be stored at a given minimal depth, to maintain the sludge out of contact with the encompassing surroundings.
The Neptune also can gather water/sludge samples, each on the floor and at a wide range of depths, utilizing a powered winch … however could not people carry out all these duties?
“In some ponds, it’s doable to ship an individual in a ship. It is an enormous operation, as a result of it’s important to have a backup boat, and there are all these security issues,” Copperstone co-founder Nicolas Olmedo advised us. “When one thing occurs and any individual will get harm, it is not allowed anymore, so that they should search for different options – and that is the place we might are available.”
That stated, the robotic does produce other purposes. Outfitted with an ice drill, as an illustration, it may be used to test the thickness of probably treacherous ice roads on frozen lakes. It may be used to carry out surveillance or reconnaissance in difficult-to-reach areas.
The Neptune was first launched a 12 months in the past, and has since been utilized by numerous purchasers in varied international locations. Copperstone is at the moment providing the expertise in robot-as-a-service type, whereby operators will are available and carry out duties for purchasers, as an alternative of getting them purchase a robotic of their very own.
This Thursday within the metropolis of Montreal, the corporate obtained a Mitacs Excellent Entrepreneur Award in recognition of its robotics system. Mitacs is a government-funded non-profit group, which seeks to foster technical innovation in Canada.
You possibly can see the Helix Neptune in motion, within the video under.
HELIX Neptune Amphibious Robots Screw-propelled automobile