Terrestrial Demonstrator

Field Trials Moroccoo 2018
FieldTrials Moroccoo 2018

The Guidelines also request a full case study focusing on a terrestrial scenario of particular pertinence in which the technologies developed & matured in for the Space exploration demonstrator can be exploited and spun-in to terrestrial robotics applications. CoRob-X goes well beyond this requirement by developing a full-blown demonstrator for a terrestrial use-case in the mining industry. In this use-case, a wheeled rover (REU-4) will cooperate with an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) (REU-5) to assess the status of a mine shaft after a blast.

This is a frequent task (explosives are used on a daily basis to dig mine shafts) that poses a significant risk to human workers, due to poisonous gases, unstable walls, and unexploded ordinance hidden under debris. The selected use-case is of high relevance for the mining industry. However, the dual-robot CoRob-X ADRES demonstrated here can also be used in a number of other terrestrial applications, including search and rescue (SAR), inspection & maintenance, or agricultural robotics.

Terrestrial Exploitation Plan

As one representative for a number of possible spin-out use-cases to terrestrial applications, a scenario set in the mining industry will be evaluated. Safe operations and reduction of numbers of accidents, especially with human casualties is an important goal for the mining industry. Mining is increasingly migrating underground as surface deposits are exhausted. The underground environment is challenging due to high rock stress, high temperatures, poor communications with the surface, restricted access and lack of satellite positioning systems.

Terrestrial Exploitation Demonstrator

Since the requirements for hardware in terrestrial mining are very different from the requirements for planetary exploration (among others, neither the mass nor the size of the robots are critical parameters), the field tests are focussed on the validation of CoRob-X software modules. The robotic hardware will comprise a four-wheeled rover as the mother rover, and an UAV as the scout robot (both provided by GMV).

For the terrestrial rover platform, GMV will rely on its Foxizirc Rover. The Foxizirc rover is currently being upgraded for a use case aimed to decommissioning in nuclear facilities in the frame of the ADE Project (OG10). The scout UAV will be based on the Tarot 680 Pro platform, already available at GMV robotics lab. It is a hexacopter with an approximate payload of 2.5 kg and retractable landing gear. The system will be tested at the Santa Barbara’s Foundation facilities located in Leon (Spain).

The demonstration scenario will address the inspection of a mining tunnel after the use of explosives. This is a very common and frequent task (blasts are performed daily in mining operations) and involves inspection of the tunnel for structural safety and unexploded explosives. For mining companies, it is very relevant to be able to achieve this task without putting human crews in danger.

The CoRob-X mother rover will traverse the mine tunnel to the point in which obstacles are detected that prevent its further progress. From that point on, the UAV starts its flight into the blast area, building a local DEM using its on-board sensors. The CRE-X module developed in CoRob-X will be used in both REUs (rover and UAV). Both systems profit from each other: the mother rover enables the team to get into the mine safely up to the point affected by the blast, without need for human intervention. The UAV scout can explore the blast area safely and efficiently.

The TRL for the terrestrial demonstrator at system level will be 8. The demonstrator HWwill be tested with the same HW and the same SW used in a product version, and will be tested under realistic conditions (we plan to perform a real blast, in a real tunnel of a real mine). This demonstrator will show the maturity of the PERASPERA technology applied to the terrestrial field.

In mining, as well as in other fields, the CoRob-X ADRES can also be used in other applications, such as search and rescue or terrain characterization.