The deployment involved the autonomous operation, exploration and mapping of underground mine drifts and headings using two aerial robots. The first robot based its operation on the fusion of visible-light and thermal camera data alongside IMU cues, while the second robot employed LiDAR as a prime sensing modality.
Both robotic systems demonstrated the ability to operate in the challenging underground environment. In addition, we evaluated the ability of a comprehensive LiDAR, visual- and thermal-inertial sensor system to provide persistent localization when ferried onboard a truck navigating across the mine drifts.
Such field deployments inside underground mines allow the specific analysis regarding the required improvements and technological breakthroughts towards fully autonomous and long-term subterranean robots. It is expected that, among others, these robots will be able to greatly support the needs and goals of the mining industry.