The UNEXUP project (2020-2022), funded by EIT RawMaterials, is a continuation of the Horizon 2020 UNEXMIN project (2016-2019). In UNEXMIN a robotic platform to conduct geoscientific surveys in underground flooded mines was developed and tested in the field. In UNEXUP the key objective is to transform this technology into a commercial exploration service, while further developing the technology involved in the robotic system.
The first step of the project will be to build an upscaling version of the current robot – UX-1 – developed within UNEXMIN, addressing the pre-identified limitations and tailoring the navigation and geoscientific instrumentation according to the potential customers’ needs. Future customers are mining companies, geological surveys, mine owners and other industries that would benefit from the technology. The current version of UX-1 is already capable of conducting complex surveys, gathering geoscientific data that allow geoscientists to build, for example, geological and structural maps of flooded environments, cross-sections of shafts, detection of ores with natural radiation, determination of physical and chemical parameters of the waters, as well as automatic detection of some minerals (i.e. calcite).
In addition to the UX-1 upscaling unit, another robot will be added to the platform in the second year of the project – 2022. It will be a heavier vehicle, capable of navigating at greater depths, with geoscientific payload and sampling instruments that will be able to produce high-quality data from currently inaccessible mine sites with minimum environmental impacts – as a non-contact survey method – or human risks.