October 17, 2019

Drones Go Underground


In a new twist on how drones are being used for the ultimate benefit of society, a North Bay, Ontario, start-up is using drones in underground mines. SafeSight Exploration’s camera- and sensor-equipped drone can move into dangerous areas of tunnels while its pilot remains in a safe area, thus allowing for remote inspection.

Equipped with LiDAR (light detection and ranging) technology, tunnel walls can be remotely mapped in 3D detail with their DB2 model in a shorter time period than had previously been possible. The specially equipped drone does not come cheap, though.

“It’s a little intense, you’re flying $60,000 through a tight space,” said Lucas Tignanelli, product developer for SafeSight. “But I haven’t lost one yet!”

Another model the company is working on is the SafeScout, a smaller and lighter drone that would be deployed in advance of the costlier LiDAR-equipped DB2. SafeSight is also developing a robot that can place and detonate dynamite, again reducing risks to personnel.

SafeSight was founded by Tignanelli’s uncle, Mike Campigotto. Others who have joined the team, many of whom are family members, include a geologist, a robotics expert, a Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) specialist and an operations manager.

Photo courtesy of SafeSight Exploration