When mines extract oil or ore from other materials, they often produce liquid waste known as tailings waste. This waste is stored in waste ponds, which must be constantly monitored – and that’s where the omnidirectional amphibious Helix Neptune robot is designed to come in.
Produced by Canadian robotics company Copperstone Technologies, the battery-powered Neptune has no wheels or tracks but instead moves in all directions on four screw-shaped floats. As these floats spin independently, they move the robot over dry land, mud and water surfaces in waste ponds.
While such a screw drive system is not a common sight, it is certainly not unheard of either. Over the years, we’ve seen it applied to everything from land yachts to hill-climbing snowboards to Titan exploration vehicles.
As Neptune moves to and from ponds – automatically or remotely – it uses onboard sensors to collect water data such as chemical and oxygen content, along with turbidity and turbidity. salty. If it is determined that enough pollutants have settled to the bottom of the pond (slurry formation), some of the remaining water can be recovered for reuse in the mine.
In addition, the robot measures the depth of water. This is important information, as the water forms a “cap” that covers the toxic sludge underneath. Needless to say, that cap must be kept to a certain minimum depth, to keep the slurry from coming into contact with the surroundings.
Neptune can also collect water/mud samples, both at the surface and at various depths, using an electric winch… but can’t humans do all these tasks?
Copperstone co-founder Nicolas Olmedo told us: “In some ponds, it is possible to send one person on board. “When something happens and someone gets hurt, that’s not allowed anymore, so they have to look for other solutions – and that’s where we’re going.”
That said, robots have other uses. For example, equipped with an ice drill, it can be used to check the thickness of potentially hazardous ice trails on frozen lakes. It can also be used to perform surveillance or reconnaissance in hard-to-reach locations.
Neptune was first introduced a year ago, and since then has been used by a number of customers in different countries. Copperstone is currently offering the technology in the form of a robot as a service, in which operators will come and perform tasks Because customers, instead of asking them to buy a robot of their own.
This Thursday in Montreal, the company received the Mitacs Entrepreneur of the Year Award in recognition of its robotic system. Mitacs is a government-funded nonprofit that seeks to promote technical innovation in Canada.
You can see the Helix Neptune in action, in the video below.
HELIX Neptune Amphibious Robot Screw Vehicle
Source: Mitacs, Copperstone Technologies