When mines extract oil or ore from different supplies, they usually generate liquid waste referred to as tailings. This waste is saved in tailings ponds, which need to be repeatedly monitored – and that is the place the omnidirectional, amphibious Helix Neptune robotic is designed to return in.

Manufactured by Canadian robotics firm Copperstone Applied sciences, the battery-powered Neptune does not have wheels or treads, however as an alternative strikes alongside in all instructions on 4 screw-shaped pontoons. As these pontoons independently rotate, they transfer the robotic throughout dry soil, mud, and the floor of the water in tailings ponds.

Whereas such a screw-drive system is not a typical sight, it is actually additionally not unprecedented. Through the years, we have seen it utilized to all the things from land-going yachts to hill-climbing snowboards to Titan-exploring rovers.

Because the Neptune travels onto and throughout the ponds – both autonomously or by distant management – it makes use of onboard sensors to collect water knowledge corresponding to chemical and oxygen content material, together with turbidity and salinity. If it is decided that sufficient of the pollution have settled to the underside of the pond (forming a sludge), a few of the remaining water could possibly be reclaimed for reuse within the mine.

The Helix Neptune has a top speed of 9 mph (15 km/h) on land, and 4 knots on the water

The Helix Neptune has a high velocity of 9 mph (15 km/h) on land, and 4 knots on the water

Copperstone Applied sciences

Moreover, the robotic measures the depth of the water. This is a crucial piece of knowledge, because the water kinds a “cap” that covers the poisonous sludge beneath. Evidently, that cap needs to be saved at a given minimal depth, to maintain the sludge out of contact with the encircling surroundings.

The Neptune also can gather water/sludge samples, each on the floor and at quite a lot of depths, utilizing a powered winch … however could not people carry out all these duties?

“In some ponds, it’s doable to ship an individual in a ship. It is an enormous operation, as a result of it’s a must to have a backup boat, and there are all these security issues,” Copperstone co-founder Nicolas Olmedo instructed us. “When one thing occurs and anyone will get damage, it is not allowed anymore, so that they need to search for different options – and that is the place we’d are available in.”

That mentioned, the robotic does produce other functions. Geared up with an ice drill, as an illustration, it may be used to test the thickness of probably treacherous ice roads on frozen lakes. It may be used to carry out surveillance or reconnaissance in difficult-to-reach places.

The Helix Neptune can reportedly run for up to eight hours on one charge of its lithium-polymer battery pack

The Helix Neptune can reportedly run for as much as eight hours on one cost of its lithium-polymer battery pack

Copperstone Applied sciences

The Neptune was first launched a yr in the past, and has since been utilized by numerous purchasers in numerous international locations. Copperstone is at the moment providing the know-how in robot-as-a-service kind, whereby operators will are available in and carry out duties for purchasers, as an alternative of getting them purchase a robotic of their very own.

This Thursday within the metropolis of Montreal, the corporate obtained a Mitacs Excellent Entrepreneur Award in recognition of its robotics system. Mitacs is a government-funded non-profit group, which seeks to foster technical innovation in Canada.

You may see the Helix Neptune in motion, within the video under.

HELIX Neptune Amphibious Robots Screw-propelled car

Sources: Mitacs, Copperstone Applied sciences


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