3D mine software maker invests in UAV brand

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3D mining software firm Maptek Pty Ltd. said Monday it made a significant investment in startup DroneMetrex Pty Ltd., maker of the TopoDrone-100, an aerial, mapping system that captures digital imagery with an elevation accuracy of 25 millimeters to use as survey data for creating digital terrain models (DTM).

Glenside, South Australia-based Maptek said its undisclosed investment in DroneMetrex, headquartered in nearby Adelaide, allows it to offer customers rapid, repetitive mapping, which is required for open-pit, or open-cut, mining operations. Maptek did not immediately return a request for comment.

The TopoDrone-100 is a small, unmanned aerial system (sUAS) integrating a 24- or 39-megapixel, calibrated RGB or NIR (optional) digital camera with 24 mm focal length, modified for aerial mapping with raw image format, and a proprietary Flight Management System, including a 100Hz dual-frequency GNSS receiver and antenna.

The system contains embedded software in the autopilot firmware that controls a proprietary, gyro-stabilized, active camera gimbal mount near-nadir, crab-free imagery, GPS synchronization, and temperature recording for accurate pixel sensor distortions.

DroneMetrex said the active camera mount uses an algorithm to eliminate the inherent geometric errors of a digital camera on a UAV (tip, tilt, yaw, forward and lateral motion, blur) when capturing the data.

The fixed-wing TopoDrone-100 has a catapult launching system and can fly for about an hour. The UAV system weighs five kilograms, including payloads and airframe. The UAV has several safety options, including a no fly-zone area and geo-fence definition and optional parachute recovery.

Outputs include photomosaics, DTMs and DSMs. DroneMetrex systems will integrate with Maptek’s 3D mine planning Vulcan software system, as well as the Eureka regional mapping system, the company said.

“The DroneMetrex technology will be invaluable for many of our customers and will provide new and efficient ways to manage both large projects and regular spatial measurement challenges,” said Maptek General Manager Peter Johnson. “This rapid data acquisition capability will deliver immediate rewards to the resources industry.”

Maptek also said its I-Site 3D laser scanning system is a “natural complement” to the aerial data captured by the TopoDrone-100.