Australian Technology to Enable Underground Navigation

Photo illus. by Pixabay tunnel

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Drones usually rely on GPS for localization, navigation and flight control. A new technology uses LiDAR data and advanced algorithms on-board in real-time to provide reliable and accurate localization and navigation without the need for GPS.

The innovative scanning unit will enable drones to navigate in underground environments. Australia-based Emesent has achieved autonomy level 2 (AL2) for its Hovermap scanning unit. The unit enables a drone to autonomously fly beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) and in GPS-denied environments and obtain critical data in real-time.

Hovermap is a smart mobile scanning unit that can be handheld or mounted to a drone to provide autonomous mapping in challenging inaccessible areas. Weighing only 1.8kg, it is a mobile LiDAR mapping solution equally capable above ground or underground, indoors or out. The unit acts as a virtual safety bubble around the drone to prevent collisions.

Moving to autonomy level 2 (AL2) means the drone can navigate autonomously through an underground environment like a mine or tunnel and avoid obstacles. The drone creates a real-time 3D map of its surroundings that is sent back to an operator’s tablet for instant and detailed insights into the environment.

According to, as AL2 is only compatible with DJI’s enterprise drones for now, the company has worked closely with DJI to ensure its technology integrates with the drone’s flight controller to provide the best experience possible.

The introduction of autonomy level 2 (AL2) will allow industrial customers Improved safety with the ability to fly beyond visual line of sight — which helps keep workers away from hazardous environments while still the drone collects actionable data. It will also enable enhanced visibility into 3D environments with real-time point clouds delivered directly to the pilot’s tablet, enabling them to interact with and explore the scanned data while operating the aircraft.