Case studies

Applications of robotics in the mining industry

Credit: Bert van Dijk/Getty images.

Powered by

GRSE launches AUV for mine detection


Indian Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) and Aerospace Engineering Private Limited (AEPL) have introduced an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) named Neerakshi. The AUV is designed for versatile functions, including mine detection and disposal, and underwater surveying. 

Nature of disruption:

The Neerakshi AUV is a compact 2.1m long cylinder weighing approximately 45kg. It can operate for up to four hours and can reach depths of up to 300m. It can impact activities like mine countermeasure operations and serve as reusable targets for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) training exercises conducted by naval vessels.

The AUV offers the potential for extended passive acoustic monitoring, where it can remain stationary for extended periods, keeping track of potential movements of underwater platforms. This versatile capability spans functions including detecting and disposing of mines, as well as conducting underwater surveys.

Neerakshi's ability to detect and dispose of mines could assist in areas affected by conflicts or where landmines pose a threat to civilians. The underwater surveying capability could be useful in applications like marine research, underwater exploration, and even environmental monitoring.


Traditional methods of mine detection can be challenging due to risk to human life, inaccuracy, environmental factors, and time-consuming methodologies. The Neerakshi AUV addresses these challenges by offering precise mine detection capabilities.

The AUV's introduction is expected to accelerate India's defence capabilities, especially in the domain of underwater operations. Once user trials are completed and feedback is incorporated, commercial production of the AUV will commence. There are ongoing efforts to enhance the AUV's endurance making it suitable for coastguard duties, either deployed from a mother ship or directly from the coast.

The project reflects India's broader ambitions in defence technology, including the development of autonomous sea surface vehicles, sea-based drones, and green propulsion technologies.

Borterra introduces robotic drill-rod handling to enhance workplace safety


Canadian mining engineering technology company MEDATech’s Borterra drilling division has created a hydraulic, robotic pipe handler called RodBot specifically for loading and unloading drill rods and casing. It is suitable for mining, construction, and the oil and gas industry as it can work on virtually any piece of drilling equipment.

It can be modified to operate on almost any type of drilling equipment. RodBot mounted to a drill rig, pipe truck, or on skid provides computer-assisted controls with integrated collision-avoidance features to support operators.

Nature of disruption:

RodBot uses a finely controlled grapple to pick up or place pipe and casing into the cradle. Once the pipe or casing has been manually directed to or from the mast, the operator can essentially press "repeat," and RodBot will add or remove the rod or casing as necessary.

The robotic pipe handler offers three different control settings: Full Manual, in which the user directs movement at every turn, Tip Control with computer assistance, and Autonomous Control with collision avoidance. It leverages the operator's manual control to manage each moving component of the arm in full manual control. The operator can move the drill pipe in a linear motion by using Tip Control using a computer.

The pipe can move straight out from the base of the arm with a single-axis input on the joystick either vertically or horizontally. RodBot follows a path chosen by the user or is automatically adjusted to the location of the mast at the time in autonomous control mode. It has safe operating zones and unsafe operating zones within arm's reach.

The robot can compute the efficient course by employing collision-avoidance software that is integrated into the robotic operating software including navigating around any designated obstructions. It allows the operator to input a beginning point and an ending point.


Most drilling-related injuries in drilling are caused by handling the rod and casing. A crew of two or three people moves heavy metal cylinders from a rack to the drill head or vice versa to manually insert and withdraw the rod and casing. A bottleneck in the drilling operation is the movement of drill pipe into and out of the mast.

RodBot improves workplace safety and assists in reducing the number of personnel required on a drill rig to just one operator. The company claims RodBot can retrofit most rig configurations thus avoiding the need to wait for drill rig replacement. Borterra boasts that RodBot can eliminate 95% of manual rod handling.

Epiroc rolls out equipment for pass rotary and down-the-hole drilling applications


Swedish mining and infrastructure equipment manufacturer Epiroc has launched the DM30 XC blasthole drill for use in a variety of multi-pass rotary and down-the-hole (DTH) drilling applications. The DM30 XC offers higher rotational torque, increased pulldown, and wider hole range capability with optimal productivity and efficiency.

Nature of disruption:

The DM30 XC weighs about 20,000kg and is designed to handle 101-159mm drill pipe. The robust, crawler-mounted, hydraulic top-head drive drilling rig has a standard carousel and a 9.1m drill pipe replacement. The drill's structural components can withstand the heavy-duty cycles necessary in a mining drill.

The DM30 XC can reach a total clean depth capacity of 45.1m for multi-pass applications and 8.5m for single-pass applications with the addition of a starting rod under the rotary head. The rig with high efficiency and a 1,136L fuel tank can operate continuously for up to 16 hours.

Clients can establish the ideal configuration for their drilling operation by selecting a low- or high-pressure compressor. An electric over-hydraulic cab with a one-piece Falling Object Protective Structure (FOPS) rating offers improved safety, visibility, and operator comfort. The ergonomic control structure maximizes drill time by enabling instant switching from drilling to tramming mode.

The DM30 XC has an electronic air regulation system (EARS) that enables low load starting and simple bailing air adjustment to save fuel usage and horsepower consumption. This helps increase the lifespan of power components and cut the total cost of ownership.


The demand for rotary blast hole drilling rigs is expected to rise as a result of expanding building applications in the global commercial and residential sectors. Also, building expansion in both business and residential areas is anticipated to be fuelled by infrastructure and energy investments. The DM30 XC can handle demanding jobs and claims to provide 33% more power benefits to clients.

Moreover, It increases DM30 XC flexibility with Epiroc's Rig Control System (RCS) Lite which offers various safety and productivity advantages. Additionally, it offers an easy base for future technology and feature additions without having to completely rebuild the machine.

GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Thematic Intelligence uses proprietary data, research, and analysis to provide a forward-looking perspective on the key themes that will shape the future of the world’s largest industries and the organisations within them.