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Follow-up consortium e-meeting

Since the second week of March 2020, when travel and social restrictions started to be implemented in Europe due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the UNEXUP consortium has carried on the work and follow-up meetings online.

Last week, on 5 June 2020, the project partners had an e-meeting to discuss past, current, and upcoming activities of the project. The main topics covered the workflow despite the ongoing restrictions, the development of the new UX-1 robot, pilot tests, future events, as well as management-related subjects.

Fortunately, the supply chain situation for the new UX-1 robot is optimistic, as commercial activities are progressively returning to normal in Europe. Therefore, the initial plan of delivering the robot in the second semester is a reality for the consortium. Based on that, the UNEXUP partners discussed the potential test sites for 2020, in order to test the new robots’ capabilities under real-life, industrial, conditions. For that, the “CALL FOR PILOTS!” campaign has started:

Contact us if you have a challenging case study where we can demonstrate the capabilities of our robot!

In addition, overall management activities were discussed, regarding deadlines, future online events, as well as the next progress meeting date. Stay updated on our website and social media channels and learn more about UNEXUP past and upcoming steps!

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New website!

Ever since the beginning of UNEXUP – in January 2020 – the main source of information about the project was the UNEXUP web page within the Horizon 2020 UNEXMIN website, the “predecessor” of UNEXUP – funded by EIT RawMaterials. This web page and its sub-pages were created with the purpose of raising awareness about the upscaling relationship between the projects, and to cover specific information regarding UNEXUP details.

This is how the UNEXUP information used to be displayed within the UNEXMIN website:

Now UNEXUP has taken a further step, and it has developed its own website (https://unexup.eu/). This web address is the current main source of information about the project, and it covers everything that used to be present in the predecessor’s website, with additional information and new functions for the visitors to have a positive experience when navigating. It has a simple menu, with pages and sub-pages organized by correlated subjects, and a footer with additional topics about the project, such as the social media icons, twitter feed and EIT RawMaterials funding information.

Visitors are welcome to learn about the project by browsing through the pages, downloading dissemination material, reading the “News” section, understanding the developments in the UX robotic platform, watching videos of the pilot tests (whenever ready), and more.

In addition, visitors are able to get in contact with the project representatives by filling the simple contact form under the CONTACT US page. The UNEXUP consortium is looking forward to keeping in touch with you!

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UNEXUP at EGU2020: Sharing Geoscience Online

From 4 to 8 May 2020 the geoscience community had the opportunity to participate in the EGU2020: Sharing Geoscience Online (#shareEGU20). This event was the alternative solution in response to the current COVID-19 lockdown measures, which lead to the cancellation of many events and, among these, the EGU General Assembly 2020, usually held in Vienna, Austria.

On 8th of May 2020 the UNEXUP project was introduced in the EGU Online chat, under the session “ERE5.4: State-of-the-art in mineral exploration”. This session aimed to bring together geoscientists involved in mineral exploration for the 21st Century. The projects presented in this section covered various topics, such as new methods of exploration; imaging; conceptual modelling and quantification of deposits and mineral systems; cost reduction in exploration; non-invasive exploration; integration of multidisciplinary methodologies and datasets; scale-up and replicability; industry-academia synergies and FAIR data repositories.

After uploading the abstract and the presentation on the platform in advance, the presenters had seven minutes to make a brief introduction of the project in an online live chat, followed by questions and discussions between the participants of the chat.

The UNEXUP project raised interest from individuals who wanted to learn more about the current technology involved in UX-1. Questions about the geophysical methods, multispectral imaging, as well as the navigational system demonstrate that the UNEXUP technology can be an innovative and game-changing solution for sustainable mining in the future.

The “ERE5.4: State-of-the-art in mineral exploration” session counted with 16 presentations, and a total of 66 active participants in the online chat. The UNEXUP presentation and abstract are going to be available until the 31st of May, therefore interested individuals are still very welcome to write comments, ask questions, and learn more about the project.

 

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UNEXUP e-meeting on “risk mitigation measures”

On April 22nd the UNEXUP consortium had an e-meeting in order to discuss the current situation of the project’s activities, mainly regarding the risk mitigation measures due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing and travel restrictions made the UNEXUP partners think about alternatives and adjustments in the workplan for the time being.

Two distinct scenarios were considered, in terms of quarantine restrictions: mild and severe. The consortium developed different strategies for both situations, in order to maintain the line of work based on the pre-established timeline. The strategies were focused on the main milestones to be reached by the UNEXUP team this year.

The main outputs for 2020 are the upscaling version of UX-1, with improvements in the software, hardware and capabilities of the robotic system; and the first pilot test, in order to test the robot’s performance under real-life conditions. The envisaged pilot test will be the first opportunity to demonstrate how the UNEXUP technology performs, and how it can add value to projects related to underwater surveying/mine mapping.

Because of the COVID-19 situation, the project partners will meet online regularly in order to align the workplan based on the current scenario, and prepare the next steps accordingly.

Stay home, stay safe!

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Technical Requirements of UNEXUP

As described in the “UNEXUP Objectives” page, the consortium aims to make further improvements in the current UX-1 multi-robotic platform, in order to upscale its hardware, software and capabilities. These envisaged improvements come from dialogue and discussions with stakeholders from the predecessor project – UNEXMIN, which enabled the consortium to understand what is expected and needed by the mining companies and other potential clients of the mine mapping/exploration service for flooded environments.

Therefore, the upscaling of UX-1 will be market oriented, and not only addressed to raising scientific interest. This concept is the core difference between the H2020 UNEXMIN project, and the current UNEXUP – funded by EIT RawMaterials. UNEXMIN was a research project whose purpose was to develop and test a multi-robotic system to survey underwater environments; UNEXUP is an upscaling project, with the purpose of bringing commercial interest to the technology, while improving it based on market requirements and expectations from future customers.

The new UX-1, to be developed and tested this year will address the limitations detected in the current robot during UNEXMIN field missions. In addition, software and hardware improvements, such as greater depth capacity, more endurance, replaceable batteries, vehicle positioning and better navigation and geoscientific instruments will enhance the robots’ capabilities to conduct raw materials exploration/mine mapping missions in a safer and more reliable way, under more challenging environments.

In addition, the technology developers of UNEXUP will build an additional robot to be added to the UNEXUP robotic system. This robot is planned to be ready in the second project year – 2021 – and will open new exploration possibilities for the mining community. It will be a heavier vehicle, with greater depth capacity and scientific payload, which will be defined and tested at later stages of the project.

 

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Consortium e-meeting – Technical Requirements and Commercialization plan

On March 24th-26th the UNEXUP consortium had a three-day e-meeting in order to discuss the work plan and timeline of the Work Packages dedicated to the technical requirements (WP1) and the commercialization strategy (WP0). This meeting was supposed to be held in person, in Gran Canaria – Spain, however, it was held via teleconferencing due to the quarantine measures of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first day of the e-meeting (March 24th) was dedicated to business and commercialization plan of the future UNEXUP underwater mine mapping/exploration service. UNEXMIN GeoRobotics Ltd. (UGR) is the partner responsible for this task, and Hilco van Moerkerk (UGR’s Managing Director) presented the work plan on this topic, mentioning our target markets, threats, how to understand the customer’s needs, and how to fulfill these requirements. In addition, Luís Lopes – La Palma Research Centre (LPRC) – presented about the Go-To-Market strategy, mentioning a brief market assessment made during the PDAC 2020 convention this year.

On March 25th, the initial presentations were led by technology developers of UNEXUP: INESC TEC and 4dcoders (RCI). Both teams presented about the work progress regarding the technology requirements and developments in the current UX-1 robotic platform, as well as the future steps regarding the development of an additional robot that will be added to the system at later stages in the project. The additional robot will be able to complete missions that require even higher capabilities regarding navigation, autonomy, self-awareness and geoscientific data production, under even more challenging environments. In addition, Emil Pucko – Geological Survey of Slovenia (GeoZS) – presented the strategic plan for commercialization, business plan and risk assessment, in order to understand the market opportunities, and how the UNEXUP service will be able to succeed in it.

The last day of the e-meeting (March 26th) was dedicated to technical discussions, in order to bridge the market requirements with technical abilities of the UNEXUP technology, as well as discussions about the planning on software and hardware developments during the project’s lifetime, led by Máté Koba and Zoltán Papp Richárd (University of Miskolc – UNIM).

In this second consortium meeting (the first was the UNEXUP kick-off-meeting), the project partners raised valuable discussions and inputs regarding the project’s progress and work plan on the technical and commercialization topics. Now the consortium is more prepared to understand what our potential customers’ needs, what types of markets can be targeted by the UNEXUP technology, and what are the next steps in order to deliver a successful service to the future clients.

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Our first Press Release has been published!

The first Press Release about UNEXUP is ready and available for download. The webpage dedicated to Downloads of different dissemination tools about the project has now the first Press Release, which contains information on UNEXUP’s objectives, background, targets, technological challenges, overall strategy, as well as the contact channels, from which the stakeholders can reach the Project Coordinator – Norbert Zajzon, as well as the Managing Director of the company UNEXMIN GeoRobotics Ltd. – Hilco van Moerkerk, which is the partner in charge of developing the business strategy around the UX1-based technology.

Press Releases will be published on the website – and promoted on social media channels – whenever we reach an important step or milestone over the years of the UNEXUP lifetime. This is an informative tool dedicated to potential customers and investors of the technology, as well as to journalists and professionals of the media from the raw materials and robotics sectors.

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PDAC 2020 outcomes for UNEXUP

The UNEXUP project was represented in the recent PDAC 2020 exhibition in Toronto, Canada. Elements from LPRC and UGR represented the EIT RawMaterials project towards potential customers, in one of the biggest mining-related encounters in the world. During four days, the representants introduced and discussed with potential customers and interested parties of the technology, to raise awareness and commercial interest to the UNEXUP technology.

The feedback gathered was very welcome. Mining companies were especially interested in the services that are provided by the UNEXUP technology, and technology developers were impressed with the technological achievements of the UX-1 based platform. The UNEXUP team now expects to turn the interest gathered during the conference into real case businesses, a goal always stated by the project personnel.

UNEXUP will continue the development and upgrading of its platform’s capabilities, hardware and software. At the same time, the project members – especially UNEXMIN GeoRobotics – will continue to raise commercial awareness and interest to the unique exploration technology for flooded mines and other underwater environments.

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UNEXUP at the European Robotics Forum 2020 – Spain

The UNEXUP was represented at the European Robotics Forum (ERF) 2020, a major annual event with hundreds of attendees every year, which was held in Málaga – Spain, from 3 – 5 March 2020.

This event, organised by euRobotics under SPARC, the Public-Private partnership for Robotics in Europe, is the most influential meeting of the robotics community in Europe. Therefore, it was an opportunity to meet with the stakeholders from the robotics sector, in order to dialogue and promote the UNEXUP project to them.

Retrieved from: https://www.eu-robotics.net/robotics_forum/info/venue2019.html

In this occasion, our partner Claudio Rossi – from Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM) – represented the UNEXUP consortium by engaging with stakeholders and distributing informative leaflets about the project, in order to raise awareness and interest from the robotics community, which is one of our target sectors.

The new raw materials exploration / mine mapping service is based on a new class of mine explorer robots, for non-contact surveying of Europe’s flooded mines. One of the ambitious goals of UNEXUP will be to add a fourth robot to the current multi-robot platform, providing additional functionalities to the exploration system, including better range and depth performance. Hardware and software upgrades, as well as new capabilities delivered by the platform are also envisaged for the current and new UX entries, which will greatly extend the usefulness of the platform in different situations.

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UNEXUP at PDAC 2020 – Canada

The UNEXUP project was represented at the PDAC 2020 convention, held in Toronto, Canada, from March 1st to 4th.

The World’s Premier Mineral Exploration & Mining Convention is the world’s leading event in the mining community, where mining companies, geologists, engineers and organizations related to mining and raw materials exploration can share experiences, learn about innovative projects, discuss about the newest developments in mining processes, as well as the upcoming technologies in the sector.

Luís Lopes (LPRC) and Hilco van Moerkerk (UGR) – members of the UNEXUP consortium – were there in order to engage and interact with stakeholders from the mining community, to better understand the needs and requirements of potential customers of the non-contact mine mapping/raw materials exploration service for flooded environments – which is the key output of the UNEXUP.

Hilco van Moerkerk (managing director of UNEXMIN GeoRobotics Lt.) dialoguing with stakeholders from the mining sector

Attending the PDAC 2020 convention was a valuable opportunity for the project’s representatives to dialogue with the key target audiences, not only from the EU, but worldwide, in order to understand the mining scenario and, therefore, to further improve the UX robotic system’s capabilities and instrumentations accordingly.

As a result, this will provide tools and guidelines to our engineers and data processors to develop an effective and innovative geological service at the end of the project, which will supply the current and future needs of the mining community.

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