How Drones Explore the Underworld

Drones in Mining. © TU Bergakademie Freiberg
In February 2018, a four-year project on the use of drones in mining was launched by researchers from TU Bergakademie Freiberg and a number of external partners. The result will be an autonomous robot system for three-dimensional exploration and monitoring of underground caverns, tunnels and canals.

From a mobile platform, a drone carrying highly sensitive cameras and radar systems will be able to launch into and explore underground areas that are difficult to access. Technologies such as e.g. laser scanners, radar devices, 3D measurement technology and optical navigation devices will be used. The Bergakademie scientists have already carried out their first test flights in the "Reiche Zeche" research and training mine in Freiberg. They are currently testing various methods to prevent the drone's propellers from being damaged by collisions with the surrounding rock. A video of the test flight can also be found on YouTube:

"With this research, we are making a contribution to the mining industry of the future. By using modern technologies, we can significantly reduce risks to persons and, at the same time, obtain high-quality data and information in real time. This will also save costs into the future," explained Prof. Bernhard Jung, Professor of Virtual Reality and Multimedia at TU Bergakademie Freiberg.

By the end of 2019, the scientists will develop various carrier and sensor systems, as well as autonomous software. These will then be installed in a prototype planned for 2020. 

The UNDROMEDA project (Underground Robotic System for Monitoring, Evaluation and Detection Applications) is being funded to the tune of 1.5 million euro through the EIT (European Institute of Innovation and Technology) RawMaterials consortium, which brings together 100 partners (mainly from higher education) in more than 20 EU countries. Professor Bernhard Jung (Virtual Reality and Multimedia) and Professor Jörg Benndorf (Mine Surveying and Geodesy) are involved on the side of TU Bergakademie Freiberg.

For further information, please visit:

Contact person: Prof. Bernhard Jung, Tel.: +49 (0)3731-39-3837