The Estonia Mine now employs a robot

In the beginning of this week, a robot, a Multiscope unmanned ground vehicle, joined the team working on the Estonia Mine and will now be used to perform 3D surveying operations in closed underground locations which are difficult to access for people. The vehicle will be used to examine the condition of underground pillars in the area where Eesti Energia is planning to build one of the largest solar power plants of the region.

“Eesti Energia uses smart and innovative solutions to make our production more efficient, to minimise our environmental impact, and prevent occupational safety-related risks. An unmanned vehicle is a good solution for conducting surveys in an area which may be unsafe or prohibited for people to enter,” said Veljo Aleksandrov, Development Project Director at Eesti Energia. “The vehicle has been working successfully – we have obtained the first three-dimensional images and other necessary data which are significant for building a solar power plant on the site of the mine,” added Aleksandrov.

The aim of the surveying is to inspect the condition of the pillars in a room block in which mining ended ten years ago. As the anchor structure used to support the ceiling is removed after the end of mining operations, people are then no longer allowed to enter the area. Eesti Energia is conducting the surveying in cooperation with Engineering Bureau Steiger and the robotics company Milrem Robotics.

“The engineers of Milrem Robotics have been working on robotics solutions designed for the civil market for quite a while. Above all, they are focussing on autonomic movement in complicated environments. Multiscope is a good example of how our technology helps to replace people in hazardous situations in this field as well,” said Kuldar Väärsi, CEO of Milrem Robotics.

The conditions in a closed room block have never before been examined in this manner. Multiscope is equipped with 3D scanners which map the room block three-dimensionally, and with IR cameras which record images of the conditions in the room block. After processing of the voluminous data received from the sensors, a visual 3D image is obtained of the room block which reveals the actual dimensions of the supporting pillars. This, in turn, is an important input for analysing the load-bearing capacity of the pillars.

Eesti Energia is planning to open one of the largest solar power plants in the region in the territory of the Estonia Mine in 2021 which will be generating approximately 3,500 MWh of renewable electricity per year. This amount of electricity will cover the annual electricity demand of more than 1,000 households of average consumption. The solar park will primarily be supplying energy to the Estonia Mine. It is planned to use a by-product of oil shale mining, limestone, to build the base for the solar power plant.



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