A real-time analysis of rock fragmentation using UAV technology

07/14/2016 ∙ by Thomas Bamford, et al. ∙ 0

Accurate measurement of blast-induced rock fragmentation is of great importance for many mining operations. The post-blast rock size distribution can significantly influence the efficiency of all the downstream mining and comminution processes. Image analysis methods are one of the most common methods used to measure rock fragment size distribution in mines regardless of criticism for lack of accuracy to measure fine particles and other perceived deficiencies. The current practice of collecting rock fragmentation data for image analysis is highly manual and provides data with low temporal and spatial resolution. Using UAVs for collecting images of rock fragments can not only improve the quality of the image data but also automate the data collection process. Ultimately, real-time acquisition of high temporal- and spatial-resolution data based on UAV technology will provide a broad range of opportunities for both improving blast design without interrupting the production process and reducing the cost of the human operator. This paper presents the results of a series of laboratory-scale rock fragment measurements using a quadrotor UAV equipped with a camera. The goal of this work is to highlight the benefits of aerial fragmentation analysis in terms of both prediction accuracy and time effort. A pile of rock fragments with different fragment sizes was placed in a lab that is equipped with a motion capture camera system for precise UAV localization and control. Such an environment presents optimal conditions for UAV flight and thus, is well-suited for conducting proof-of-concept experiments before testing them in large-scale field experiments. The pile was photographed by a camera attached to the UAV, and the particle size distribution curves were generated in almost real-time. The pile was also manually photographed and the results of the manual method were compared to the UAV method.

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