(ORDO NEWS) — When mines extract oil or ore from other materials, they often produce a liquid waste known as “tailings”.
These wastes are stored in tailings, which must be constantly monitored, and it is for this purpose that the omnidirectional amphibious robot Helix Neptune was developed.
Manufactured by Canadian robotics company Copperstone Technologies, the battery-powered Neptune doesn’t have wheels or tracks, but instead moves in all directions on four helical pontoons.
Since these pontoons rotate independently of each other, they allow you to move both on dry soil and on mud and water surfaces in tailings.
Although such a screw system is rare, it is certainly not something unprecedented. Over the years, we’ve seen its counterparts applied to everything from land-based yachts to snowboards to rovers exploring Titan.
As Neptune navigates in and through ponds autonomously or by remote control it uses onboard sensors to collect data about the water, such as chemistry and oxygen content, as well as turbidity and salinity.
If it can be determined that enough contaminants have settled to the bottom of the pond (forming silt), some of the remaining water can be reused in the mine.
In addition, the robot measures the depth of the water. This is important information as the water forms a “cap” that covers the toxic sludge underneath.
Needless to say, this cover must be at a predetermined minimum depth so that the sediment does not come into contact with the environment.
Neptune can also collect water/slurry samples both at the surface and at various depths using a powered winch. But can’t an ordinary person cope with such tasks?
Copperstone co-founder Nicholas Olmedo explained that such work is fraught with certain risks and, in addition, the terrain is sometimes so difficult that only a robot can complete the task on time.
However, Neptune has other applications as well. For example, it is equipped with an ice drill, and therefore it can be used to check the thickness of a potentially dangerous icy road on frozen lakes. It could also be used for surveillance or reconnaissance in hard-to-reach places:
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