How Are Drones Saving the Mining Industry Money?

Both pilots and companies are navigating a thin line between security and innovation. Host Grant Guillot talks with leaders, influencers, and experts across the drone industry to guide us through the complex web of technology and policy in the United States.

 

Drones have a host of applications. While the headline grabbers are all about operations in urban cities and delivery, other applications are mature and advanced, like mining, construction, or any sites that need mapping and data capture. To discuss the topic, Drones in America host Grant Guillot welcomed Will Pryor, Manager, Enterprise Solutions, of Skycatch. The company provides aerial data capture automation, processing, visualization and analysis tools.

Pryor has a background in mechanical engineering and designed and built an autonomous Roomba-like drone for Skycatch. Soon the company pivoted to focus on automation and data capture. They were the first company to use high-precision GPS to get survey data. “We have customers across the U.S. in construction and mining. If it’s not farmed, it’s mined, so that demand never goes away,” Pryor said.

Drone capabilities fit nicely with the automated world of modern mining. “We can extract more material with fewer people. We can do it at a greater scale when it’s part of automated mining.”

“With mining and construction, these are closed sites. So, the FAA regulations of working in urban areas don’t really limit our capabilities to collect data.” – Will Pryor

With data collection comes privacy concerns. There is hesitancy by some U.S. businesses to use overseas products because of this, but Pryor hinted that Skycatch will be playing a big role in this.

Pryor’s company mainly focuses on remote usage of drones, so regulatory challenges are less. Still, he remarked at the difference between the U.S. and Australia in that regard. “Regulation leads to technology because regulators are thinking way ahead in Australia. In the U.S., regulation follows innovation.”

While that’s likely to evolve, Pryor noted that the mining industry’s use of technology is much different than one may think. “They’ve been using self-driving trucks for over a decade. There is robotics, and it makes sense because these are often remote areas, and it’s hard to get people in, so drones and robotics are ideal.”

See Previous Episodes of Drones In America Here

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