Wood pilots Delair drone for its US mining projects

With the intent to implement unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) into its site planning and asset management work in the western US, consulting firm Wood has brought into its fold the Delair UX11 high-performance drone
Wood pilots Delair drone for its US mining projects Wood pilots Delair drone for its US mining projects Wood pilots Delair drone for its US mining projects Wood pilots Delair drone for its US mining projects Wood pilots Delair drone for its US mining projects

The high-performance Delair UX11 drone will collect data and assist in site planning for Wood

Wood will be using the UAV in its mining and quarry projects in the region, and will initially deploy the drone for high-accuracy work, including 3-D topographical surveys and materials quantification for mineral mines in Wyoming and Idaho.

It is the first fixed-wing UAV Wood has deployed in the western US.

Wood technical services manager Greg Meinecke said its adoption of the unit from Delair, through its regional reseller Frontier Precision, was the logical choice given the scale of its projects and the accuracy needed for them.

"Its long-range capabilities allow us to cover areas not feasible with other data collection methods, like hover craft drones or by foot, so it reduces the cost and time involved," he noted.

"It integrates well with our existing workflows, and features such as the PPK [post-processed kinematic] function deliver additional benefits in terms of the precision and flexibility required in challenging environments."

Meinecke said Wood is already seeing results from the drone's use and has gotten good support from Frontier Precision and Delair along the way. The company is deploying it in remote areas of a 200-acre (80.1ha) phosphate mining project where its heavy civils team is currently performing extensive excavation and site preparation.

"Of critical importance for operations is an ability to precisely quantify the volume of materials being removed to ensure a high degree of accuracy in planning and invoicing," Meinecke added.

"We are able to get surveys covering large tracts of land done in a very short amount of time, so it ends up being much more cost effective for us and the client…[and] we can provide the mine owners a great deal of confidence in the accuracy of the work…and the quantities of resources involved."

Several pilots specialising in different types of projects were trained on the use of the Delair UAV, and using those pilots Wood intends to deploy the drone on other infrastructure, mining and construction projects across the US.

The Delair UX11 UAV was introduced commercially in 2018 and, according to Delair, is one of its top-of-the-line drones.

"The fixed-wing drone is an innovative hardware-software platform that provides highly accurate images for survey-grade mapping, with on-board processing capabilities and real-time, long-range control via 3G/4G cellular networks or radio links," its officials said.

"The platform's enhanced centimetre-level precision along with its efficient operational characteristics make it the most cost-effective solution for large area surveying and mapping."