28 November 2013 Volume :1 Issue :13

New UKZN-Developed Technology to Aid Mining Search and Rescue Missions

New UKZN-Developed Technology to Aid Mining Search and Rescue Missions
The quad rotor unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) developed by UKZN Masters student Mr Sibonelo Motepe for mining search and rescue missions.

MSc student in Mechanical Engineering (Mechatronics) Mr Sibonelo Motepe, under the supervision of Dr Riaan Stopforth, has developed a quad rotor unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for use in search and rescue missions in the mining industry.

Rescue missions in mines often present serious challenges and rescuers cannot always identify the exact location of victims and what the area conditions may be like along the rescue path. Use of the new vehicle will help solve many of these problems.

The UAV is controlled from a remote location over Wi-Fi and relays data to a ground control station. The data relayed includes the video visual of the rescue site. The UAV has human detection capabilities and the results of the detections are also sent to the ground station.

The research was done in conjunction with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) projects aimed at improving mining technology and safety. The CSIR sponsored the project as it was in line with the research the institute is currently undertaking.

Motepe is currently in the corrections phase of his MSc, and will meet with Stopforth once he receives his results to discuss to what extent the CSIR will implement the research discoveries he has made.

Speaking of his future endeavours, Motepe said: ‘I have already started working on a PhD proposal which I plan to register as soon as my corrections are done and results are out for MSc. My PhD focus will be on using artificial intelligence for power system stability. This is mainly a result of my undergraduate studies in Electrical Engineering (heavy current), which I still have a passion for.’


-     Barrington Marais

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