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Novosibirsk Residents Have Taught Drones to Explore Quarries

19 January 2021

The startup of the SYGMA.Novosibirsk nanocente has developed a service relevant to Russia’s hard-to-reach regions and extractive industries.

Novosibirsk Residents Have Taught Drones to Explore Quarries

“In 2020, the Optiplane Design Bureau start-up team successfully implemented a new 'drone as a service' service for quarries. Previously, it took a team of mine surveyors a month to measure the volume of a single open-pit mine, and in winter it was completely impossible, but now one mine surveyor and two hours of work are enough for the mine surveying”, SYGMA.Novosibirsk’s press office informed. “This is especially relevant in hard-to-reach areas of Russia: Magadan, Yakutia, Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug, where Optiplane drones had been operating throughout 2020.”

The Optiplane Design Bureau clarified to Infopro54 that the complex included the Optiplane S2 rotorcraft and a smart recognition system.

“The rotorcraft performs an automatic overflight of the quarries and carries out aerial photography. The recognition system automatically processes the survey material and calculates the volume of the quarry. There is no need to keep or call in professional pilots for the quarry, the complex will do everything on its own,” Kirill Yakovchenko, Development Director and Co-Founder of the Optiplane project, explained to the editorial board.

The complex is also suitable for tasks in the fields of surveying and energy, agriculture, and security. The Optiplane S2 is already being used in a variety of industries.

“Their direction of application depends mainly on the payload, and we are prepared to integrate almost any payload. For full automation, all that is needed is the integration of smart data processing software based on machine recognition,” Yakovchenko comments. “For the energy sector, for example, it is the automatic detection of defects on power lines, calculating the sag and deflection of poles, for security, it is the detection of intruders, and for agriculture—the regular monitoring of fertilizer application results.”

He specified that many foreign mining companies were at that moment relying on technology solutions that would enable faster, better, and cheaper data collection and analysis. Solutions were emerging, including those based on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

“All these solutions use two types of aircraft: drones and copters. These types of drones are not optimal for use in quarries. The copters are maneuverable, they can take off, fly around, and land fully automatically, but they do not have enough range to capture the quarry even in a few flights,” Kirill Yakovchenko says. “Aircraft, on the other hand, although they have a good range, cannot be used automatically in quarry conditions: they are not maneuverable and require qualified pilots to launch.”

The complex, developed by the Novosibirsk Optiplane Design Bureau startup, will cost from RUB 2 mln, with rent starting from RUB 40,000 per month. The company says it can be used in quarries all over the world. The developers plan to take their solution overseas in the coming months.

“We are now actively working towards scaling up production. We are partnering with experienced UAV component manufacturers, including foreign factories. Increasing production capacity is one of our main objectives for the coming year,” the Optiplane Design Bureau Development Director says.

According to a report by Ernst & Young Global Limited, in Russia alone, the potential impact of drones in the mining sector is $180 mln per year. Globally, the figure is tens of times higher. After all, 75% of the entire market for investment in UAV-related projects is held by the USA and China.

Source:, 19.01.2021


The SYGMA.Novosibirsk nanotechnology center is one of 15 nanocenters of the Fund for Infrastructure and Educational Programs, a resident of the Technopark of the Novosibirsk Academpark Academic City.

The nanocenter creates serial tech companies from idea to sale of a ready-made business. The task of the nanocenter is to create as many viable technology companies as possible in the shortest possible time, and then sell them to industry participants.

As of the end of 2017, 75+ startups in 9 technological fields were developing in the Novosibirsk nanocenter: unmanned aerial vehicles, fiber optic systems, new energy, biotechnology, modified ceramics and metals, agricultural technologies, 3d printing, functional coatings, specialized chemistry, and the Internet of Things.

Boris Galkin is Director General of the SYGMA.Novosibirsk nanocenter.

The Novosibirsk nanocenter ranked third in the III National Rating of Technoparks in Russia in 2017, which provided a rating of the effectiveness of platforms for the development of high-tech companies. 

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