Skip to content

Life-saving AI tech among 21 new Ignites

04 April 2022

A Brisbane company with an AI technology that not only protects the lives of miners but can also carry out mine and major infrastructure inspections much quicker than anything else on the market is one of 21 Queensland firms to share in $2.4 million in Round 8 of the Ignite Ideas support.

Wilston-based Geobotica Pty Ltd has received almost $100,000 in Ignite Ideas funding to help launch their 3D Cognitive Mapping technology into the mining and major infrastructure inspection markets, creating two new jobs in the process.

The technology, which can be mounted on a drone, combines 3D mapping with artificial intelligence to automatically detect and map damage and cracks in real time.

The technology is super-fast, safe and accurate – much quicker than human inspections, which can be dangerous and prone to human error.

Inspectors are often forced into confined spaces, such as underground mines, sewers, pipes and tunnels, to search for cracks, damage and corrosion, as well as abseiling off bridges, buildings, dams, high rises and other infrastructure.

Inspectors typically take photos of issues without any geo-reference and then manually analyse these back at the office, which is laborious and slow. The result is that defects can be missed and it can be difficult to see changes from one inspection to another.

Geobotica CEO Lachlan Campbell said the technology’s 3D feature provided greater richness to inspection processing and recording, and the data collected was automatically saved for benchmarking for future inspections.

“There is currently no similar product on the market. To achieve what this tech can do would require using several products and a lot of time,” Mr Campbell said.

“That gives us a fantastic selling point. The other is that we have been testing the technology with some big players, matching it to their needs and refining its capabilities.

“We recently struck a deal with a global mining corporation, which owns over 200 rail and road bridges that require inspection annually.

“For example, this company was outsourcing the inspection of their longest bridge, a 540m long structure in Brazil to a contract firm.

The firm used a team of six people who spent eight months inspecting every portion of the bridge. The report took a further three months to compile. The total cost was over A$1 million.

“We can do the same inspection at higher quality and with one operator in one week at a fraction of the cost.”

Mr Campbell said the company’s business planning aimed to employ about 20 people and generate $5 million in revenue within two years.

“Our primary market will be mining – a segment exposed to high-risk operations on a daily basis. Our tech can ensure the safety of miners. We will also look to carry out bridge inspections, given our experience in Brazil.

“And of course, as we expand, we will look at the application of the technology in other markets.”

Dr David Noon, CEO of mining tech company GroundProbe, a member of the Orica group of companies, said Geobotica’s tech showed real promise for the underground mining market.

“Geotechnical Engineers perform mine inspections to look for signs of displacement and cracking of rock or concrete. We see this new technology from Geobotica as being a great fit for this niche, especially with the high accuracy of their AI algorithms,” Dr Noon said.

The global underground mining equipment market is projected to reach over US$35 billion by 2029, up from US$24 billion in 2020. 

The global bridge inspection industry is projected to grow to US$6.3 billion by the end of 2029.

Advance Queensland’s Ignite Ideas Fund supports Queensland based small-to-medium businesses with solid growth potential to undertake commercialisation projects, create new jobs and launch onto national and global markets.

The funding helps businesses take their products and services to the next level, tap into new markets and attract new investment.

The program has supported businesses from tourism, agriculture and advanced manufacturing to virtual reality and renewable energy.

The latest round is expected to generate over 100 new jobs in Queensland and includes a marine drone designed to save lives at sea and a robotic system that can pick and pack vegetables and fruit in minutes.

The program has awarded almost $48 million over eight rounds to more than 385 Queensland businesses and is an important part of the Queensland Government’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan.