Explosion-proof scanner a world first

GERMAN engineering and consultancy company DMT is finalising the design of the world's first underground 3D laser scanner that is explosion proof and capable of centimetre accuracy.

Staff Reporter

The Imager 5006EX was developed by the company in conjunction with scanner manufacturers Zoller and Froehlich to meet the needs of the country's biggest coal mining company; Deutsche Steinkohle AG required a scanner capable of being used in the volatile underground environment.

DMT spokesman Norbert Benecke told International Longwall News the underground scanner is in its final design and approval processes and will be available on the international market in 2008 after it gains European safety certification for explosion-proof equipment.

The stand-alone module weighs about 23kg and can have its batteries changed underground, allowing for long survey periods without interruption.

With a 79m ambiguity interval, resolution to 0.1mm and a data acquisition range of 500,000 pixels or less the scanner produces accurate, detailed images and has Bluetooth and WLAN interfaces with wireless operation via PDA.

Benecke said the module will create interest from the underground coal industry because of its time saving applications.

He added that while it is a relatively new survey technology, laser scanning is gaining momentum in the industry because of its ability to achieve a photo-realistic 3D model of any scanned objects within minutes.

He said a 360-degree bubble scan with a vertical scope of 310 degrees and a point cloud of 40 million single points takes just three and a half minutes to complete.

Besides its geological mapping capabilities, the scanner is also able to be used in dangerous areas of the mine to assess and record damage or to check and control mining activities.

Prototypes of the product will be manufactured in the coming months before it is released to the market next year.