Navigating a Drone in a Limestone Mine

Navigating a Drone in a Limestone Mine

It turns out that flying a drone underground isn’t that easy.

You’ve seen drones before: flying at the park, hoovering in your back yard, surveying real estate, for sale at the Discount Club, maybe at your kid’s birthday party. But, every one of those drones – machines that that cost anywhere from $10 through a few thou$and – shares something: they can’t fly stably without GPS signals from earth satellites. Some inexpensive drones do fly indoors, but they’re too small, erratic, and clumsy to carry a meaningful payload. The popular $1K-range consumer drones from Chinese companies fly well enough support a nice camera, but only outdoors — and after they take a few minutes to lock onto satellites with their GPS receivers.

So, what if you want to fly a drone indoors? Like, in a warehouse? Or, at a trade show? Or, underneath a highway bridge that’s dense with girders and steel that interfere with line-of-sight satellite signals?

Or… underground in a cave or mine?

Digital Aerolus is committed to developing the next generation of flying robots: drones and other vehicles that are smart enough to complete useful tasks with minimal input from operators. Today, we use advanced robotics, rugged construction, and our proprietary Folded Geometry Code (FGC)™ OS to build drones capable of flying indoors, underground, and in other challenging spaces.

Here’s why the Aertos 120™ inspection drone excels in a challenging underground environment like a mine:

  • innovative ducted fan propulsion protects spinning blades from contacting cave walls or the operator’s hand
  • rugged carbon fiber frame allows the drone to survive rocky collisions with no damage
  • high-math FGC™ operatng system does not require GPS for stable, predictable indoor and underground flight
  • gimballed camera with powerful illuminator defeats dark environments
  • rapid near-instant deployment allows simple and easy launch & land

In the video below, novice pilot Jenna Squires runs the Aertos 120™ through some of its paces in a limestone mine in Lenexa, KS.

We’re headed back to that mine soon – for a more challenging exploration of the cave. Stand by for more from the DA team!

[& yes, Dave P. I know that drones “hover” instead of “hoover”. Turn your guitar down so you can hear, my friend.]


Drone Show Report – Comm UAV Expo 2018

Drone Show Report – Comm UAV Expo 2018

The DA team invaded the Commercial UAV Expo in Las Vegas this week.

Assorted team members – management, marketing, sales, tech – arrived on Monday 10/1 to quickly organize our presentation before the networking Happy Hour reception started at 5PM. Activities included assembling the show booth and fly tent, & a quick Uber trip to Best Buy to purchase another Samsung flat screen.

We were surprised: our booth happened to be located directly on the path that led into the Happy Hour event. On their way to/from the reception room, lots of Expo attendees stopped to talk to us about the rapid deploy GPS-denied UAVs in the Digital Aerolus booth and fly space.

On Tuesday and again on Wednesday, we spoke with a stream of customers and clients attracted by the noise and lights the Aertos 120™ industrial inspection drone was making inside our indoor test flight tent. Engineer & pilot Chris Aguayo demonstrated the advanced capabilities of the Aertos™ drone, including its ability to survive collisions and to hover stably with the pilot’s hand off the controls.

Customers seemed most interested in these advanced features of the Aertos™:

* Flying indoors without GPS in a space dense with competing radio frequencies
* The drone’s rugged construction allowed it to survive collisions with a hand or an object
* We demonstrated hands-off stability and hovering in a confined space
* We launched from slanted and irregular surfaces
* The AT 120’s protected blades inside ducted fans allowed Chris to safely catch-terminate the flights


The team stayed constantly busy talking to potential clients and customers, industry contacts, partners, and new friends. Industry contacts introduced promising discussions into a variety of markets and use cases, including mining operations, power grids, airport and power plant inspections, as well as proposals to mount special-case cameras or other hardware on our platform.

The show close late Wednesday afternoon was chaotic – many exhibitors were competing for the same scarce resources like rolling carts and access to the FedEx station to arrange to ship equipment home. But overall, Commercial UAV Expo 2018 was a success. Thanks for reading!


Rod Underdown explains the advantages of FGC Flight code to a potential drone customer

CEO Jeff Alholm takes a short booth break to talk with Rod Underdown and Jameson Huckaba.


[Of course, checking the NFL Monday Night Football score of the Kansas City/Denver game was critical – we wanted to know how the undefeated Chiefs were doing! Some us eventually managed to watch part of the end of that game. Go Chiefs!]

We caught part of the Chiefs/Broncos game on the ginormous multi-screen Sports Bar at the Westgate,