May 17, 2020

Penguin ASI Takes Mining Automation to the Next Level

Penguin Automation Systems
underground mining
Greg Baiden
5 min
Penguin ASI Takes Mining Automation to the Next Level
Penguin Automated Systems Inc. is a leading research, development and prototyping company in the field of robotic & Automation solutions. The Compan...

Penguin Automated Systems Inc. is a leading research, development and prototyping company in the field of robotic & Automation solutions. The Company specializes in full service telecommunication enabling the transmission of video, data and voice for control of single or multiple robots and equipment in underground, underwater and space solutions.

First initiated in 2001, Penguin ASI offers a wide range of options in the mining, construction and exploration industries, providing wireless optical networking to underground GPS systems and inertial navigation for positioning. Penguin ASI uses a comprehensive approach to software development, systems integration and field testing to ensure leading edge technologies are supplied to manage all of their client’s needs. By applying existing technology and inventing new ones, Penguin ASI is able to enable the creation of innovative solutions for challenging projects, allowing the Company to be a leading force in the Telerobotics field.

“Most people have shied away or given up from working in the world of teleoperation robots because there wasn’t enough capacity in our communications systems,” explains Dr. Greg Baiden, Chairman and CTO of Penguin Automated Systems Inc. “What we’ve done is worked on solving the problem.”

Robotic implementation

What makes Penguin so unique is the fact their remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) are completely wireless. Typical ROVs require umbilical cords to transmit information between the operator and the vehicle, which poses several problems including limiting the excursion distance of the vehicle and can often lead to entanglement. These factors can restrict the range of movement which is imperative to accomplishing the tasks at hand for exploration, construction and mining. Penguin’s technology does away with the need for cables.

To figure out how to create the perfect mining robots, Dr. Baiden and his team looked at several automobile manufacturing plants around the world and used these manufacturing plants to gain an understanding of how they could design a better ROV.

 “We went to all these manufacturing plants and noticed all of them used really advanced computer networks and advanced computing systems,” says Baiden. “The position systems in these assembly lines were done with such precision in terms of surveying because the robots had to move precisely where the car or the piece of car was going to be.”

The Company works at enhancing the technologies that are the core technologies to making robotic mining a reality around the world. They work on advanced computer networks, far more advanced than most businesses and provide these types of networks to their clients. They work on positioning systems because positioning systems that work inside of rock were nonexistent before they began. They also work on software systems that were designed for mining or manufacturing and have modified them to have those systems work together for mining. Unlike companies that have tried to do piece of Telemining, no one has taken the view of trying to accomplish the mine. That’s where Penguin differs from ordinary companies and has become the innovators for the mining industry.


Penguin ASI utilizes and develops advanced technologies derived from the Mining Automation Program (MAP). These technologies were designed to create and implement Telemining Systems based on Baiden’s vision for the future of applying robotics with the human touch. However, these technologies are not just for mining.

“These robots have implications not just in mining but civil construction, search and rescue and other things,” says Baiden. “We’ve done mining work in Chile as well as search and rescue work in Canada. We’re constantly doing stuff with this technology outside of just mining.”

The Company’s operations take place at their Penguin Research Centre (PRC) in Naughton, Ontario. Here the Company offers numerous in-house capabilities for prototyping, research, training and constructing. PRC provides custom electronics and manufacturing labs, custom mechanical and construction design centre, along with a composite construction and real time software facility. Their impressive product list has the capacity to provide fully customized precision based models to all of their clients. In addition to engineering functions for the mine of the future, the Company also has their custom research and development side of the business, which allows them to do custom R&D for mining clients, using their foundation technologies.

Future plans

Penguin ASI is constantly striving to enhance the way our world works. They do this by providing solutions to complex and hazardous tasks in various industries such as mining, underwater work and sewer systems. The Company’s groundbreaking technology replaces the existing technologies of today and enables teleoperations for these activities. By applying specialty communications, software and robotic machines, unique electronics, teleautonomy and mobile mechatronics, Penguin ASI is able to achieve results to make for a safer, more productive future, now.

Along with ROVs, the Company is working to create a system that would allow to do underground mapping and reconnaissance in real-time.

“The machines we’ve built are like the Google Car,” explains Baiden. “To survey an underground mine, we can drive a robot in the mine driving at one or two kilometers an hour, collecting massive amounts of information per second. We can reconstruct these tunnels and the inside of building where GPS doesn’t work, and do so with tremendous accuracy.”

The future looks bright for Penguin as the Company is ultimately working on productizing their technologies for the marketplace. As problem solvers for the mining industry, Penguin is helping companies formulate a plan to help solve problems many thought were impossible.

According to Baiden, “We’re turning what problems we’ve solved into products. Our plan for the future is to take this information and technology and be able to market it, diagnose client’s problems and then solve them. “

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Jun 30, 2021

Rio Tinto and Alcoa begin construction with ELYSIS tech

Rio Tinto
3 min
Rio Tinto and Alcoa’s JV project ELYSIS has the potential to transform the aluminium industry, with a significant reduction in its carbon footprint

Eliminating all direct greenhouse gases from aluminium smelting has taken a major step forward with the start of construction on the first commercial-scale prototype cells of ELYSIS’ inert anode technology, at Rio Tinto’s Alma smelter in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Quebec.

ELYSIS has the potential to reduce the carbon footprint of aluminium production

ELYSIS is a joint venture company led by Rio Tinto and Alcoa that is developing a new breakthrough technology, known as inert anode, that eliminates all direct greenhouse gases (GHGs) from the traditional smelting process and instead produces oxygen.

The technology has the potential to transform the aluminium industry, with a significant reduction in its carbon footprint.

The inert anode prototype cells will operate on a commercial scale typical for large modern aluminium smelters, using an electrical current of 450 kiloamperes (kA).

The Honourable Francois-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry joined representatives from ELYSIS, Rio Tinto and Alcoa to mark the start of construction and announce a further CAD $20mn financial contribution from the Government of Canada to support the project.

The federal government's financial support will enable the creation of a unique commercial size inert anode technology showroom for future customers and will help develop the supply chain by involving local and regional equipment manufacturers and suppliers in the project.

ELYSIS is working to complete the technology demonstration by 2024 followed by the commercialization activities.

ELYSIS technology at a glance:

  • The ELYSIS technology addresses the global trend towards producing low carbon footprint products, from mobile phones to cars, planes and building materials.
  • The new process will reduce operating costs ofaluminiumsmelters while increasing production capacity. It could be used in both new and existing aluminium smelters.
  • In Canada alone, the ELYSIS technology has the potential to reduce GHG emissions by 7 million tons, the equivalent of removing 1.8 million cars from the roads.
  • ELYSIS will also sell next-generation anode and cathode materials, which will last more than 30 times longer than traditional components.

Alcoa and Rio Tinto will continue to support the ELYSIS development program alongside the Governments of Canada and Quebec.

ELYSIS is working closely with Alcoa's Technical Center, where the zero-carbon smelting technology was invented, and the Rio Tinto technology design team in France.

Alcoa's Technical Center supports ELYSIS in the manufacture of proprietary materials for the new anodes and cathodes that are essential to the ELYSIS process. The Rio Tinto technology team in France is creating commercial scale designs for the ELYSIS technology.


Vincent Christ, CEO, ELYSIS commented: “This is a great day for ELYSIS. It means that we are becoming the first technology company in the world to build commercial-size inert anode cells. While we refine the technology in our R&D Centre, we start the construction of our prototype cells. This shows our confidence in our process and in the know-how of our team. The combination of ELYSIS' zero CO2 technology and Quebec's renewable energy will be great competitive advantage for the future. I would like to thank the government for its support and all the partners for their commitment.”

Samir Cairae, Rio Tinto Aluminium managing director Atlantic Operations and ELYSIS board member added: “Today marks a real step towards the future of the aluminium industry, by progressing this breakthrough technology to cut carbon emissions. Rio Tinto is committed to supporting its ongoing development here in Quebec where we already use clean hydropower to deliver some of the world’s lowest carbon aluminium. Combining this technology with renewable hydropower holds the promise of zero carbon aluminium smelting.”

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