Drone Based Metal Detector: Proof of concept

As an extension of a drone based Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) project the idea arose if it were possible to have a drone based metal detector.

I thought the idea silly at first but the initial numbers did not rule it out and extensive handheld testing with military grade detectors on real ordnance showed the idea may have some legs after all. If not for minimum metal AP mines, at least for the bigger stuff.

We settled on some standard detection electronics & coil which were customised and integrated with a H500 quadcopter testbed.  The first test flight showed we were definitely able to pick up the detections from relatively small (tennis ball size) metal objects.

Though this proves the core concept it is of course a long way away from being something that can be operationalised (if that makes sense at all), many challenges remain. In any case given the time and budget constraints it has definitely exceeded my expectations and has been a fun project so far,

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  • @Adam: re EMI sensor, indeed. Re GPR, tricky but not impossible ;) Hope to post on that in the near/mid future.

  • I've had a look at GPR, which would be really hard to do from any UAV system.  The system you have onboard now is a frequency domain electromagnetic sensor, which is what's used for all metal detectors.

    Thats a really good idea, lowering the EM transmitter, as I can imagine it could cause all sorts of problems with the autopilot, sensors and electronics.  I assume you'd need to turn off the compass.

  • Gold Hill Resources has filed a,patent for a drone metal detector.
    They are partners with Accurate Locators, a metal detector sales company.
  • I've seen this done with full-size helicopters for mining exploration.

  • T3

    The center stick idea is pretty cool!

  • T3

    Here is a paper I had a hand in. Development of Autonomous Magnetometer Rotorcraft for Wide Area Assessment


  • Ideally yes. Depends fully on the interest. Any ideas, or suggestions just ping me :)

  • @Dirk, any plans to take it to the next stage or even commercialize? 

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