Petra, a start-up based in San Francisco, California claims to have invented a completely new way to excavate rock. Its contactless thermal drilling machine can bore through the hardest rock on Earth.
Promising new technology for the mining industry
The semi-autonomous drilling machine is named “Swifty”. Petra says its new robot is cost-effective, reliable, and flexible as compared to existing drilling systems.
Swifty is the first no-contact boring robot
Swifty can tunnel faster and cheaper than conventional methods. The boring machine uses thermal technology. It can drill a range of small tunnels between 20 and 60 inches wide without directly touching any surface, dramatically reducing the costs. However, conventional micro-tunnel boring machines are purpose-built for a single diameter.
The thermal drilling machine blasts gas and heat at almost 1,000°C (1,832°F). This breaks the rock into small pieces, which are then sucked out by a vacuum.
No tunneling machine has been able to tunnel through this kind of hard rocks until now
Petra says that it has drilled 20-feet through Sioux Quartzite. Sioux Quartzite is one of the hardest stones that is usually removed by dynamite.
Sioux Quartzite is placed at 7.5 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. In comparison, the hardest material in the world, diamond, is placed at 10.