Image Credit: Saskatchewan Polytechnic
Image Credit: Saskatchewan Polytechnic

Saskatchewan Polytechnic receives over $1 million for new research projects

Applied Research projects help mining, municipal, infrastructure and agricultural industries use new technology to seize growth opportunities

April 7, 2021 –Saskatchewan Polytechnic has received $1,092,000 for two Digital Integration Centre of Excellence (DICE) applied research projects through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) College and Community Innovation (CCI) program.

“I would like to congratulate our applied research team on these exciting funding announcements,” says Dr. Susan Blum, associate vice-president, Applied Research and Innovation. “These two DICE applied research projects will help small to medium-sized enterprises seize new opportunities to grow and become more competitive. Through applied research partnerships Sask Polytech shares our knowledge and equipment to create useful new products and services.”

"The NSERC funding announcement recognizes the significant expertise at Sask Polytech's Digital Integration Centre of Excellence and the important role it plays in providing digital solutions focused on data to help Canadian mining, municipal, infrastructure, transportation, security and agricultural sectors," says Dr. Larry Rosia, Sask Polytech president and CEO. "Congratulations to the DICE team and thank you to the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada for its generous support."

Sask Polytech’s Autonomous Operation of Equipment in the Mining, Municipal Infrastructure and Agricultural Sectors Project received $440,000 from NSERC’s Applied Research and Technology Partnership (ARTP) option one grant funding. This DICE project will address some of the challenges experienced by mining, municipal, infrastructure and agricultural industries in Canada in relation to autonomous equipment operation. While GPS-derived coordinates for surface assets is commonly used to improve safety and advance automation, tracking the positions of equipment underground has remained elusive. GPS satellites are not accessible to underground mines, tunnels, under bridges or in other GPS denied environments. The DICE applied research project will explore the use of sensor technology to enhance worker safety and keep track of the exact coordinates of underground or remote equipment. The use of sensor technology will enable companies to operate more efficiently by improving safety, process optimization and automation.

“Sask Polytech is currently working on the autonomous operation project, and we are focusing on creating positioning systems that can locate a moving person, place or object in challenging and remote environments,” says Dr. Terry Peckham, Sask Polytech DICE director. “This could include data from standard camera RGB detection, IR depth clouds and ranging (LiDAR) systems to create an accurate network of information that could enhance safety and create efficiencies.”

Sask Polytech’s second project recently funded by NSERC is the Canadian Unmanned and Remote Sensing Innovation Network (CURSIN). Sask Polytech is a partner in this network along with project lead Mohawk College and the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT). Sask Polytech received $652,000 in ARTP option two funding for this project. Remote sensing using remotely piloted aerial systems, rovers and unmanned boats is emerging as a rapid and cost-effective tool for exploring and inspecting critical infrastructure systems in sectors as diverse as energy and utilities, manufacturing, agriculture, transportation and security. Mohawk College, SAIT and Sask Polytech will create a research network to use this technology to monitor critical infrastructure systems across Canada.

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