Bill Gates-funded startup to develop robot geologists

The machines will be AI powered.
Loukia Papadopoulos
A geologist's tools.jpg
A geologist's tools.


Calgary-based mining tech startup GeologicAI has secured $20 million in Series A funding from Bill Gates’s Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV) to build AI-powered robot geologists.

This is according to a report by BetaKit published Tuesday.

“GeologicAI has spent the last few years proving out its technology across a variety of mineral types and geologic environments, with both junior and major mining companies, and throughout the exploration, development, and operating segments of the mining ecosystem,” GeologicAI chief strategy Yannai Segal told BetaKit

“We’ve now demonstrated success with many customers and are ready to bring this much-needed technology to mining companies across the world.”

GeologicA was founded in 2013 to offer “rock analytics for modern mining.” The startup’s goals are to streamline the manual data-entry-heavy core logging process.

“We believe that improved geological understanding is the point of maximum benefit for a more efficient, environmental, and economical mining industry, and that multi-sensor machine vision is the best way to better understand rocks,” Segal said.

GeologicAI has the power to analyze rock samples and identify resources below the Earth’s surface. 

The Bill gates-backed funding comes at an ideal time as the world is soon set to struggle with a significant mineral supply shortage due to a growing demand for clean energy technologies.

“Without sufficient quantities of key minerals like copper, nickel, cobalt, and lithium, the transition to a clean energy economy simply cannot happen,” Carmichael Roberts, co-lead of BEV’s investment committee, said in a statement. Roberts added that he believed GeologicAI’s tech has the potential to “significantly accelerate key mineral discovery and recovery.”

Segal further noted to BetaKit that the new funding “confirms GeologicAI’s cleantech bona fides,” as well as the role the startup could take “to help supply the world with the mined battery and base metals and minerals desperately needed to enable the clean energy transition.”

For that to happen, the firm’s robots will have to help in the mining of both lithium and cobalt as well as other minerals. 

It has been estimated that by 2030, even if all existing lithium mines continue at their normal rate of production, there still will be barely enough metal to satisfy half of the global demand. Meanwhile, according to estimates of researchers based on mining and projected demand data, cobalt supply won’t be able to keep up with demand by 2030, even if we recycle the used cobalt.