Researchers in the U.K. have created a prototype unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that can safely and accurately assess dangerous nuclear accident sites.
According to the University of Bristol, the Royal Academy of Engineering has awarded James MacFarlane and his university team about $25,000 in funding to move the UAV out of the science lab where it was developed and turn it into reality.
The Advanced Airborne Radiation Monitoring (AARM) system, the university says, integrates a UAV with a gamma spectrometer and other positional sensors. The university notes that the AARM system can provide real-time information on the source, intensity and location of radiation. In addition, the system is lightweight and inexpensive and can capture high-resolution images.
The University of Bristol reports that the AARM system could improve the safety and effectiveness of hazard response operations, including rapid response monitoring of nuclear events. The system also supports routine monitoring at nuclear sites and naturally occurring radioactive materials at mining operations and oil and gas facilities.
Field demonstrations of the prototype have already been performed at a uranium mining site in Banat, southwest Romania, and validated against traditional surveying methods, the university adds.
‘The AARM system has had a great reception within the nuclear industry, which reiterates to us that there is a real need for the capability it provides in the nuclear energy sector,’ comments MacFarlane.
Photo courtesy of the University of Bristol