Using Kromek detectors to develop flying radiation drones
The initial idea for aerial mapping of radioactive sites came after the radiation leaks at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant power plant in Japan following the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on 11 March 2011. A team at Bristol University Interface Analysis Centre saw that the initial radioactive measurements of the area around the disaster were taken by hand, which put the people doing the work in harm’s way.
The Bristol team led then began to investigate if a flying drone could be used to examine an area for radioactivity.
There are many benefits of using a drone to map the radiation levels of an area:
- it keeps humans out of the way of the radiation and other dangers;
- a drone can be deployed very quickly in times of crisis;
- it does not need a radiation specialist to operate as the analysis can be done off-site;
- the size of the drone allows it to be deployed where space is an issue, for example, it can be flown into a structure;
- it is cheaper to fly than an aircraft, and it is very flexible in the way it can be used;
- the drone can be programmed to repeat a search pattern allowing measurements to be built up over time and compared to previous readings;
- it also opens the possibility of using detectors on autonomous drones to automatically patrol a location.