Inside Unmanned Systems

AUG-SEP 2018

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

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AIR HAZARD TRACKING 54   August/September 2018 unmanned systems inside "There are so many different levels of con- taminant and strength of contaminant," she said. "You have to decide what levels you want to detect and how fast or slow you want to f ly." Then there's navigation, Johnson said. It's difficult to f ly drones through indoor, GPS- denied environments. Not only that, certain areas of the turbine building are sensitive to radio interference, Cinson said. UAS need to be designed to eliminate the risk of tripping the plant off line. To ensure personnel f lying the UAS and other employees are safe, there also must be ways to keep the UAS clean and free of contamination. "One of the worst scenarios would be if a UAV is rendered inoperable during a mission and cannot be easily retrieved," Cinson said. "Tethered operation could provide a solution, but then access limitations come into play. Considerations must also be given to contami- nation prevention of the UAV." Not all the challenges are technical. Before drones can become common tools used in nu- clear facilities, workers must not only accept the technology, but learn how to use it, said Matt Torma, business development manager for Charlotte UAV. Training is key to ensuring UAS can safely and effectively gather the nec- essary data. That means establishing compre- RADKNIGHT DUKE This medium lift drone can carry various radiation detection payloads. hensive drone programs in these facilities and having enough Part 107 pilots to complete the required missions. "The UAS industry is still technically in its infancy and it seems like there's something new to be added every week," Donaldson said. "We're finding a lot of companies have not instituted a proper UAV program or proto- cols so our challenge is bringing them up to speed. We're really trying to encourage com- panies to go down that path and establish programs. They'll be much more successful with their purchase, and that ref lects better on everybody." OTHER USES FOR RADIATION DETECTION Detecting radiation and harmful chemicals via drone can be beneficial in other areas, includ- ing Border Patrol and military applications. It also has the potential to detect groundwater contamination near nuclear weapons facilities and coal-burning power plants. Mark Roberson, president of Goldf inch S e n s o r Te c h n o l o g i e s a n d A n a l y t i c s , worked with First Flight Venture Center's Hangar6, an advanced prototy ping facil- ity, to create a 3-D prototype of a custom, lightweight bracket that is designed to in- tegrate the company's radiation detector into the airframe of a small UAS. Equipped w ith the proper sensors, the UA S can be used for environmental monitoring at U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) facilities that once developed nuclear weapons. The DOE recently listed G oldf inch Sensor among companies it intends to negotiate a con- tract for reward through the Small Business Innovation Resea rch (SBIR) a nd Sma ll Business Technology Transfer (STTR). Through the project, which is still in its very early stages, Roberson plans to develop a drone sensor to monitor low level, back- ground radiation, he said. While the radia- tion levels present at these sites won't lead to immediate damage, even small levels could RADIION DETECTION Photo courtesy of Charlotte UAV.

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