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 LOCATION 58 August/September 2018 unmanned systems inside prototype had to stop regularly to take radia- tion measurements, "we can now measure on the f ly," Alexis noted. The researchers aim to use aerial robots to map Plutonium-Uranium Extraction (PUREX) tunnels, where multiple train cars hold nuclear waste. "Our final goal is a system of systems, where multiple robots can access underground environ- ments, map them, and annotate these maps with radiation measurements," Alexis said. "We want multiple-robot capabilities because as long as we deploy single robots, we're sensitive to single points of failure. However, working with multiple robots presents two challenges—how to coordi- nate and plan their activity, and how to share their knowledge so they know not to just map the same spots." Aerial robots are also being used at Sellafield in England, the birthplace of Britain's nuclear in- dustry, Europe's largest nuclear site and the site of its worst nuclear accident. One of Sellafield's reactors caught on fire in 1957, contaminating the surrounding farmland. Hundreds of tons of radioactive material remain at the site. RADI ION CLEANUP RADPIPER ROLLING PPER By measuring radiation from the inside of the pipes Carnegie Mellon's RadPiper can map nuclear waste deposits more precisely. Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Energy and Carnegie Mellon University. The R ISER (Remote Intelligent Sur vey Equipment for Radiation) is the product of a col- laboration between England-based firms Createc in Cockermouth and Blue Bear Systems Research in Bedford. It's a quadcopter that can navigate inside a building without GPS, and is equipped with radiation sensors that enable it to build up 3-D radiation maps. The drone was designed to explore the inside of a tall chimney at Sellafield that was built to ventilate the original reactors there, and which was heavily contaminated dur- ing the 1957 fire when radioactive plumes from the burning reactor core spewed out of it. RISER already has been successfully tested inside the chimney and will find use elsewhere at Sellafield as well. "What's exciting about all this work is how useful to society it is," Alexis said. PIPE CRAWLERS Before obsolete nuclear fuel sites can be decom- missioned and dismantled, contractors first need to inspect miles upon miles of pipe. "We need to understand the amount of uranium there may be in a pipe to remove it and dispose of it safely," said Rodrigo Rimando, director of technology de- velopment for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Environmental Management. The nuclear industry depends on uranium. The element mainly comes in two isotopes—urani- um-238, which makes up about 99.27 percent of natural uranium, and uranium-235, which makes up roughly 0.72 percent. (All isotopes of an element have the same number of protons,

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