Inside Unmanned Systems

FEB-MAR 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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ENGINEERING. PRACTICE. POLICY. 55 February/March 2018 unmanned systems inside EPRI's Research EPRI has two groups working on find- ing ways drones can be incorporated into nuclear facilities; one focuses on outside areas while the other is concen- trating on deploying drones indoors, Lindberg said. They're also working with research partners to find ways to modify existing commercial drones to fit the industry's specific needs. So far, they've investigated f lying drones to inspect containment structures, which is typically done manually via scaffolding or repelling down the side of the structure. The team completed a trial inspection of a containment structure last November at a Southern Company plant using systems from Hazon Solutions and Charlotte UAV. The inspection, which included look- ing for cracks and other f laws in the concrete, took about three hours, with the team able to verify that the informa- tion collected by the drone's camera had equivalent resolution as what would have been seen by the naked eye. This was EPRI's first demonstration, and Lindberg said they took away valu- able lessons, including how important communication is to a successful mission. "As is normal in a nuclear power plant when performing a first-time application of a technology, there was a lot of time spent communicating with people, making sure the right people are in the know and that you're getting the right paperwork in place," Lindberg said. "That took a better por- tion of the time spent on site than the actual inspection." The team sees the benefit of using drones to inspect other structures, such as dry cask fuel storage, Lindberg said, and is looking into other areas as well, such as security patrols. Plant security performs walk downs, walking or driving around specific ar- eas of the facility to make sure every- thing is as it should be. UAS could per- form these perimeter scans instead to collect data that would be analyzed by the drone itself or security personnel back in the control room. If there was a security intrusion, the drone could be sent to investigate, giving security a better idea of what they're dealing with before they respond.

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