The search for a lost miniature source of radioactive caesium-137 has managed to keep authorities and emergency services in Western Australia busy in recent days. The source of the dangerous beta and gamma radiation was finally found after an intensive deployment of rescue and firefighters and special equipment, but the alarming incident will continue to raise many questions.
Scientists from the Multi-robot Systems Group at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering at CTU have been working for three years to develop a solution to help rescuers in similar incidents and accidents. The RaDron research project combined the capabilities of small unmanned aircraft (drones) and miniature radioactive radiation detectors. Detectors for fast detection of gamma radiation sources are integrated into small and flexible drones, which are controlled autonomously.
According to Martin Saska, the device will be used by the police, army, rescue forces or nuclear power plants, especially in monitoring security risks. The drone’s great manoeuvrability and ability to quickly survey large areas make them predominantly applicable to security incidents such as the one now taking place in Western Australia.
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