A British-made lightweight drone that self-navigates with the use of lasers will be deployed for exploratory runs at the damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Generating Station, flying in an environment in which GPS signals cannot be used, the British government said.
The so-called RISER drone – the acronym for Remote Intelligence Survey Equipment for Radiation – was developed by Blue Bear Systems Research of Bedrord, England, with software developed by Cockermouth-based Createc. Research and development was aided by funds from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.
The same drone technology has been used successfully for decommissioning site surveys at the site of the 1957 Windscale Pile chimney fire at the Sellafield nuclear power facility, which remains dangerously radioactive today.
Both Blue Bear and Createc have received NDA support. “In 2009, Createc’s N-VisageTM radiation mapping software project was boosted during its critical early stages by a (about $70,000) funding investment from the NDA’s R&D portfolio.” the government's website noted.
According to the government's statement, “the N-VisageTM tailor-made technology maps radiation with pinpoint accuracy, producing a high-definition 3D picture of contamination, quickly and safely.”
The system was put to the test at Fukushima “several years ago … and is now set to return, mounted on the drone,” the statement said.
The drone is considered self-navigating because its laser system allows it to avoid collisions. The same feature allows it to operate inside complicated industrial structures and infrastructures.
The drone is less than one meter in diameter. A meter is equal to 3.28 feet.
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