With confirmation from the Fukushima Prefecture in Japan – site of the 2011, post-earthquake nuclear power plant disaster – the International Atomic Energy Agency of the United Nations said in early February that advances in drone technology showed viable promises for post-accident mapping and monitoring.
With nuclear power disaster sites too toxic for human beings, the use of drones could be sophisticated and affordable, the IAEA said. With agency-developed instrumentation and methodologies, advanced sensing and GPS systems could be flown over disaster sites. These options have now “been tested and validated under real conditions in the Fukushima Prefecture in Japan and (are) now available for practical use in routine or emergency situations,” the IAEA said“The low cost of drones and the fact that people avoid being exposed to radiation by using them are significant advantages of this technology,” the agency noted.
The IAEA and the Fukushima Prefector began work on developing drone-based site monitoring in 2012. In addition, improvements in drone technology are expected “in the near future,” said the agency, which expects advances in integration of ground and aerial instrumentation, improved self-navigation and the ability for separate drones to cooperate with each other and with ground-based technology.
“These novel developments will allow both longer flight time of the UAV and determination of the dose equivalent rates and gamma spectra in a single measurement,” said Danas Ridikas, Head of the IAEA Physics Section.
“When combined with high quality camera capabilities, the new system will allow obtaining a full 3D aerial photogrammetry model superimposed with the radiological maps and radionuclide identification,” Ridikas said.
Data confirming the results of the IAEA and the Fukushima Prefecture drone project are to be made public soon, the agency said.
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