Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Radiological Scouting, Monitoring and Inspection using Drones

Version 1 : Received: 26 March 2021 / Approved: 29 March 2021 / Online: 29 March 2021 (16:04:33 CEST)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Pinto, L.R.; Vale, A.; Brouwer, Y.; Borbinha, J.; Corisco, J.; Ventura, R.; Silva, A.M.; Mourato, A.; Marques, G.; Romanets, Y.; Sargento, S.; Gonçalves, B. Radiological Scouting, Monitoring and Inspection Using Drones. Sensors 2021, 21, 3143. Pinto, L.R.; Vale, A.; Brouwer, Y.; Borbinha, J.; Corisco, J.; Ventura, R.; Silva, A.M.; Mourato, A.; Marques, G.; Romanets, Y.; Sargento, S.; Gonçalves, B. Radiological Scouting, Monitoring and Inspection Using Drones. Sensors 2021, 21, 3143.

Journal reference: Sensors 2021, 21, 3143
DOI: 10.3390/s21093143

Abstract

Human populations and natural ecosystems are bound to be exposed to ionizing radiation1from the deposition of artificial radionuclides resulting from nuclear accidents, nuclear devices2or radiological dispersive devices ("dirty bombs"). On the other hand, NORM industries such as3phosphate production or uranium mining, contribute to the on site storage of residuals with enhanced4concentrations of natural radionuclides. Therefore, in the context of the European agreements5concerning nuclear energy, namely the EURATOM (European Atomic Energy Community) Treaty,6monitoring is an essential feature of the environmental radiological surveillance. In this work, we7obtain 3D maps from outdoor scenarios, and complete such maps with measured radiation levels8and with its radionuclide signature. In such scenarios, we face challenges such as unknown and9rough terrain, limited number of sampled locations and the need for different sensors and therefore10different tasks. We propose a radiological solution for scouting, monitoring and inspecting an area of11interest, using a fleet of drones and a controlling ground station. First, we scout an area with a LiDAR12onboard a drone to accurately 3D-map the area. Then, we monitor that area with a Geiger-Muller13sensor at a low-vertical distance from the ground to produce a radiological (heat)map that is overlaid14on the 3D map of the scenario. Next, we identify the hotspots of radiation, and inspect them in detail15using a drone by landing on them, to reveal its radionuclide signature using a CZT sensor. We present16the algorithms used to implement such tasks both at the ground station and on the drones. The three17mission phases were validated using actual experiments in three different outdoor scenarios. We18conclude that drones can not only perform the mission efficiently, but in general they are faster and19as reliable as personnel on the ground

Keywords

3D reconstruction; Drone; GMC; CZT; Heatmap; Radiological inspection; Radiological sensor; SLAM; UAV

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