The UK-developed Remote Intelligence Survey Equipment for Radiation (RISER) is to be deployed to measure radiation levels inside damaged reactors at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
RISER was first used inside one of the Fukushima reactor buildings several years ago and is now set to return, mounted on the drone. It has already been deployed at Sellafield, where it was used to collect vital information about conditions in the highly-contaminated Windscale Pile chimney to enable planning for it to be dismantled.
The lightweight drone uses lasers to navigate inside hazardous facilities where GPS signals cannot reach. It combines the use of a drone and radiation-mapping software, which both received research and development funding through the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and government agency, Innovate UK.
The drone is less than 1m in diameter and navigates using its own internal 'collision avoidance' capability. It can manoeuvre accurately inside complex spaces, and data is transmitted to the mapping system and displayed, highlighting areas of contamination, according to its developers.
UK computing and electronics engineering firm Createc's N-Visage radiation mapping software project was boosted in 2009 during its early stages by the investment of £50,000 ($70,000) from the NDA's R&D portfolio. In 2012, NDA and other government organisations invested additional funds in a wide range of innovative nuclear projects enabling collaboration between Createc and Bedford-based aerial systems specialist Blue Bear Systems Research, which resulted in RISER. The N-Visage technology maps radiation with "pinpoint accuracy, producing a high-definition 3D picture of contamination, quickly and safely".
Photo: RISER drone in use at Sellafield (Credit: NDA)