Concept: Beligum Nuclear Research Center SCK CEN and the Belgian aeronautical firm Sabca have developed drones that carry out radiological measurements. The drones are used as a part of a monitoring program or during decommissioning projects or emergency planning to do radiation monitoring without any human involvement.

Nature of Disruption: The drone is fitted with a scintillation counter for radiation measurement. It measures radiation level by counting flashes of light caused by the influx of ionizing radiation that indicates the magnitude of the radiation. The radiation level is directly proportional to the intensity of light. Sabca provides two types of drones, a fixed-wing drone that hovers autonomously in the air and a multicopter that carries heavier detectors. These drones comply with standards of the aeronautical industry without sacrificing flexibility. They allow charting every corner of the monitoring location with accuracy. It collects data in real-time while still in the air and transmits it to the control center to further process it.

Outlook: SCK SEN and Sabca’s think tank believes that drones enable the nuclear sector to perform accurate measurements over a wide area. These measurements are indispensable to characterize the forms of radiation. Its main purpose is to carry out the radiological monitoring of nuclear sites and their surroundings. SCK SEN and Sabca received $1.2M in funding from the government and have also invested additional sums into the project.

This article was originally published in