Autonomous drones stand to make a big impact inspecting industrial facilities after accidents or natural disasters.
At the EnRicH 2021 European Robotics Hackathon, an unmanned aircraft system from Southwest Research Institute mapped a nuclear power plant.
It also autonomously detected sources of radiation.
The drone uses computer vision sensors powered by new algorithms to explore and map unknown environments.
The four-axis drone has LIDAR, a time-of-flight camera and radiation detectors.
At the event, the drone found two sources of cobalt-60, a radioisotope, hidden in separate locations.
The event took place at the Zwentendorf Nuclear Power Plant in Austria, the only nuclear facility to be built but never activated.
The plant is used as a training ground for nuclear incidents and disaster scenarios.