Radiological Surveillance Using a Fixed-Wing UAV Platform

Stef Geelen, Johan Camps, Geert Olyslaegers, Wouter Schroeyers, Greet Ilegems

Research outputpeer-review


A drone–detector system was designed, developed, and tested for radiological monitoring. The system was tailored to perform measurements during the threat, release, and post-release phases of a nuclear or radiological event. This allows the surveillance of large areas, with an autonomy of up to 12 h, in a large range of altitudes above ground level. The detector system was optimized for gamma spectroscopy, taking into account the available payload for maximum endurance and maximum detection efficiency using ‘PENELOPE (2018)’ Monte Carlo simulations. A generic methodology was used to derive quantitative information on radioactivity levels from the raw measured gamma-ray spectra at different altitudes. Based on the methodology, it was demonstrated that the drone–detector system can measure the concentration of potassium-40 (K-40) that is naturally present in the soil. These measurements complied within 30% of the soil sampling results taking into account the uncertainties. The functioning of the system was tested during test flights, which demonstrated that radionuclide identification and quantification of radioactivity concentrations are possible.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3908
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number16
StatePublished - 12 Aug 2022

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