Routescene 3D mapping solution reveals hotspots at Chernobyl

February 12, 2020  - By
Photo: Routescene

Photo: Routescene

Researchers from the U.K.’s National Centre for Nuclear Robotics (NCNR) are using Routescene’s UAV lidar technology to map radioactive hotspots in Chernobyl’s Red Forest.

Professor Tom Scott, from the School of Physics at the University of Bristol, U.K., led a group of researchers from NCNR to conduct surveys on multiple sites of interest, including the Buriakivka village, a settlement abandoned following contamination from the power plant accident, and the “Red Forest,” a natural woodland area located the closest to the reactor.

Working closely with local Ukrainian authorities, the team operated unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) — Routescene’s LidarPods flown on DJI M600 hexacopter drones — to perform a series of radiation mapping surveys over the course of 10 days.

According to Routescene, the point cloud data collected was processing using its LidarViewer Pro software to generate a detailed digital terrain model. It was then overlaid with the results from a gamma spectrometer survey, undertaken to measure radiation intensity, to locate the exact sites of the radiation hotspots.

“The algorithm converts the aerial radiation intensity recorded by a UAV survey into a ground intensity map,” said Kieran Wood, senior research associate at the University of Bristol. “This process is heavily affected by the distance between the airborne radiation sensor and the ground/buildings. Hence, high accuracy lidar-based models were essential.”

Photo: Routescene

Photo: Routescene


While the general widespread radiation contamination in the Red Forest was already known, the results revealed that the radioactivity was unevenly disturbed. Although radiation intensity had reduced in some areas, other areas remain highly contaminated confirming continued danger to anyone accessing those areas, Routescene reported.

In addition, the researchers detected one unexpected hotspot in the ruins of a facility that was used to separate contaminated waste during clean-up efforts immediately after the accident.

This expedition was the first in a series of surveys NCNR will conduct in Ukraine over the next year. The new maps will help officials prevent risks to visitors to the area and the full results will be published soon, Routescene said.

About the Author: Allison Kral

Allison Kral is the former digital media manager for North Coast Media (NCM). She completed her undergraduate degree at Ohio University where she received a Bachelor of Science in magazine journalism from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. She works across a number of digital platforms, which include creating e-newsletters, writing articles and posting across social media sites. She also creates content for NCM's Pit & Quarry magazine, Portable Plants magazine and Geospatial Solutions. Her understanding of the ever-changing digital media world allows her to quickly grasp what a target audience desires and create content that is appealing and relevant for any client across any platform.