UAV equipped with radiation detectors can assist hazmat teams

By Patrick C. Miller | June 21, 2017

BNC Scientific is adding an unmanned aircraft vehicle (UAV) equipped with radiation detectors to its suite of hazardous materials and first responder instrumentation.

The lightweight system—called the Phoenix ACE RAD Airborne Radiation Detector—is capable of detecting gamma and x-rays from a safe distance using a tablet and joystick controller. According to the company, UAV's equipped with nuclear radiation detectors are valuable tools for radiation detection and incident mitigation programs.

“Radiation detection UAV's have amazing potential to support hazmat agencies and provide critical information on plume direction, contamination levels and potential risks,” said Allan Gonzalez, BNC Scientific detection systems product manager.

The Phoenix ACE RAD will be used for aerial and plume mapping, site surveying and for inspecting buildings and other structures. BNC said the combination of a UAV and radiation detector allows hazardous situations to be assessed and evaluated without putting first responders at risk. The UAV also offers the advantages of low-cost surveys and the ability to reach difficult places.

The Phoenix UAV has an hour of flight time and weighs less than 7 pounds. A high-resolution camera provides operators with a clear view. The aircraft’s IP65 rating ensures the unit can operate in fog, light rain or dry, sandy conditions. Additional features planned for late 2017 include neutron detection, gamma spectroscopy capabilities and waypoint support.

BNC Scientific is a subdivision of Berkley Nucleonics Corp., headquartered in San Rafael, California. The company provides offers instrument repair and service, consulting and training on a full range of products and systems to the technical community.