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Australian Scientists Develop Robot to Monitor Safety at Nuclear Facilities

CC BY 2.0 / lee vickers / Nuclear power plant
Nuclear power plant - Sputnik International, 1920, 24.01.2023
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Scientists at the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) said on Tuesday that they had invented a robotic system for monitoring spent nuclear fuel, which would make working conditions at nuclear facilities safer for staff.
The robotic device for observing Cherenkov radiation was created in collaboration with Hungarian robotics company Datastart and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The prototype system moved around in a spent fuel pool and provided researchers with real-time data.
"The test demonstrates that autonomous robots could soon assist with field measurement and analysis of spent nuclear fuel, providing greater protection for human workers. Inspectors currently operate above the pond on a suspended platform, sometimes in 40-degree Celsius heat, using a handheld device to identify hundreds of used nuclear fuel rods. This new technology will remove humans from harm’s way and ensure the rate of safety inspections matches that of nuclear material," CSIRO Technical Program Manager Rosie Attwell said in a statement.
According to CSIRO engineer Thomas Hines, a team of scientists is modifying the robot's ability to navigate and take detailed photographs.
As explained in the IAEA's statement, Cherenkov radiation is a form of energy that can be observed as a blue glow caused by electrons and protons moving faster than the speed of light in a specific medium. This phenomenon is named after Russian scientist Pavel Cherenkov, winner of the Nobel Prize in physics in 1958.
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