Governments were shaken and the entire world was stunned when the most catastrophic accident occurred in Chernobyl on the 26th of April, 1986. Nuclear Reactor 4 of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant underwent a massive explosion releasing tonnes of radioactive gases and liquids to the surrounding. High levels of radioactivity around this town resulted in a huge number of cancer victims, some of whom very little children. Also, radioactivity around this place is affecting several people even today!

Chernobyl nuclear reactor 4

The Nuclear Reactor 4 of Chernobyl after the accident

The Red Forest

The Red Forest of Ukraine is a mere 500 metres away from the Chernobyl Nuclear Centre. It has been showing high amounts of radioactivity for several decades. This forest was strictly forbidden for people to enter. But now, as the radioactivity has been observed to dissipate, areas quite far from the Chernobyl Nuclear area have been opened to tourists. However, there are still hotspots in the Red Forest showing signs of radioactivity. It is not safe for humans to enter the forest and survey the hotspots.

the red forest

The Red Forest (500 meters away from Chernobyl nuclear plant)

Radioactive Hotspots in the Red Forest

A group of interdisciplinary scientists from the UK’s National Centre for Nuclear Robotics has found a solution. They have developed a drone-mapping system that will help scientists investigate the area from a safe distance. Fixed wing drones fly steadily at a speed of 65 Kmph to investigate radioactivity across the Red Forest. If an area with unusual radioactivity is spotted, rotary drones follow to this spot. Then, they use high-quality sensors like lidar and other imaging techniques to create a 3D image of the area infested with radioactive materials such as spent fuel. Data from these drones are used in creating detailed maps showing radioactive hotspots. Thus, these maps can be used by officials in safeguarding tourists and other people entering these zones.

drone being prepared for survey

A drone being set-up to fly over the Red Forest
radiation map developed by drones

Radiation maps developed from the drone’s data

The drones were made to fly 50 missions in 10 days so far. The survey successfully spotted an abandoned soil separation unit that had spent-fuel left scattered on the floor giving very high radiation doses. Moreover, this survey data will soon be handed to officials to take further actions.