Radiation Surveying: Elios 3 Indoor Inspection Drone Gets New Payload

Flyability and Mirion Technologies Partner for Radiation Survey Payload for Elios 3

by DRONELIFE Staff Writer Ian M. Crosby

Indoor drone company Flyability, in partnership with radiation detection leader Mirion Technologies, has announced the launch of a radiation surveying payload for the Elios 3 indoor inspection drone.

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By integrating the Mirion RDS-32™ radiation survey meter onto Flyability’s Elios 3, this new solution lets users map the environment while gathering radiological data to be localized in a high-resolution 3D model of their asset.

With this integration, the Elios 3 is the first commercially available drone capable of remotely operated indoor radiation surveying and localization. It provides nuclear personnel with a safe method of collecting data without entering irradiated areas.

“This partnership between two market leaders is an important step towards the specialization of Elios 3 to provide full solutions in our main markets,” said Flyability CEO Patrick Thévoz. “The months of field testing in nuclear facilities has proved that this product will strongly contribute to our mission of increasing safety through robotics.”

This integration includes a new widget for Elios 3’s piloting app, Cockpit, providing the pilot with a live reading of the sensor featuring current dose rate to characterize radiation sources, cumulated dose to allow for radiation planning, and measurement history to visualize measurement trend and search for higher radiation sources. In addition, the live map has been upgraded to colorize the drone trajectory based on the recorded level of radiation.

Each flight can be reviewed to create reports using Flyability’s data processing software, Inspector. The radiation data is shown on a 3D map of the asset indicating the drone’s trajectory, radiation levels along the flight path, cumulated dose over a selected portion of the flight, and specific dose rate measured at points of interest.

“By combining the confident, precise measurement of our RDS-32 survey meter with the accessibility of the Elios 3 drone, we’ve taken nuclear operator safety to the next level,” said Mirion Technologies Group President Loic Eloy. “We are proud of this partnership with Flyability and its reinforcement of our commitment to advancing radiation safety through innovation.”

The integration underwent rigorous testing at nuclear sites across the United States and Europe, used by Radiological Protection Specialist and UAS Program Managers to conduct operations such as monitoring hydraulic leaks and measuring dose rates. Additionally, the Elios 3 has been tested for radiation resistance in a project with the DOE and the Idaho Environmental Coalition (IEC). The Elios 3 demonstrated resistance to radiation up to 10,000 R/h and a cumulated dose of 4,000 R.

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Ian attended Dominican University of California, where he received a BA in English in 2019. With a lifelong passion for writing and storytelling and a keen interest in technology, he is now contributing to DroneLife as a staff writer.

Elios Users, Don’t Miss Flyability’s First User Conference! April 17-18 in Atlanta

Flyability drones to map radioactive waste storage vault, Drone news of the week January 27Flyability’s Elios is the collision-proof drone designed for inspection in inaccessible spaces.  Now, Flyability is holding their first user conference April 17-18 in Atlanta.  Elios owners and users  – or anyone interested in the technology – won’t want to miss this opportunity to learn from other industry experts and the Flyability team.  See a full agenda and register here.

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The Flyability team will lead tech sessions including best practices for flight safety, maintenance and debugging and the differences between Elios 2 and Elios 3.  Co-founders Patrick Thévoz and Adrien Briod will reveal what’s next in for Flyability and Elios.  Industry experts using Elios for cement manufacturing, oil and gas, sewers, power generation, mining and more will be presenting on their experiences and best practices.

The Flyability User Conference brings together a community of inspections and surveying professionals from our ecosystem of industries – including power generation, oil & gas, sewers, cement, mining and more – to exchange best practices and to steer the future development of the commercial indoor drone industry.

This first Flyability user conference offers 2 days of valuable content in addition to many opportunities for networking with colleagues.   The conference is only open for in-person attendance: meet the Flyability team, get all of your questions answered, and hear from the best experts in the field at the Georgia International Convention Center, April 17-18 2023.

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Inside the Department of Energy Project Using Drones to Map Radioactive Waste Storage Vaults

Flyability drones to map radioactive waste storage vaultDOE Site Uses Flyability’s Elios 3 drones to Map Radioactive Waste Storage Vault

by DRONELIFE Staff Writer Ian M. Crosby

Flyability’s Elios 3 has successfully completed a 3D mapping operation of a radioactive waste storage vault following more than a year of preparation and research. The information obtained in the mapping project will prove crucial to planning the vault’s removal. This is thought to be the first time a drone has been deployed to enter a high-level radioactive waste storage vault.

The mission was conducted last November at the Idaho Nuclear Technology and Engineering Center at the Idaho National Laboratory Site by a team of roughly 50 people, who covered the top of the vault with a plastic tent to guarantee the mission took place indoors as per FAA regulations and Department of Energy (DOE) requirements, and who operated a crane to lift the vault’s lid and hatch.

If the drone was lost during the mission, it would not be possible to retrieve it. However, the Elios 3 succeeded, and DOE contractor Idaho Environmental Coalition (IEC) was able to gather all the necessary LiDAR data to create a 3D map of the vault in just one 7-minute flight. An expert from 3D mapping software company GeoSLAM was in attendance to process the LiDAR data on GeoSLAM’s software, guaranteeing the model would meet the IEC’s needs.

“The Elios 3 was able to collect all the data we needed despite the high levels of radiation in the vault,” said IEC Principal Electrical Engineer Kevin Young. “Getting this data was crucial to the project safely moving forward. The mission was a huge success.”

For the last two years, the IEC’s Calcine Retrieval Project had been seeking a solution to 3D map the vault’s interior. Granulated radioactive waste called calcine had originally been placed in 20-foot-tall stainless-steel bins inside the vault with no plans for removal, rendering any efforts to do so difficult.

IEC had devised a remote solution that involved drilling into the vault, robotically welding pipes onto the tops of the bins, and cutting into them with a plasma cutter. After the pipes were attached, they would pneumatically transfer the calcine. However, it would be impossible to know where to drill without detailed blueprints or a 3D map of the vault’s interior.

After selecting the Elios 3 as a solution, IEC tested the drone in a high-radiation environment, where it was exposed to up to 10,000 Roentgen per hour of radiation to ensure it would remain operable within the vault. In addition, the IEC built a life-sized replica of the vault for training pilots in an environment simulating the actual location in which they were to operate.

drones to map radioactive waste storage vault“After over a year of preparation it has been incredibly exciting to see this project conclude successfully,” says Alexandre Meldem, Managing Director of Flyability North America. “We are always looking for ways Flyability’s technology can be leveraged to gather data that would be hard or even impossible to collect otherwise. This mission is a prime example of the benefits the Elios 3 can provide for 3D mapping confined spaces to support inspections and project planning.”

Following two successful LiDAR data collection flights, IEC conducted a third experimental flight with a dosimeter attached to the drone, increasing its weight. After entering the vault the drone was unable to produce enough lift to remain aloft, descending atop a storage bin and becoming caught on a piece of angle iron, with all attempts at freeing it failing. Before its battery died, the drone transmitted a maximum radiation reading of 7 Gy/h (700 rad/h) from atop the bin. A comprehensive analysis by ICP subject matter experts found that the drone could be safely left on top of the storage bin without issue.

After the successful 3D mapping, the operation’s next step is to plan for the removal of the calcine, which the IEC intends to start this year. The site features a total of six vaults storing a collective 4,400 cubic meters of calcine.

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Ian attended Dominican University of California, where he received a BA in English in 2019. With a lifelong passion for writing and storytelling and a keen interest in technology, he is now contributing to DroneLife as a staff writer.

For the Dark, Dirty and Dangerous, Flyability Elios 3 LiDAR Drone: Check Out this Fly Through a Decommissioned Nuclear Plant
For the Dark, Dirty and Dangerous, Flyability Elios 3 LiDAR Drone: Check Out this Fly Through a Decommissioned Nuclear Plant

Flyability Unveils the Elios 3 LiDAR Drone for Dark, Dirty and Dangerous Indoor Spaces

Flyability Elios 3 LiDARby DRONELIFE Staff Writer Ian M. Crosby

Today, Flyability launched its Elios 3, the first ever collision-tolerant drone equipped with a LiDAR sensor for indoor 3D mapping.

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Since its first product in 2016, Flyability has been leading the way in the development of confined space inspection drones. The Elios 3 is the continuation of Flyability’s mission to develop technology that keeps human inspectors out of dangerous locations.

“The Elios 3 has some of the very best stabilization in the world, a modular payload, the ability to create 3D models in real time while in flight, and it paves the way towards an increasingly autonomous future,” said Flyability co-founder and CEO Patrick Thévoz. “For industrial inspections, the Elios 3 is a key enabler of Industry 4.0, presenting an inspection solution that can make inspections safer, more efficient, and less expensive than ever before.”

Flyability Elios 3 LiDAR

Elios 3 in water treatment infrastructure.

Elios 3

The Elios 3 is equipped with an Ouster OS0-32 LiDAR sensor, enabling data collection for the purpose of generating 3D models via software from partner GeoSLAM. The pairing of technology from Flyability and GeoSLAM allows for the production of survey-grade point clouds of inaccessible spaces, eliminating any uncertainty stemming from a reliance on approximations and guesswork. The Elios 3 is also able to carry a second payload in addition to the LiDAR sensor, allowing for a great deal of customization to suit the user’s needs.

“The Elios 3 is the single biggest project that Flyability has ever undertaken,” said Flyability CTO Adrien Briod . “If you think of the Elios 2 as your classic flip phone, only designed to make phone calls, the Elios 3 is the smartphone. It’s made to be customized for the specific demands of each user, letting you attach the payload you need so you can use the tool as you like, and allowing it to grow and improve over time with new payloads or software solutions. .”

The Elios 3 is the product of more than four years of development. As part of its development process, Flyability worked alongside some of the world’s top universities by joining Team Cerberus, which won DARPA’s multi-year Sub-T contest for drones in underground environments.

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Ian attended Dominican University of California, where he received a BA in English in 2019. With a lifelong passion for writing and storytelling and a keen interest in technology, he is now contributing to DroneLife as a staff writer.