Swiss drone manufacturer Flyability has made a name for itself with its rugged Elios drone, which flies in an insect-inspired frame and effectively bounces off obstacles. This kind of capability has obvious applications in public safety and industries such as construction and mining, where the working environment isn’t always friendly.
This week Flyability have revealed that the Elios has gone a step further in the dangerous environment stakes, proving its worth in the nuclear industry after exposure to deadly radiation.
Flyability’s Elios operates in deadly environments
In a test conducted by Elios reseller Exelon PowerLabs – a drone company setup by the US energy provider – the drone was exposed to incremental increases of radiation during operation. During the final test, the optical camera and radio control of the Elios performed without issue despite being exposed to radiation for 10 minutes at a rate of 800 Rem/Hour.
Cumulatively, the tests exposed the Elios to more than 180 Rem (1.8 Sv) – more than 90 times the yearly dose limit for a human working at a nuclear plant in the US.
The Elios has been used in the nuclear industry in five countries already, and on more than 30% of all U.S. nuclear plants.
Having proven itself capable of operating despite radiation, the use of the Elios drone has ensured energy companies don’t need to send humans to perform visual inspections in radioactive environments.
Successful nuclear missions around the world
According to Flyability, the most successful public use of the Elios involved a major US energy producer saving half a million dollars in loss of production – in a single flight. The Elios was used to check for a suspected leakage in the basement of a reactor while under operation, without exposing their workers to radiation.
The Elios drone has also been successfully deployed in Europe, inspecting a tank in the primary cooling circuit of a nuclear plant.
In a statement the company said, “Flyability is exploring use cases such as nuclear asset decommissioning, nuclear used fuel storage management by providing a visual access to, otherwise, hardly accessible places. The results of the recent tests confirm the potential of Elios and benefits for their users, especially for the radiation specialist in charge of reducing human exposure to radiations.”
Exelon PowerLabs undertook the testing of the Elios at one of Exelon’s nuclear sites.
“Exelon PowerLabs is helping drive innovation and the use of new technologies at nuclear energy facilities,” said Colbey Ryan, business development manager, Exelon PowerLabs. “By using drones and other forms of advanced technologies, nuclear plants can operate more efficiently, reliably and safely.”