France’s Azur Drones launches automated drone radiation detection services

Azur Drones docked UAV

Leading European autonomous aerial surveillance and inspection specialist Azur Drones is launching a project for remote monitoring and detection of radiation leaks at nuclear energy plants, as well as industrial sites where risk of contamination exists.

Bordeaux-area based Azur Drones announced the initiative with industrial nuclear engineering company AVNIR Energy, and plans to offer the remote, autonomous radiation detection service across France and abroad. The platform will use Azur’s patented Skeyetech drone-in-a-box package, with AVNIR Energy’s Ionized Zone Inspection Device (DIZI) radiation sensor integrated into the craft and its operating system. 

Skeyetech is an autonomous drone that can fly day or night missions, either with or without remote piloting. Azur says it’s the first uncrewed aerial vehicle platform to receive European approval for beyond visual line of sight flights without remote navigation. Rather than functioning simply as a Geiger counter measuring radioactivity levels, meanwhile, the onboard DIZI sensor works as a scintillation detector capable of detecting, measuring, and identifying the composition of radioisotopes.

That combination is intended to not only allow operators to identify radiation leaks faster, but get a far more complete measure of their intensity and makeup from a distance as well.

The system will be used as part of regular, real-time readings during autonomous drone monitoring of facilities. When radiation levels are detected by other means, the Skeyetech-DIZI combo can be immediately deployed to collect full data from the area. When contamination prohibits even protected human intervention, the platform can be used to conduct reconnaissance and ongoing site inspection missions as remedial plans are made.

The service has already been adopted by an unspecified player in France’s large nuclear power sector. Azur Drones says it is also drawing interest from other industry actors wanting the capacity to detect and react to radioactive contamination faster, and with effective, tailored solutions to boot.

“The integration of the DIZI sensor on the Skeyetech solution offers the possibility of carrying out radioactivity readings at any location on a site in complete safety,” says Azur Drones CEO Nicolas Billecocq. “As a result, we are actively participating in the environmental monitoring of nuclear sites and contributing to their safety.”

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