Engineers deploy Spot robodog to sniff out radiation in Ukraine’s Chernobyl

From monitoring the social distancing of visitors to a park in Singapore to herding sheep in New Zealand or to cheering up a baseball team in Japan, the Spot robot – developed by US-based robotics company Boston Dynamics – managed to demonstrate its capabilities in the most diverse tasks.

Now, researchers from the Central Enterprise for Radioactive Waste Management and the University of Bristol brought the four-legged robodog to the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant to test its ability to operate under radiation conditions. The robotic dog explored the area around Chernobyl’s nuclear reactor number four, which was destroyed during the 1986 disaster.

After experimenting with various devices, they chose the Boston Dynamics’ Spot robodog for its agility in moving across different terrain. The robot was accompanied on its mission by some unmanned aerial vehicles, ground-based robotic systems, sensors-scanners were used to assess the distribution of radioactive materials in the area and in space (gamma spectrometer, LiDAR, photogrammetry, hyperspectral, and neutron sensors).

Its missions include exploring the Red Forest, which covers an area of up to 10 square kilometers surrounding the Chernobyl Power Station. The Spot robot is capable of making inspection rounds all by itself and can navigate hostile environments such as the highly radioactive site of the former nuclear power plant. It also scans a large area to provide 3D images and maps of the distribution of radionuclides, according to the report from the Ukrainian news site Ukrinform.

Spot robodog managed to enter the highly radioactive zone without any difficulty, unlike other devices that have been decomposed by radioactivity.

After several years of development, Bostom Dynamics began selling Spot, which can climb stairs and adapt to any type of terrain, for $74,500. Recently, the company announced that the robot to get a self-charging dock and a robotic arm add-on capable of performing a wide variety of tasks.

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