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Real-Time Avoidance of Ionising Radiation Using Layered Costmaps for Mobile Robots

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

Article number862067
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>17/03/2022
<mark>Journal</mark>Frontiers in Robotics and AI
Number of pages13
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Humans in hazardous environments take actions to reduce unnecessary risk, including limiting exposure to radioactive materials where ionising radiation can be a threat to human health. Robots can adopt the same approach of risk avoidance to minimise exposure to radiation, therefore limiting damage to electronics and materials. Reducing a robot’s exposure to radiation results in longer operational lifetime and better return on investment for nuclear sector stakeholders. This work achieves radiation avoidance through the use of layered costmaps, to inform path planning algorithms of this additional risk. Interpolation of radiation observations into the configuration space of the robot is accomplished using an inverse distance weighting approach. This technique was successfully demonstrated using an unmanned ground vehicle running the Robot Operating System equipped with compatible gamma radiation sensors, both in simulation and in real-world mock inspection missions, where the vehicle was exposed to radioactive materials in Lancaster University’s Neutron Laboratory. The addition of radiation avoidance functionality was shown to reduce total accumulated dose to background levels in real-world deployment and up to a factor of 10 in simulation.