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The results of the RaDron research project represent a promising extension of radiation safety technologies. An advanced autonomous drone from CTU Faculty of Electrical Engineering, equipped with unique particle detectors from the Prague company ADVACAM, will enable effective detection of sources of radioactivity, including moving ones. In the future, the new method of localization may also facilitate the work of the specialized team of the Řež Nuclear Research Institute, which deals with the discovery of sources of ionizing radiation. The partners presented the results of the project on Thursday 26 October in Řež. The programme included a dynamic demonstration of finding the source of radioactivity and a simulation of the action of the NRI Řež interception team.

The new technology can be used in a wide range of activities related to both routine radiation situations and emergencies. In addition to monitoring changes in the radiation situation or creating radiation heatmaps, it will offer assistance, for example, during fires at radiological facilities, searching for stolen radiation sources, accidents during transport of radioactive material or scanning large areas.

"Unlike today's common dosimetry technology, our small sensors can detect not only the presence of radiation, but also the direction from which the radiation is coming. This speeds up the whole search many times over," explains Jan Jakůbek, Scientific Director of ADVACAM.

Compared to current systems, a drone with on-board artificial intelligence can use a combination of small size and high mobility, i.e. it can search for resources very quickly even in difficult to access terrains. "The detection technology is capable of capturing and identifying individual radiation particles in real time. This enables RaDron to find the source of radiation significantly more efficiently than is possible today, at an incomparably lower acquisition cost. In addition, we have demonstrated in the project that the possibility of deploying a team of cooperating drones makes it possible to accurately locate even a moving radiation source, which is very difficult and in many cases practically impossible with current technology," says doc. Martin Saska, head of the Multirobotic Systems Group at the Department of Cybernetics at Faculty of Electrical Engineering, CTU in Prague.

Among the wide competences of the Řež NRI is also the solution of detections of unknown radiation sources. "Detection of sources of radioactive radiation can sometimes be very problematic, but the speed of tracking and securing them is crucial for the protection of the health of the population and the environment. Subsequent identification of radionuclides, characterisation and eventual disposal already takes place in the safe environment of our laboratories," confirms the benefits of the project Karel Prchal, Head of the Radioactive Waste Management Department at Řež NRI.

Timepix3 chips are at the core

The aim of the RaDron project was to test a new method to detect standing or even moving radiation sources as quickly as possible. During three years of research, funded by the Czech Technology Agency, they have experimentally demonstrated that a detector attached to an autonomous drone can reliably locate a sample of radioactive Cesium-137 in an area of 1000 m2 within two minutes. At the core of the RaDron technology are Timepix3 chips, which provide the system with a complete set of information about each radiation particle captured. This makes them an exceptionally powerful tool for dosimetry and for describing the radiation field. In addition, the chip can act as a so-called Compton camera, which can determine the direction from which the particles are striking the sensor. This means that there is no need to systematically sweep the entire area. The drone can head straight for the target.

RaDron can also be deployed indoors

The prototype of the device, developed in cooperation with Czech companies within the framework of the TA CR TREND programme, Sub-programme 1 "Technology Leaders", is now ready for deployment at the end customer. Academics from FEL CTU are able to customize the drone software (autonomous search and source identification by one or a group of drones), ADVACAM s.r.o and Fly4Future s.r.o will prepare a specific application of the drone with Timepix ionizing radiation detector tailored for the end user of the system. The ADVACAM' s detector, which was developed in cooperation with CERN, is also a supplier to the US NASA. The offered drone is available in a variant for outdoor flight with GPS or in a variant for deployment indoors and near obstacles where GPS signal is not available and the drone uses unique software developed by scientists from CTU Faculty of Electrical Engineering  for its navigation.

Where RaDron can be used

  • Accidents during transport of radioactive material
  • Fires in radiology departments of hospitals
  • Nuclear accidents
  • Search for stolen radiation sources
  • Systematic scanning of areas of interest and creation of radiation maps
  • Identification of the type of radiation source
  • Monitoring changes in the radiation situation    

RaDron project videoreel


Multirobotic Systems Group (MRS), Faculty of Electrical Engineering, CTU

The Multirobotic Systems (MRS) group, operating at the Department of Cybernetics of Faculty of Electrical Engineering of Czech Technical University in Prague, uses a globally unique technology of very precise helicopter control, which turns out to be the most reliable and significantly successful of all competing solutions. The ability to fly very accurately, and therefore safely, is crucial for deployment in a wide range of situations, especially near obstacles, in confined spaces and building interiors.

The team has made significant progress in the development of these technologies over several years of intensive research in collaboration with the world's leading laboratories. Today's drones can move autonomously along a predetermined safe route while responding to unexpected obstacles. The group flight and stabilization capabilities of low-flying drones are already being tested by researchers from the CTU's Charles Square campus in the areas of searching and rescuing people in inaccessible terrains underground or in the desert, mapping historical interiors or monitoring power line poles, among others.

Rež NRI, Profile of the Division Radioactive Waste and Decommissioning

We are the only company in the Czech Republic that covers the complete chain of services in the field of radioactive waste management (RAW) from its detection and identification, through its processing and treatment (disposal) to its preparation for safe storage. We are qualified for all the activities we offer, including all the necessary authorisations from the State office for Nuclear Security (SONS).

Radioactive waste management in our competence includes:

  • Detection, identification and characterisation of RAWs, including the discovery of unknown or abandoned sources of ionising radiation (IR),
  • scollection, sorting, storage, transport, treatment and conditioning of institutional RAW (RAW disposal),
  • support for technologies for the treatment and conditioning of RAW,
  • development and support for the operation of RAW repositories,
  • accredited measurements of radionuclides and nuclear material

We process and treat for disposal more than 95% of RAW (solid and liquid) generated in the Czech Republic in industry, hospitals and other workplaces. A separate complex area of our RAW management services is the decommissioning of nuclear facilities and sites with sources of ionising radiation.

Since 2007, we have been providing comprehensive services in the international transport of spent nuclear fuel from research reactors.

Radioaktivní odpady a vyřazování - ÚJV Řež, a. s. (

ADVACAM s.r.o.

ADVACAM brings global innovation in advanced imaging research and in the development and manufacture of particle cameras capable of detecting and counting every single photon of incident radiation. Founded in 2013, the company was created based on breakthrough technologies developed through international scientific collaboration at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN).

ADVACAM's patented detectors are among the most advanced imaging technologies in the world. These breakthrough cameras are used in a wide range of industries for diverse applications. For example, measuring radiation conditions on the International Space Station (ISS), for European Space Agency (ESA) communications satellites, for mineral analysis in the mining industry, for non-destructive testing in aviation, non-invasive medical imaging, and even for fine art inspection.

Contact person: 
Radovan Suk