Boston Dynamics’ robot dog will help with the Chernobyl tragedy

If any of you think that in Chernobyl everything is safe after so long, you are wrong.

What remains of Reactor 4, which suffered a catastrophic collapse in 1986, has been covered in almost every possible way, always in an effort to keep its nuclear core contained, but sooner or later we will have to face the fact that there is nuclear material. underneath it all, and it will have to be dealt with somehow.

In order to get closer to a definitive solution, it is necessary to better understand what is there below, to know the structure and status of each area, and for that, Spot, the famous robot-dog from Boston Dynamics, will help us.

Shortly after the explosion that we all saw on Netflix, Reactor 4 was covered with a sarcophagus of concrete and steel, all with the aim of hiding 30 tons of highly contaminated dust, 16 tons of uranium and plutonium and 200 tons of lava. radioactive. Over time that sarcophagus slowly deteriorated, and in the late 1990s it was decided to erect a huge building over the entire mess to stabilize the issue.

Reactor 4 now lives inside the New Safe Containment (NSC), waiting for a safe reactor takedown someday.

Why did you choose the Spot robot

Dr. Dave Megson-Smith, a researcher at the University of Bristol, in the United Kingdom, has been one of those who has accompanied Spot on his adventure. Megson-Smith specializes in sensor development and equipped Spot with a radiation sensor in addition to its mapping payload.

Currently the floor of the building is very dusty, and a priority within the NSC is to keep dust as low as possible, as dust is radioactive and sticks to everything and is therefore the easiest way for radioactivity to escape. of the NSC. Using a robot with legs raises less dust than using wheels, and it also takes up much smaller space.

Routine weekly measurements in contaminated spaces at Chernobyl are performed by humans, and a robot like Spot could potentially replace those humans. We are not talking about environments where robots are destroyed by radioactivity, and we are talking about machines sneaking around contaminated environments for mapping purposes.

Making robots incredibly resistant to radiation is a challenge, as we saw in Fukushima, where there is a particular section known as a robot graveyard, where robots are simply going to die after sending data. Now it is necessary to verify what is the tolerance of Spot, what components will fail and what can be done to harden it.

Spot’s short-term goal is fully autonomous radiation mapping, and it will be tested with a wider range of sensor packages.