The Cordovan company Universe Drone has an ambitious project in which, for the first time, it will use piloted drones to take measurements of nuclear radioactivity during the process of dismantling the José Cabrera Nuclear Power Plant, in Almonacid de Zorita, Guadalajara.
The chief engineer of Universe Drone, Jesús García, explained to Efefuturo that this project, “a pioneer in the world of nuclear energy”, will allow the process of dismantling the oldest nuclear power plant in Spain to replace more expensive processes with the use of UAVs.
The project consists of using these drones with a built-in sensor capable of taking static and dynamic readings of the entire plant, a task previously performed by operators and involved the use of scaffolding that was then to be taken to a Centralized Temporary Residue Warehouse, have been used in a nuclear installation.
Given that there is no coordinate system inside the plant, Universe Drone has devised a method that incorporates ultrasonic sensors, which can measure exactly where the equipment is, and then classify the radiation measurements obtained throughout the central.
García graduated as an agronomist from the University of Córdoba (UCO), however as the end of his studies coincided with the introduction of drones in Spain, he decided to start a UAV company combining two branches: one engineering, called Twelve Engineering, and the other aeronautical training and consulting. García was thrilled to be selected by the National Company of Radioactive Waste (Enresa) to develop this project, which carries great responsibility.
The launch of Universe Drone coincided with the “boom” of the drones, which meant a great many people started flying them in urban centers without regulation. This motivated the Spanish government to pass regulations, which García considers “quite restrictive” as it prevents flying in city or perform nocturnal operations.
García now celebrates the approval by the Spanish Government last December of laws expanding the operational framework of drones so that they may make flights in the city, at night and in controlled areas such as airports, as long as there is a previous study of security.
“In the audio-visual world, and in engineering or any other field, flying in the city opens a wide range of possibilities that was not allowed,” says Jesús. To fly a drone commercially in Spain you must be of legal age, have a certificate medical and have successfully completed a test on the theoretical and practical use of UAVs, and in addition be registered in the registry of operators of the State Agency for Air Safety (AESA).
Jesús García meets these requirements and once he has finished dismantling Almonacid de Zorita’s nuclear power plant, intends to work in agriculture using sensors such as 3D precision mapping and thermal imaging to assist farmers perform precision farming. As the new laws allows flying at night, García also hopes to resume a project to control forest fires that he previously proposed with the support of the Regional Government of Andalucía, using nighttime locators to locate and tackle forest fire outbreaks.