Designing and Flight-Testing a Swarm of Small UAS to Assist Post-Nuclear Blast Forensics

Nuclear blasts leave plumes of residue and sources of radiation behind that can be used to determine their origin. To assist in locating the best areas to collect ground samples a team from West Point developed an autonomous Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) swarm system for expedited remote sensing. The system includes several distributed control algorithms to enable a team of quadrotor UAS to rapidly survey regions for radiation. Each vehicle is equipped with a sensor suite to measure radiation and estimate the source strength on the surface. While UAS survey the area, their data is fused into a single heatmap which becomes available in real-time to end-users employing the Android Tactical Assault Kit (ATAK). A rapid deployment system was developed to streamline how UAS are configured in preflight and enables them to launch directly from a box used for transport. The system was successfully demonstrated in a live flight test event over an active radiation field at Savannah River Site SC in April 2019.
Robot sensing systems, Real-time systems, Software, Forensics, Decentralized control, Aircraft
A. Kopeikin et al., "Designing and Flight-Testing a Swarm of Small UAS to Assist Post-Nuclear Blast Forensics," 2020 International Conference on Unmanned Aircraft Systems (ICUAS), Athens, Greece, 2020, pp. 466-472, doi: 10.1109/ICUAS48674.2020.9213863.