Mirion has created a system for integrating our radiation technology with the Spot agile mobile robot. This new technology allows those who work with radioactive hazards to measure and detect radiation from a safe distance.

If you’ve visited a Mirion booth at industry tradeshows or our users’ conference, Mirion Connect, you may have noticed a quadruped robot on the demo floor. That is the Spot robot from Boston Dynamics, and it typically steals the show with its lifelike movement and entertaining dance prowess.

Of course, the quadruped robot can do much more than entertain, and our technology is now bringing its abilities to another level.

Spot has proven itself as an invaluable tool for a variety of industries that often require hazardous tasks, such as mining, construction, manufacturing and more. With 360° perception and dynamic balancing, the quadruped robot can go anywhere humans can go, along with many places humans can’t go, so they stay safe while the robot helps them work.

In this, the Spot robot and Mirion share a goal: enabling people to perform vital but potentially dangerous work without risking their health or safety. Our mission to allow people to safely harness the power of ionizing radiation goes hand-in-hand with the robot’s abilities.

It was this common ground that made Joshua Handley, Chief Architect of Applied Solutions at Mirion, see the robot’s potential for the industries we serve.

“After seeing the capabilities of Spot, I immediately begin thinking of ways to deploy the technology to improve safety and data collection tasks, particularly those that are dirty, dull, or dangerous,” says Handley. “It’s a very agile robot so the addition of our radiation detectors and other contextual sensors, such as chemical and gas detection, provides a remarkable system that allows operators to collect actionable measurement data, either routinely or during emergency situations, without having to gear-up and enter the areas themselves.”

The Mirion Backpack

The Spot robot has some unique features that are particularly helpful for working with radiation. Recent testing has shown that the robot can absorb at least up to 413 rem of gamma radiation without system failure—way more than anyone would want to be exposed to. Plus, its four-legged design minimizes contact with the floor, leaving less opportunity for the robot to spread radiation as it goes from place to place.

With this in mind, we decided it was time for the Spot robot to get a wardrobe upgrade and prepare for new jobs.

The robot has two ports on its topside to allow for outside hardware, also called payloads, to integrate with it directly. Handley designed a specialized “Backpack,” which interfaces with the robot via an embedded processing computer and custom software, allowing it to connect to a wide range of sensors, including all the Mirion modern radiation detection instruments. With the backpack and a new coat of Mirion blue, the Spot robot was ready to transform into our own version of the agile mobile robot, “Astro,” which you will see being demonstrated at many tradeshows today.

The Mirion backpack allows for the integration of many types of sensors and inputs, but we provide standard payload options as well:

  • Robot controller interface:
    Displays collected data from detectors and sensors in real time without the need for additional displays, computers or radio links.
  • RDS-32™ Survey Meter:
    Provides calibrated dose rate measurements and allows for the connection of any Mirion smart probes, including alpha/beta and neutron detection.
  • Data Analyst™ module:
    Provides laboratory-grade spectroscopic measurements to be analyzed directly onboard the robot, with identification and quantification results displayed directly on the controller.
  • SPIR-Explorer™ sensor:
    An all-in-one detector for dosimetry and spectroscopy measurements, along with a very unique, rapid radionuclide identification algorithm for identifying radionuclides in just a few seconds.

With our payloads, the Spot robot can monitor environmental conditions, analyze data, assess radiological and non-radiological hazards, provide high-resolution 3D mapping and more. It can also be programmed to perform all of the measurements fully autonomously, letting it work on its own and collect routine measurements without the need for an operator.

How Spot the Agile Mobile Robot and Mirion are Making a Difference

Our work with the Spot robot offers a new advantage in the radiation detection and measurement industry. As a walking mobile laboratory, the robot can collect reliable, accurate data and provide the results in real time. Having access to continuous, live data gives workers the benefit of being able to make informed decisions based on the most recent information as it comes in.

The robot’s ability to carry out automated missions also saves workers time, letting them perform other tasks without having to directly control the robot as it does its job. Since it can be set to collect data on its own, data can be more frequently analyzed, which enables better long-term trend analysis of radiation levels and environmental conditions.

Most importantly, these innovations significantly enhance safety for those doing crucial work in homeland security, nuclear power, and more. Being able to send the robot to work in unsafe areas helps to lower workers’ annual dose rate while improving the quality of data and the ease with which it can be collected. With our technology and the help of the Spot robot, we aim to continue improving safety and helping humankind to move forward with its important work with and around ionizing radiation.

Interested in using the Spot robot for your radiological safety needs?
Contact a sales rep and learn more »