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UASs (Unmanned Aerial System) to detect marine ingress near nuclear power stations Pathfinder

This Pathfinder project aims to use UASs for the early detection of marine ingress events near coastal nuclear power stations to adjust water cooling mechanisms and protect both electricity generation and the environment.

The Cranfield and EDF Pathfinder plans to establish the feasibility of Beyond Visual Line Of Sight (BVLOS) operations within a regulatory and safety context for the use of drones near nuclear plants for early detection of marine (i.e. jellyfish and kelp) ingress. The use of UAS BVLOS operations will enable routine wide area data capture for the development of an early warning system for marine ingress near nuclear power plants.

The project will:
  1. Optimise wide-area UAS monitoring protocols using statistical and mathematical techniques. This will include an academic review of the benefits of Extended Visual line of Sight (EVLOS) / BVLOS operations within the scope of the project and the quantification of the added value of EVLOS / BVLOS vs. standard Visual Line Of Sight (VLOS) operations within the context of marine ingress detection
  2. Couple UAS technology and current approaches in statistical high resolution image analysis for the early detection and warning of marine ingress
  3. Develop an operational BVLOS UAS based framework for early detection of jellyfish and kelp blooms near nuclear power plants

The aim of the project is to assess the extended capability that BVLOS provides for early detection of marine ingress when coupled with state-of-the art statistics for the optimisation of UAS flight plans and image feature detection.

Key challenges the project will address:
  • Develop a safety case for BVLOS missions near nuclear power plants
  • Obtain Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) approval for routine BVLOS applications near nuclear power plants
  • Quantify the added benefit of BVLOS missions for marine ingress detection
  • Optimise BVLOS flight plan for purposeful data collection
  • Identify key limitations for BVLOS UAS technological uptake
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