Experimental evaluation and characterization of radioactive source effects on robot visual localization and mapping

Elijah S. Lee, Giuseppe Loianno, Dinesh Thakur, Vijay Kumar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Robots are ideally suited to performing simple tasks in dangerous environments. In this letter, we address the use of robots for inspection of nuclear reactors which may be contaminated by radiation. The geometry of a reactor vessel is three-dimensional with significant clutter. Accordingly, we propose the use of small-scale, flying robots that are able to localize themselves and autonomously navigate around obstacles. Because of the constraints on size, we rely on cameras which are the best low power and lightweight sensors. However, cameras perform poorly in the presence of radioactivity and the impact of radiation on robotics systems is not well understood. In this letter, we (a) analyze the effects of radioactive sources on camera sensors, affecting localization and mapping algorithms, (b) quantify these effects from a statistical viewpoint according to different source intensities; and (c) compare different solutions to mitigate these effects. Our analysis is supported and validated by experimental data collected on a Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) camera sensor exposed to radioactive sources in a hot cell.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9006942
Pages (from-to)3259-3266
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Robotics and Automation Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2020


  • Robotics in hazardous fields
  • aerial systems
  • applications

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Control and Optimization
  • Artificial Intelligence


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