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Drone-Based Groundwater Contamination Monitoring System Launched
May 15, 2018

Hangar6, the Triangle region’s only advanced rapid prototyping lab, which is based at First Flight Venture Center (FFVC), a high-science, high-impact incubator in Research Triangle Park, N.C. has announced one of the first projects to be completed at its new facility. The work at Hangar6 is part of a proposed project by Goldfinch Sensor Technologies and Analytics LLC, an FFVC incubator company, to develop a drone-based radiation monitoring system to detect potential groundwater contamination near nuclear weapons facilities and coal-burning power plants.

According to Goldfinch Sensor’s President Dr. Mark Roberson, the 3-D printing capabilities and expertise at Hangar6 enabled the development of a first prototype custom lightweight bracket to integrate the company’s specialized radiation detector into the airframe of a small unmanned aircraft system (sUAS), which can then be flown over potential contamination sites to monitor and report radiation levels.

The overall project is designed to demonstrate the feasibility of integrating drone monitoring of radiation with advanced geographic information systems for spatiotemporal analysis of residual radiation. The initial phases of the project involve developing a lightweight sensor to detect X-rays and gamma radiation, and then integrating this sensor subsystem into the drone airframe.

FFVC formally launched the Hangar6 facility with an open house event on February 20, 2018, to showcase the equipment, capabilities, and services of the Triangle region’s only shared advanced prototyping facility designed to meet the needs of science and technology businesses. The Hangar6 facility is designed to have an ongoing, self-sustaining source of funding through subscription fees for use of the equipment, as well as sponsorship opportunities for companies that offer resources and services needed by companies engaged in the prototyping process. FFVC is actively seeking equipment suppliers and other vendors to participate in the Hangar6 program.

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