Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Boston Dynamics Spot Measured Background Radiation in Chernobyl Exclusion Zone (ukrinform.ua)
61 points by app4soft 3 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 37 comments

I'm happy to see technology used in this way. Sadly, the article provides no bottom line numbers. Perhaps keep an eye out in the mid-term future for articles regarding the "University of Bristol" and "Chernobyl". In the final paragraph, we learn that funds have been cut to programs in the area, leading one to imagine that 1) this is how the door was opened for the University of Bristol project and 2) we got suckered into a HN slashvertisement promoting Boston Dynamics.

Boston Dynamics vs. SpaceX on HN now is "1:1" ;)

In case anyone else needs a google translated link: https://translate.googleusercontent.com/translate_c?depth=1&...

Here is better link (sl=uk;tl=en)[0]

[0] https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=uk&tl=en&u=h...

It appears this is more celebrity news about our favorite dog having been there, not anything actually interesting or new about the radiation at chernobyl.

> According to the results of the works, 3D images and radionuclide activity distribution maps will be obtained at Pidlisne and Buryakivka. Researchers also promise to provide images of the Red Forest item with high-dose areas. The performed works will allow SSE "CPPRV" to update the maps of radiation pollution distribution.

If only they had the robotics we have today for the initial clean-up process. I'm not saying the robots wouldn't have died from radiation, but better a robot discover a high source of radiation to its peril than a human.

It seems clear to me that autonomous systems will be the only way to go in such scenarios - most types of external communication are near impossible and the situation itself can be dynamic.

I've occasionally seen some very awesome work come out of Japan and the Fukushima nuclear cleanup process. Fingers crossed we can advance robotics far enough for the devastating scenario where they are really needed.

They did use robots leftover from the Lunokhod lunar exploration program and a robot sent by West Germany, however the radiation level was so high that they failed almost immediately. They had to resort to using "biorobots", as they cynically called the soldiers used to clean up the site. I'm not sure if modern robots would fare any better due to their higher complexity and use of lots of electronics which is sensitive to radiation.

I don't know if it possible to have advanced robots is such high-rad environments. The inspector-bots in Fukushima, although supposedly rad-hardened, all failed quickly. I agree it would be ideal if possible.


You mentioned good work coming from the Fukushima site cleanup effort. Do you have any links? I'd love to read about what successes they've had after the initial problems with the ones discussed above.

I’m curious. Which of the parts back in the day would have failed first and why? And which of the parts would have continued functioning despite radiation?

Computers fail first because the memory content gets corrupted. I can imagine, that power electronics will continue functioning despite radiation.

Apparently regular MOSFETs are affected[1] by the total dose of ionizing radition (TDI) causing important parameters to change, such as threshold voltage (Vgt) and internal resistance (Rds).

So it seems even power electronics are not safe[2], nor microcontrollers/microprocessors and other types of ICs.

[1]: https://nepp.nasa.gov/files/28954/2017-Lauenstein-NSREC-Post... (esp. figure 11)

[2]: https://www.renesas.com/eu/en/products/space-harsh-environme...

Thank you, signed for Renesas newsletter. Very interesting topics.

I think that with modern fiber-optics it might be possible to make a really long robot arm without any sensitive circuits at the extremity.

I'm not sure how fibre optics could help here, an you expand?

They're describing running the computers 100's of meters away with fibre to the robot. But it won't help with motor encoders and sensors that all must be onboard.

Interesting idea though. To some degree is probably possible. No such thing as a rad hardened cmos though

I think the idea is to have a passive bundle of fiber at the far end with all your electronics in the safe zone, like a fiber optic endoscope.

Why couldn't the necessary electronics be shielded with a shroud of lead? It's not like these robots have lunar weight requirements.

Spalling/scatter. In certain radiation environments, shielding makes things worse, as an energetic particle can cause a knock-on flood of even more damaging particles to be emitted if strikes an atom in the shield. Ultimately more mass does help, but we're talking meters-thick, not just another few cm.

The details are a lot more complicated than that. It's just worth keeping in mind that for any given radiation environment, there may be times when either more or less shielding would be a better choice, as counterintuitive as that may seem.

It isn't quite possible to create a robot capable of working in 15,000-20,000 r/h fields. Less so in 1986.

I don’t understand why you’d need a Boston Dynamics nightmare dog when you could fly a drone. Also, although there are problematic pockets, my understanding is that most of the zone is relatively these days.

Raising radioactive dust is something to avoid. Chernobyl zone can be dry especially in summer month. In addition, dog is uniquely positioned for indoors explorations of inside of sarcophagus - not only it is super dusty, but it is much harder to fly the drone indoors.

> dog is uniquely positioned for indoors explorations of inside of sarcophagus

Is that possible with such radiation levels? Strong radiation kills most electronics in the blink of an eye.

1) because you want to show off the nightmare dog in a practical scenario to attract funding

2) radio communication doesn’t work in high radiation environments

It's a product already for sale so I guess 1) is close, but more to attract sales. 2) There is no problems with radio communications anywhere but in the core of a running reactor (also dependant on the wavelength if you want to use it almost in the core).

They're selling a toy for the wealthy but know that market is limited so they arrange for stunts like this to convince people that it's good for something other than impressing Jeff Bezos' friends at parties.

If 2) was a problem it would be even bigger for the dog.

I went to a talk by one of the head researchers from Bristol. They usually use fixed wing drones (https://research-information.bris.ac.uk/ws/portalfiles/porta...) and then any detailed areas can go over with multi rotors . I’m not quite sure what the application of the ground robot is, there isn’t much publication out there yet. However, I would imagine it could allow for identification of individual radioactive objects, without throwing up radioactive dust, and for radioactive mapping indoors.

According to TFA, they did use aerial drones as well.

1) The dog is perfectly suited to perform spectrometry in the woods of the Red Forest. 2) Dust. Almost the only major source of danger in the Zone to this day.

Otherwise, drones are fine.

PSA: The site redirects me to a malware advertisement for a sketchy VPN app.

That is off-topic, but you may report any issues to UKRINFORM team directly.[0]

[0] https://www.ukrinform.net/info/contacts.html

I watched an hours long video of a daredevil/stalker with a guide. Sometimes the levels go insanely high. What I am curious about: are radiation levels crowdsourced anywhere?

Maybe a this is'nt English warning?

Now, do this for Hunter's Point in San Francisco, CA.

Is that really still contaminated? I see a lot of new apartments going in there.

No one is really sure, which is a pretty unsatisfactory answer. The original radiation measurements were performed with a gamma spectrometer mounted on a helicopter, which is not useful for finding radioactive contamination in the ground - and the officials who knew this at the time, yet claimed the site was clean, are now in a lot of trouble.


Side note, Treasure Island also has, or had, a pretty serious radioactivity contamination. I've measured slightly elevated emissions there myself, as a matter of fact.

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact