In a recent study, University of Manchester Post-Doctoral Research Assistant Andrew West is focusing on total characterisation for remote observation in nuclear environments. In other words, West is putting lasers on robots to find out what objects are made of in places humans shouldn’t go.

Current characterization methods allow researchers to know the elemental composition of certain materials. But using a technique known as Raman spectroscopy, West is able to garner more findings. Raman spectroscopy uses a low power laser and a sensitive spectrometer, and is able to identify chemical bonds. For this instrument, it is important that the robots transporting the lasers are modified to be as small and as lightweight as possible, in order to reach difficult places. Also, the robots are controlled manually until the operator is satisfied with the mapping and autonomous control is permitted, which ensures a full understanding of the environments being mapped. The Jackal was a good fit in this scenario because it is small, lightweight, and weatherproof, and could withstand the extreme environments.

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