A drone to detect asbestos


A drone aimed at detecting asbestos in the environment was presented last Sunday in Rome, by the Italian National Research Council (CNR), along with Aermatica, manufacturer of remotely piloted aircrafts (RPA).

The initiative is promoted by the Counsellor for the Environment of Rome, together with Aci Consult, a company that is specialized in advanced services for traffic and the environment, and the Italian Association of the Exposed to Asbestos (Associazione Italiana Esposti all’Amianto – AIEA).

A hyperspectral sensor and a compact camera were integrated into the drone. During the flight the hyperspectral sensor detects the frequencies issued by the surface and identifies the specific one of asbestos, its “signature”, the presence and state of deterioration that allow to establish priorities for the removal. Aci Consult organizes the overflight and mapping; the areas involved are indicated by the city Council; Aermatica collects all the data acquired by the drone and delivers it to CNR, which analyses the data and draws up the final report. All this happens with a significant lower cost compared to using aircrafts with crew.

Any prolonged exposure to asbestos can cause serious breathing problems. This “fiber-killer” attacks human lungs. In Italy there are 4 thousand deaths per year among workers who have suffered significant exposure to asbestos.

The drone is expected to start operations in Rome in the spring of 2015.