Politecnico di Torino - Corso Duca degli Abruzzi, 24 - 10129 Torino, ITALY

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Emitting source localizationHaptics-based teleoperationPollution detectionRobot-based explorationRoboticsRPAS guidance


Efficient substance emission localization by means of a mobile robot (e.g. aerial) equipped with substance detector and teleguided by human operator. Substance intensity is processed in real-time and returned to the operator through a haptic interface (force feedback). The operator perceives a force opposing to commands that deviate the robot motion from the direction of maximum intensity thereby easing guidance toward the source of emission.

Technical features

Localization of a polluting source is based on a real-time, on-board measurement of substance intensity which is returned to the operator via a haptic interface (force- feedback device) thereby supplementing the human visual and auditory perceptual channels. A prototype consisting of an aerial robot, a Gamma radiation sensor and a haptic guidance interface has been demonstrated in a waste landfill as well as in an industrial facility hosting an Ir192 radioactive source (under supervision of the Environmental Safety Agency). The emitting source was in a position not visible to the operator (at approx. 30 m) and was localized with an error below 2 m exclusively relying on haptic feedback. Tests have assessed further advantages provided by the haptic feedback, including the speedup in localizing unknown emitting sources and the reduction in operator’s mental fatigue often arising in robot teleoperation.

Possible Applications

  • Monitoring operations in customs, waste landfills, warehouses;
  • Rapid assessment in emergency situations, with detection of dangerous emissions after CBRN events;
  • Search & rescue operations;
  • Efficient search of polluting emissions and EM radiation sources;
  • Localization of gaseous spills and emissions.


  • Remote monitoring and detection of polluting or radiating sources without operator safety hazards;
  • Fast, accurate localization of emitting sources;
  • Efficient exploration, combining operator’s and system intelligence;
  • Optimized UAV flight time;
  • Decreased mental load on the operator, fewer errors likey to occur.