Radiation tolerance of a small COTS single board computer for mobile robots

Andrew West, Jordan Knapp, Barry Lennox, Steve Walters, Stephen Watts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As robotics become more sophisticated, there are a growing number of generic systems being used for routine tasks in nuclear environments to reduce risk to radiation workers. The nuclear sector has called for more commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) devices and components to be used in preference to nuclear specific hardware, enabling robotic operations to become more affordable, reliable, and abundant. To ensure reliable operation in nuclear environments, particularly in high-gamma facilities, it is important to quantify the tolerance of electronic systems to ionizing radiation. To deliver their full potential to end-users, mobile robots require sophisticated autonomous behaviors and sensing, which requires significant computational power. A popular choice of computing system, used in low-cost mobile robots for nuclear environments, is the UP Core single board computer. This work presents estimates of the total ionizing dose that the UP Core running the Robot Operating System (ROS) can withstand, through gamma irradiation testing using a Co-60 source. The units were found to fail on average after 111.1 ± 5.5 Gy, due to faults in the on-board power management circuitry. Its small size and reasonable radiation tolerance make it a suitable candidate for robots in nuclear environments, with scope to use shielding to enhance operational lifetime.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2198-2203
Number of pages6
JournalNuclear Engineering and Technology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


  • Mobile robot
  • Nuclear inspection
  • Radiation effects
  • Robot operating system
  • Total ionizing dose
  • Irradiation


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