The overall objective is to develop a light mobile robot which can be quickly reconfigured with different sensors or communications systems for nuclear plant inspections in normal, incident, and accident conditions. This versatile platform could be based locally at the plant and help to reduce radiation exposure of surveillance and maintenance personnel, and would enable rapid inspection in the event of an incident.
The IMPACT project has developed a lightweight inexpensive mobile robot that can be used for rapid inspection missions within the nuclear power plant. These interventions are to cover normal, incident and accident situations and aim at primary reconnaisance (or data collection missions).
The motivation behind IMPACT is to offer plant personnel an inexpensive mobile robot that could be based locally within the plant and not reserved exclusively to intervention groups.
The IMPACT robot was demonstrated in a realistic situation at a Russian nuclear plant at SMOLENSK. The following demonstration, composed of two independent but consecutive missions, was held in a radioactive zone of the plant:
Remote radiation mapping with hot spot localisation by the IMPACT robot equipped with a directional gamma radiation sensor.
Construction of a protective lead shield around one of the identified hot spots and verification that the amount of ambient radiation had been reduced. This mission was executed remotely by two mobile robots working in collaboration (ie a Russian interventon robot equipped with a manipulator arm carrying lead bricks and the IMPACT robot of the first mission.
Work to be done
Two mobile three-segmented robots will be developed, one in a basic version, the other with more advanced navigation and control capabilities. The detachable third segment can act as a relay station to transmit control and sensor signals between the base station and the mobile platform. The tasks can be divided into three areas:
i) The mobile platform
The basic platform will be fitted with multiple miniature cameras to aid teleoperation. The advanced platform will be equipped with an add-on navigation support system module to provide the operator with semi-autonomous functions such as automatic reverse in the event of loss of communications, camera drive, auto-centring in corridors and doorways, obstacle avoidance, and stair climbing. The multiple robots will cooperate to perform a mission and will also be able to rescue a stranded partner robot.
ii) Environment inspection and CAD modelling
Two different inspection methods will be developed. Firstly, data fusion of inputs from CCD cameras, temperature, radiation imaging, and scanning range-finder sensors will give a rapid, non-CAD model for preliminary inspection and problem identification. Then digital photogrammetry will give an accurate CAD/PDMS model for detailed intervention planning and execution. Both systems will operate on the same work station so the CAD geometrical model can be enriched with superimposed temperature and radiation fields.
Communications and sensor signals will be transmitted without an umbilical cable using line of sight microwave and laser systems. The third platform segment will relay signals beyond the direct line of sight of the base station.
Free space and obstacle mapping with a laser range finder will be performed in collaboration with the PIAP Institute, Warsaw, Poland. In addition, final year student research projects will be carried out at the Universities of Loughborough, Delft, and University College London.
The mobile robots will be tested at the start, mid-term, and end of the project in French, Spanish, and (former East) German nuclear power plants, and their ease of use and suitability will be assessed by actual plant personnel from the nuclear users in the project.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
91191 Gif Sur Yvette
2628 CK Delft
WC1E 6BT London