The purpose of this project is to research the user requirements for an articulated limbed, climbing and walking light mobile machine for use in disordered nuclear environments, and to carry out a feasibility study and prototype construction of a vehicle capable of carrying modular work packages such as manipulators, instruments, vision and navigational equipment. It will be a scorpion-like machine with a low, enclosed sealed body and articulated legs. The legs will each be fitted with grippers which will enable it to walk or climb vertically on a wide variety of surfaces. It will also be able to negotiate the transitions between planes, both internally and externally.
The project has five objectives:
1. to investigate user requirements and prepare a functional specification;
2. to make a prototype light, high-power-to-weight ratio, articulated limb climbing robot fitted with grippers for a wide variety of conditions;
3. to integrate a prototype tele-operated guidance and navigation system with a radiation resistant tele-operated control system;
4. to explore the design space for either an umbilical cable and intelligent cable reel system, or a self-powering unit with no umbilical;
5. to design and build a manipulator suited to the robot.
Research is being carried out into the user requirements for an articulated limbed, climbing and walking light mobile machine (ROBVG III) for use in disordered nuclear environments.
A functional specification has been developed with the users group, based around the published Teleman light mobile research machine outline specification. Also, a prototype leg has been designed, built and tested. In connection with this, control components suitable for high pressure pneumatic systems have been developed. These will provide the power to weight ratio required to match as far as possible the wide user requirements. A second prototype leg made of composite materials is now being produced. Leg movement profile software has been written in C and various radiation tolerant elements of the on board control system have been identified and tested. Most of the sensors have been selected and tested, and development of sensor data processing has been done. Concepts for the graphical user interface and its integration with pilot functions have been established and gripper feet have been designed for some target conditions.
The project is not due to finish until December 1995, so plans for exploitation are by no means advanced. Nevertheless, opportunities to apply the development of a multi-purpose roving vehicle are being followed up, both in nuclear industries inside and outside Europe and in non-nuclear industries within Europe, examples being petrochemical, marine, munitions, etc.
Work to be done
A single prototype leg and its control system will be manufactured and tested so that leg coordination and command communication software may be developed, before a complete robot is built. Designs for gripper feet for the limbs will be produced with special consideration to the user requirements. A light-weight manipulator suitable for mounting on the vehicle will be developed. Navigational feedback, attitude and positional sensors will be selected and developed, and data from these sensors will be processed to provide feedback via a graphical user interface. Software for specific tasks and the integration of pilot functions will be developed to provide the tele-operator with a suitable control station. A full evaluation and presentation of choices of cable management and inboard power systems will be undertaken. In addition, final year student research projects will be carried out at the Universities of Portsmouth, Kaiserslautern and Coimbra.
Once the robot chassis and sensor/navigation units have been fully tested in the laboratory, they will be integrated and functionality tests defined by the users group will be undertaken to demonstrate the vehicle in a variety of situations typical of nuclear environments. A life sized mock-up of the target situation will be made available at Nuclear Electric's existing test facilities.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
DA1 5PY Dartford
PO1 3DJ Portsmouth