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Nuclear sort & seg. problem
• Cleanup of “legacy” nuclear waste is largest environmental remediation project in whole of Europe.
– UK has 1.4million cubic metres of intermediate level waste (ILW) alone.
– At a single UK site (Sellafield), 69,600 cubic metres of ILW waste will have to be placed into 179,000 storage containers in near future.
• Much of this was stored decades ago, in containers with unknown contents and mixed contamination levels.
– Old containers must be cut open.
– Their contents must be examined, sorted and separated.
– Highly contaminated waste must be extracted and placed into special new storage containers.
• This poses an enormous challenge for remote manipulation.
– Waste comprises a vast array of objects and materials, with a vast complexity of shapes, appearances, properties.
– Each object must be recognised, identified, grasped and manipulated.
– Tangled objects must be pulled apart.
– Perhaps by bimanual manipulation.
– Current state of the art is either 1960s style mechanical MSM devices, or tele-operated arms typically controlled joint-by-joint by human operator.
• Hypothesis - required throughput rates cannot be achieved safely and efficiently without:
– Increased autonomy .
– Enhanced tele-presence, force-reflection and bi-lateral feedback, HRI, and situational awareness.
– A new generation of robot hardware is needed.
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