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.