One of the challenges in nuclear area is the sorting of debris, resulting from the decommissioning offuel elements of Magnox type reactors. According to this challenge, the main objective of the Minotaur-R project is the development of an autonomous robotic system capable of detecting, picking and placing High Radioactive Magnox springs, which are scattered among other radioactive (Low or Medium) nuclear debris, on a separate tray to be finally stored in dry lead containers. During the past 9 months of technical solution development and testing we reached the target of TRL6. The key enabling technologies used and the procured off-the-shelf componentsare outlined in this updated project’s summary. The summary will be used during project for communication and promotional purposes aligned with the actions outlined in the business plan.
Minotaur-R’s teammission is to develop an autonomous robot capable of overcoming the weaknesses of the current applied methods and technologies in nuclear waste sorting applications. IKH, a high-tech company with over 25 successful robotics and automation projects to its credit, will delivera TRL8 pick & place solutionof springs scattered amongdebris resulting from the decommissioning of fuel elements of Magnox type reactors. Theproposed outcome will be gradually achieved in twoPhases.
IKHdeveloped and validated a TRL6 prototypein relevant environment during Phase I, as represented in Figure 1. The robotic systemis a package of off-the-shelf components and broadertechnology enablersredefined for the specific challenge area and is currently able to exhibit high detection, picking and deposition performance indicators.Minotaur-Rsystem’s basis is a 6-axis industrial robot–the sorting process and enablers are independent of robot type or make. Minotaur-R can alsouse any type of scara, X-Y-Z-Thetarobotsandemploysthe following enabling technologies.
– Proprietary vision systemto detect fully or partially visible springsbased on their shape -not colour-using an RGB depth camera,
– Adaptive path planningcustom, PC-based software(Generates robot coordinates based on vision detection, Vision frame to robot frame calibration tool, Vision boundaries determination tool, Robot workspace determination tool, Robot movement and process sequencing, Handling of peripherals),
– Spring Gripping systemto pick nonor partially occluded springthrough the grasping fingers and for handling of the tools through the interfacing fingers,
– Metal detectorsimulating the radioactivity sensor to detect fully hidden springs,•Debris Grasping systemto pick hidden springs along with debriscomprising of avibration motor to reshuffle the debris and reveal possible occluded springs,
– Secondary traywith internal edge wedges to prevent springs accumulation in the boundaries, equipped with apneumatic actuated tipping mechanism to deposit the debris back inside the main tray. Used to place debrisdepositedby the debris grasping toolso as toidentify hidden springs.
– Collision detection systemto compensate for uneven distribution of swarf inside the trayby providing highly accurate linear motion, Z (depth) axis compliance, end-of travel detection, soft bump stops in both the upper and lower limits