The current situation
An identified challenge in nuclear area is the sorting of debris based on their radioactivity level, resulting from the decommissioning of fuel elements of Magnox type reactors. Nowadays, the sorting and segregation operation is mainly manually-driven and remotely-operated, as the technological efforts lack meeting the industrial quality metrics, as well as complying with the radioactive environmental regulations. Nevertheless, a human-operated process is slow and error prone when small items, such as Magnox springs, are required to be detected and picked, especially when these are covered with nuclear waste and dust.
Minotaur-R experiment’s mission is to develop an autonomous robot capable of overcoming the weaknesses of the current applied methods and technologies in nuclear waste sorting applications. The autonomous Minotaur-R system will increase the confidence over Nuclear Waste Sorting technology in nuclear industry (almost 500kg of waste processed per day), scientific and technological community, as well as in the public in general, due to the human and environmental (safe disposal or recycling of swarf in respect to their radioactivity level) protection aspects of the robotic system.
Our robotic system, consisting of a 6-axis robot on which a tailor-made gripper is mounted, will be able to detect, pick and safely deposit radioactive springs from a tray filled with Magnox debris with exceptional accuracy. Our system will take advantage of an optimized decision-making process based on readings from the integrated vision and radioactivity sensing system which will define the fastest route for spring recovery.