OC Robotics and TWI Ltd (Cambridge) have received funding from the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) to jointly produce a feasibility study on incorporating a high power laser into a snake-arm robot. This new project, known as LaserSnake, will be the first of its kind and will demonstrate the application of snake-arm robotics combined with specialist end effectors.
An OC Robotics Explorer snake-arm robot will be incorporated with a 5kW laser fibre and a state-of-the-art TWI focusing optic to enable the remote size reduction of objects in confined spaces where it would either be very difficult or practically impossible for a human to enter.
The snake-arm is designed to have a high tolerance to radiation, and using a suitable fiber LaserSnake would be capable of working for long periods within a radioactive environment. The complete robot drive system designed by OC Robotics and laser source provided by TWI remains outside the containment in an accessible area, remotely controlled from a safe distance.
By combining OC Robotics’ specialist knowledge of snake-arm robotics and TWI’s expertise in manufacturing, fabrication and repair technologies the LaserSnake project will lead to innovative solutions to tasks in radioactive and conventional confined spaces for a range of industries.
A variation of OC Robotics Explorer snake-arm (left) will be coupled to a TWI 5kW laser (right) to produce LaserSnake
OC Robotics has been developing snake-arm robots for 10 years. The exceptional ability of snake-arm robots to manoeuvre into otherwise inaccessible spaces makes them valuable in a large number of applications in high-value industrial markets. OC Robotics has delivered robots and has provided consultancy and analysis for industries spanning, amongst others, nuclear, aerospace and security. In addition to its commercial success, OC Robotics has won several awards including the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the Innovation category in 2009.
The Technology Strategy Board is a business-led executive non-departmental public body, established by the government. Its role is to promote and support research into, and development and exploitation of, technology and innovation for the benefit of UK business, in order to increase economic growth and improve the quality of life. It is sponsored by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS). For further information please visit www.innovateuk.org.
Friday, May 6, 2011