LaserSnake - Nuclear Decommissioing
In 2011 OC Robotics led a collaborative project with TWI Ltd as part of a UK Technology Strategy Board competition for nuclear R&D feasibility studies.
For this study a snake-arm robot was combined with a 5kW laser to enable a selective, remote-controlled approach to dismantling and decommissioning complex structures in hazardous and confined nuclear environments.
A 2.5m long, 100mm diameter self-supporting snake-arm robot with integrated navigation camera and lighting was adapted to carry the laser cutting head. The snake-arm control system co-ordinated tip motion with the laser control to cut a variety of different substrates.
LaserSnake was operated in a mock-up through a 1m long, 200mm diameter penetration that simulates a cell wall. Inside the mock-up was a representative vessel and pipe work. The snake-arm cut a hole in the vessel wall to allow it access beyond. From here the snake-arm avoided obstacle and pre-programmed cutting paths were used to cut the target pipes.
More information on LaserSnake and other nuclear applications, can be found in OC Robotics' Nuclear Case Studies.