CMU's Snake Robot in Nuclear Inspection Applications

CMU's Snake Robot in Nuclear Inspection Applications

You might have heard about robots many times. And now it's a turn for snake robot which have been developed around the world many times. Earlier this year Carnegie Mellon University's Biorobotics Lab put its modular snake robot's practicality to the test in an abandoned nuclear power plant, where it provided clear, well-lit images from the inside of pipes.

Austria's Zwentendorf nuclear power plant is the perfect testing ground for inspection robots. The plant was built in the 1970s but was never turned on, so there's no radiation to worry about. That makes it the next best thing to an operational plant, with a multitude of tricky pipes to explore.

The modular snake robot climbs a pipe inside the Zwentendorf nuclear power plant

Certain areas of nuclear power plants or nuclear waste storage locations are highly radioactive and cannot be safely accessed by people. While a variety of conventional robots have been developed to help provide access to radioactive locations, there are still limitations to where these robots can access and move. Snakelike robots' size and maneuverability could provide access to otherwise unreachable locations within these radioactive environments. In particular, these robots could address the challenge of inspecting inside of dry storage casks, waste storage tanks, piping within nuclear power plants or waste vitrification plants, or in other radioactive locations. The robot's ability to swim could also enable them to perform underwater tasks such as spent fuel pool inspection or reaching locations within boiling water reactors.

miles of pipes are difficult to inspect and hence inspected by Snake Robot

The robot, which is just 2 in (5 cm) in diameter and 37 in (97 cm) long, has 16 joints allowing it to move a bit like a snake. The body can twist around a cylindrical shape, such a leg, to climb up and down. The only problem is it's tethered by a power and control cable. In this experiment the team was hesitant to explore much beyond 18 meters (60 ft), but it could go much further.

The robot's wide range of locomotion capabilities allow it to remotely access radioactive environments, while keeping workers away from harmful radiation.

Snake Robot  is just 2 in (5 cm) in diameter and 37 in (97 cm) long, has 16 joints allowing it to move a bit like a snake.

The robots can squeeze through small openings to access tanks or storage casks. This enables remote visual inspection (RVI) or nondestructive testing (NDE) without the need to cut into the equipment or open the radioactive cask.

Modular snake robot can climb trees or explore pipes


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Write by: RC - Wednesday, July 10, 2013

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