A new robot combines the skills and tools of multiple robots and offers new capacities to ease the tasks involved with nuclear dismantling. This new development complements the capacity for the use of robotics in nuclear cleaning and dismantling work.
It is considered a true technological achievement since it has a complete and integral system that combines the capacities and tools of many robots
The robot, called "MAESTRO", was developed by the French Atomic Energy Commission (CEA). It is considered a true technological achievement since it has a complete and integral system that combines the capacities and tools of many robots.
Over ten years of research and cooperation with the robotics company Cybernetix have resulted in a control robot arm (the "maestro" arm) and a remote robot arm (or "slave" arm). They are manipulated from a control room by two operators, with the guidance of videos of the environment to be dismantled combined with 3D simulations.
This robots makes laser cuts several centimeters wide on the thick steel structures of the containment tanks
Precision and strength
Early in 2016, "MAESTRO" started its operations at the plutonium extraction plant, making laser cuts on dissolution tanks for reprocessing. These tanks represent a challenge for dismantling operators: apart from the high level of residual radioactivity behind the nearly one meter thick concrete walls, their great size and weight, their low visibility and, thus, the "blind" work that must be done, present large restrictions for which "MAESTRO" provides an adequate solution. This robots makes laser cuts several centimeters wide on the thick steel structures of the containment tanks. According to CEA, this operation sets down a true world precedent.
The laser process has been chosen because it allows high reliability and productivity and its aerosol emissions are lower from mot other thermal cutting processes. It also makes it possible to limit waste generation.
This new generation of robots for nuclear applications adds to the other existing prototypes that are in use in plants around the world, such as "TELEMAN 44", "Messina", "Quince" and others. They have proven to be of great use for cleaning and dismantling tasks in areas with a high degree of radioactive contamination.