Development of mobile platform for inventory and inspection applications in nuclear environments
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The efforts made towards deploying a mobile robotic system at Los Alamos National Laboratory are detailed in this thesis. The platform application is non-contact tasks related to inspection, inventory, and radiation surveying. It is intended for a Special Nuclear Material storage facility featuring a high radiation environment and a variety of storage modes. New robotic capabilities have been developed using several mobile platforms to address the requirements of this application. Many of challenges are common to any warehouse application, such as autonomous task planning, vision, navigation, and inventory data management. Others are specific to a nuclear laboratory environment, such as radiation measurement and analysis, response to radioactive contamination, criticality safety, and restrictive security measures. This thesis describes the progress made towards meeting these challenges, outstanding issues, and future work that is necessary to complete the project. Nuclear facilities are under ever-increasing demands to reduce worker radiation exposure. Since the vault is a high radiation area, it is one of the first targets at Los Alamos for the application of novel solutions. The deployment of this system promises to enhance worker safety by reducing their presence inside the vault and therefore total occupational dose. As robotic systems become more trusted in the nuclear weapons complex, it also has the potential to reduce total operator labor by performing time-consuming tasks autonomously.