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Telerobotic equipment aids in cleanup activities


Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are developing robotics technology that can aid in the cleanup of hazardous waste sites while helping to protect humans from serious injury in the process.

The telerobotic manipulation system enables cleanup efforts to be conducted remotely from a distant location, performing chores that would have to otherwise be done on site by humans.

Developed by the Department of Energy’s Robotics Crosscutting program, the system may be used in the future to clean up hazardous waste sites under DOE’s jusrisdiction and may have additional future uses for various cleanup tasks.

The compact remote control console, which is the front end of the system, provides the operator with the ability to manipulate the telerobot that performs the actual cleanup work.

It includes four monitors for remote task viewing, two touch screen-based graphical user interface computers, a telerobotic control computer and hand controllers to command the robot manipulator to complete cleanup tasks.

The compact console was developed by DOE specifically to control costs related to deploying remote systems while maintaining a control room level of capability. Several compact consoles have been used around the United States for various cleanup tasks. The compact console component of the telerobotic manipulation system is now available commercially from Agile Engineering of Knoxville.

The telerobotics part of the system combines human input (teleoperation) and robotics automation – hence telerobotics – to complete cleanup tasks. The current focus is plasma arc cutting of metal structures to dismantle contaminated equipment.

Testing of the equipment comes during a time when there is an increasing need for remote systems and robotics for cleanup of DOE facilities.

ORNL is a multiprogram science and technology laboratory managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy.

Fred Strohl | EurekAlert!
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