A robotic inspection experimental system (ARIES) and BOA Page: 11 of 192
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The ARIES robotic drum inspection robot designed by Cybermotion, Inc. was assessed
for "human factors" by a team from the Operating Engineers National Hazmat Program.
ARIES was developed for the Department of Energy (DOE) to remove the worker from
the potentially hazardous environment encountered during the routine inspection of
drums used to store radioactive waste. There are currently over 315,000 drum
equivalents of Mixed, Tru-Mixed, and Low-Level waste accumulated at DOE sites.
Mixed waste, due to its hazardous constituents, is covered under the Resource
Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) regulations which outline a requirement for a
weekly inspection of drums and facilities. In addition, DOE and Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) requirements mandate regular inspections.
At the present time, workers walk through the aisles where the drums are stored and
visually inspect the drums for discoloration, paint blisters, dents, bulging, and rusting.
This is a less than efficient method to conduct inspections and creates the potential to
expose workers to radioactive waste. The robot will roam the aisles of 55-gallon drums,
stacked three high, making decisions about the surface condition of the drums and
maintaining a database of information about each drum. The robot will locate and
identify each drum, characterize relevant surface features, and update a database
containing inspection information. A camera positioning system positions the vision
camera and any other required instrumentation packages (bar-code reader, etc.) to
perform the inspection process for each drum. It is anticipated that the mobile robot
system will improve the quality of inspection and generate required reports in addition to
relieving workers from potential low-level radioactive exposure and contamination
hazards. Workers will be required for computer operations, maintenance of the system
and its components, and decontamination, when necessary.
The robot itself does not generate any airborne hazards that require exposure
monitoring. Exposure monitoring requirements will be dependent on the environment
where ARIES is operating. This will need to be determined by the site characterization
and air monitoring plan.
The use of sealed lead-acid batteries to power the robot presents an exposure potential
for workers. Under normal circumstances there should not be any exposure to the
hazardous constituents of the battery but the potential for exposure to lead and lead
contaminated sulfuric acid must be realized and proper precautions must be used. This
may include handling the batteries utilizing personal protective equipment (PPE), when
appropriate, training personnel in the hazards associated with lead-acid batteries, and
proper storage and waste disposal. Additionally, there is the possibility of the
production of hydrogen gas during the charging of lead-acid batteries. Due to the
flammable and explosive properties of hydrogen, this needs to be taken into
consideration when the location of the charging station is chosen.
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A robotic inspection experimental system (ARIES) and BOA, report, February 1, 1998; United States. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc711600/m1/11/: accessed April 20, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.