Robotics for Nuclear Material Handling at LANL:Capabilities and Needs Page: 5 of 10
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NDA was selected as the first process module to be
automated for several reasons. First, it operates outside the
glovebox environment and therefore enabled the robotic
technology to be evaluated in a readily accessible and
maintainable environment with minimal programmatic risk.
Second, the tasks performed by the NDA module are highly
repetitive and primarily involve the movement of well-defined
objects between well-defined locations. Tasks of this type
generally are easy to automate and serve as an excellent
demonstration for the potential of automation. Finally, the
measurement times involved with the three instruments are
significant and thus it is highly desirable for NDA to operate
around the clock and without immediate human supervision.
Automation was able to meet these needs within and has
contributed to the success of the NDA module. This success led
to the decision to deploy additional automation systems within
3.3. DISASSEMBLY MODULE
The robot used in the Disassembly module, Fig. 5, uses a
gantry robot design similar to that used by the NDA module.
The Pit-D robot consists of three commercial axes, and a
custom LANL-designed 2-DOF wrist, shown in Fig. 6. Several
grippers were also designed by LANL to handle the tooling and
chucks for a custom designed Moore lathe and the components
to be processed by the Pit-D module.
Figure 5. The ARIES Disassembly Module with and without
the glovebox shown.
Unlike the NDA system, the Pit-D robot operates within a
glovebox and consequently additional consideration was given
to the maintenance needs and potential failure modes of the
robot. Many of these potential events were explored through
computer simulations before the design was completed
[McQueen, 2001; Foster, 2001].
Simulations of the workspace properties of the robot were
of particular importance in this module as the Pit-D robot
shares its workspace with an automated Moore lathe and
customized tool changer which add an additional 5-DOF to the
system. Simulation allowed these systems to be placed in
proximity to each other and to identify the potential collision
locations early in the design process. In addition, all three
automation systems share a common control system (an
Aerotech U-600) whose operation was explored in simulation.
An example of the simulations is shown in Fig. 7 [McQueen,
2001; Foster, 2001].
Connection to Y axis 1
on glovebox ceiling -
Figure 6. LANL Designed Pit-D wrist and gripper.
Figure 7. Simulations of the AR'
Simulation also played a critical role in the installation of
the Disassembly module. The automated version of this module
was a system upgrade to the original ARIES glovebox line and
replaced a previous system. Consequently, the new system and
glovebox had to be moved into the facility and the room that
contains the ARIES glovebox line and around various
horizontal and vertical obstacles that lie along the installation
route. Considering that the system and glovebox weighs several
Copyright 2009 by ASME
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Harden, Troy A; Lloyd, Jane A & Turner, Cameron J. Robotics for Nuclear Material Handling at LANL:Capabilities and Needs, article, January 1, 2009; [New Mexico]. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc934538/m1/5/: accessed May 25, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.