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MallARD: An Autonomous Aquatic Surface Vehicle for Inspection and Monitoring of Wet Nuclear Storage Facilities

School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, The University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL, UK
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Robotics 2019, 8(2), 47; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics8020047
Received: 31 March 2019 / Revised: 21 May 2019 / Accepted: 14 June 2019 / Published: 18 June 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Robotics in Extreme Environments)
Inspection and monitoring of wet nuclear storage facilities such as spent fuel pools or wet silos is performed for a variety of reasons, including nuclear security and characterisation of storage facilities prior to decommissioning. Until now such tasks have been performed by personnel or, if the risk to health is too high, avoided. Tasks are often repetitive, time-consuming and potentially dangerous, making them suited to being performed by an autonomous robot. Previous autonomous surface vehicles (ASVs) have been designed for operation in natural outdoor environments and lack the localisation and tracking accuracy necessary for operation in a wet nuclear storage facility. In this paper the environmental and operational conditions are analysed, applicable localisation technologies selected and a unique aquatic autonomous surface vehicle (ASV) is designed and constructed. The ASV developed is holonomic, uses a LiDAR for localisation and features a robust trajectory tracking controller. In a series of experiments the mean error between the present ASV’s planned path and the actual path is approximately 1 cm, which is two orders of magnitude lower than previous ASVs. As well as lab testing, the ASV has been used in two deployments, one of which was in an active spent fuel pool. View Full-Text
Keywords: ASV; unmanned surface vehicle; autonomous surface vehicle; USV; nuclear fuel storage; spent fuel pool; extreme environment; nuclear robotics ASV; unmanned surface vehicle; autonomous surface vehicle; USV; nuclear fuel storage; spent fuel pool; extreme environment; nuclear robotics
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Groves, K.; West, A.; Gornicki, K.; Watson, S.; Carrasco, J.; Lennox, B. MallARD: An Autonomous Aquatic Surface Vehicle for Inspection and Monitoring of Wet Nuclear Storage Facilities. Robotics 2019, 8, 47.

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