ITER Remote Handling Standard Work Cell

Background

ITER is an international project at the forefront of the search to create nuclear fusion, the process that powers our sun, on earth. Its goal is to generate a ratio of fusion power to input power >= to 10. To do this the ITER machine will generate high energy neutrons that will activate the machine making manned maintenance impossible. The ITER project therefore relies on full remote handling both in-vessel and ex-vessel for future upgrades and maintenance.

Oxford Technologies has been involved with the ITER project since its inception as a result of our heritage at the EUROfusion project, Culham.

Objectives

Through a framework agreement held by Jacobs, Oxford Technologies was tasked under 3 contracts to:

  1. Perform evaluation studies of ‘off –the-shelf’ parts for use within the RH Control System.
  2. Create a standard distributable platform for the remote handling control system application development
  3. To validate the concept of a standard RH control room Work-Cell. Achieved by demonstrating the effectiveness of the standard Work-Cell with a sample range of ITER RH tasks and by implementing human factor guidelines for the safe and efficient operation of RH equipment.

Challenges

These contracts provided the basis for the RH Control Room. The required diverse range of skills, knowledge and experience to deliver this project was extensive, and included:

  • Software development
  • Robotics
  • Control systems
  • Remote Handling engineering
  • Remote Handling operational experience
  • Human factors
  • 3D CAD modelling
  • Virtual reality simulations
  • Control of kinematically dissimilar devices
  • Master – Slave telemanipulation
  • Electrical and electronic engineering
  • In depth knowledge of the ITER machine and the baseline remote handling equipment
  • Knowledge of the ITER CODAC system

Solution

Oxford Technologies brought together a range of in-house experts and specialist sub-contractors to meet the requirements of this challenging project. Working closely with the client we evaluated a wide range of low-level and high-level software and hardware components and sub-systems from across Europe to produce the final list of ‘standard parts’. Elements that were not readily available were developed under this contract including robot middleware and RH libraries for robot control.

An RH ‘Core System’ that would form the basis of a standard distributable platform based on real-time Linux was developed that complied with all the ‘standard parts’. This was then implemented on a run time platform for final testing.

Creation of the Remote Handling Control Room Work-Cell, brought together the previous work on ‘standard parts’ and ‘core system’ together with human factors, Oxford Technologies’ considerable experience in ‘remote task development’, Human-Machine Interfaces, Operations Management methodology and virtual reality simulations of the 3 sample ITER RH tasks.

Outcome

A demonstration Remote Handling Control Room Work-Cell was built at Oxford Technologies premises in Abingdon. This included a working Master device (DEXTER) connected to a virtual Slave. The project was successfully concluded by running three typical RH tasks in front of the client over a 2 day period.