Theme 2: Reusability and robustness

Theme lead

Joaquin Carrasco (Manchester)

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To design, construct and test low-cost robotic systems that can be deployed in nuclear environments and operate, reliably, for prescribed lengths of time despite the damaging effects of radiation and other hazards.

Research Challenges (T2RC)

To achieve high reliability, failure modes in high gamma and neutron environments must be quantified; 2. Improved rad-tolerance needs to be developed through software, low-level hardware redundancy, electronic reconfigurability and by dynamic assessment of balance between on-board and off-board systems; 3. Extreme environments demand high levels of mechanical system reliability. Approaches will detect and compensate for failures using redundancy and fault tolerant control systems; 4. Where power is limited, minimally actuated robotic systems are necessary, with reduced electronics and power scavenging.

Initial Work Programme (T2WP)

Work will be spread across the following initial work-packages:

A. Redundancy of Individual Systems [OXF2, OXF4] (T2RC3 and link to T1). Systems level analysis that considers mechanical robot specific redundancy (damaged motor) and algorithmic redundancy (multi class sensor fusion) as well as full system redundancy (duplicate platforms) to ensure mission completion. This topic will also consider multi-sensor fusion across different navigation sensors for redundancy.

B. Advanced Fault Detection: [MAN3] (T2RC3 and link to T1). Robust control systems utilising fault tolerant model based controllers, integrated with advanced fault detection and isolation strategies will be developed and tested.

C. Rad-Tolerant Systems [MAN4, BRI2, RACE1, LIV3] (T2RC2 and link to T1, 4). Use of space industry techniques, together with novel memristive devices, software reconfigurability and electronic redundancy will be investigated. Design of high payload rad-tolerant joints for multi-purpose deployment systems.

D. Operations in Power Scarce Environments [NOT2] (T2RC4 and link to T1). Power scavenging systems for use with minimally actuated robotic platforms will be developed to allow long-term deployment.

User Engagement: In Y1 users will help with defining the test conditions that are to be targeted. In Y2-4 users will support benchmarking tests and help identify trade-offs between cost and radiation tolerance of robotic systems.

SMART Measurement of Success: 1. Locomotion trials over specific nuclear scenarios, with a range of faults artificially created on the platforms. [M24]; 3. Operation of robotic control system in high radiation environment using reconfigurable electronics. [M24]; 2. Catalogue of common robotics components and their failure modes [M36]