Manufacturing & Prototyping
'LaserSnake' Performs World-First in Nuclear Decommissioning
The 'LaserSnake2' - a snake-arm robot with a laser cutter - successfully completed a world first, dismantling redundant equipment in a radioactive area of a nuclear facility. The recent test took place in the Sellafield nuclear power plant, in the north of England, which is currently being decommissioned. Because the area is radioactive, the system is controlled remotely. LaserSnake2 is a collaborative R&D project led by UK-based company OC Robotics, and the versatile and cost-effective system could transform many nuclear decommissioning tasks. The machine uses a series of wire ropes that run along the length of its arm to articulate its joints. Carefully adjusting tension in each of the cables enables it to twist itself through tight spaces and negotiate awkward geometries. Snake-arm robots are ideally suited for confined and hazardous applications, as the motors, electronics, and control systems are situated outside of the environment, with only the arm itself being deployed into the work space.