Snake-arm robot set to go through its paces at Sellafield

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OC Robotics has signed a contract with Sellafield to demonstrate the capabilities of its snake-arm robot.

The demonstration for Sellafield will include two snake arms, deployed using OC Robotics’ Rail and Rotate platform. The snake arms will reportedly transport end effectors into a purpose-built cell mock-up to demonstrate its decommissioning and inspection capabilities.

Both snake arms will be variants of the OC Robotics Explorer Range. Each arm will have 22° of freedom, will measure 2.5m long and 100mm in diameter, and will be remotely operated by joystick.

The first snake arm will deploy an OC Robotics 3° of freedom wrist and gripper. According to the company, the wrist and gripper will contain a navigation camera and variable lighting, as well as acting as a quick change tool interface with capability to carry electric and pneumatic tools, with services fed through the centre of the snake arm. A custom inspection camera, a swabbing tool, a representative radiological probe and sampling scoops will all be demonstrated.

OC Robotics said the second snake arm will have a high-pressure water-jetting tool integrated into it. The tool is being supplied by Sellafield and is of a type currently used for decontamination tasks on its site.

‘Previously we have built bespoke snake-arm solutions for very specific problems,’ said Rob Buckingham, managing director at OC Robotics. ‘The objective with this work is to demonstrate that snake-arm robots can become a generic, modular tool for a wide range of decommissioning tasks.

‘This offers companies such as Sellafield the ability to standardise on a single platform and develop the experience and expertise required to solve confined space challenges.’

Initial concepts: snake-arm reaching into cell (Top Left), cell mockup (Bottom Left), wrist and gripper (Top Right), gripper holding swabbing tool (Centre Right), gripper holding inspection camera (Bottom Right)
Initial concepts: snake arm reaching into cell (top left), cell mock-up (bottom left), wrist and gripper (top right), gripper holding swabbing tool (centre right), gripper holding inspection camera (bottom right)