Two robots controlled by human touch are being put through their paces in practice rescue missions at the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), Oxfordshire.
The twin robots, both known as Mascot, played a game of Jenga in order to test their dexterity, which will be needed to maintain a fusion energy machine safely, going to places where humans can’t.
Each Mascot has two arms with grippers that can operate over 900 bespoke tools. They are deployed on the end of an articulated boom, driven by a remote team from a control room. The room contains VR screens and live camera feeds to ensure precision views.
According to UKAEA, skilled operators use two robot arms to control each robot allowing it to perform tasks such as replacing tiles, welding, cutting and surveying.
Gary Hermon, remote handling lead technologist at UKAEA, said in a stament: “Robotic systems are an integral part of putting fusion energy on the grid for the design and maintenance of future fusion powerplants. We can’t afford to have a robot that gets stuck!
“The second Mascot is now in place to train our remote handling team in rescue tasks ensuring its twin can always be saved when working on the maintenance of JET, our machine where EUROfusion researchers set a sustained fusion energy record announced earlier this year.”
The £1.5 million ($1.8 million), 32-month project was funded by the EUROfusion programme and was worked on by over 40 engineers at UKAEA’s robotics laboratory, RACE (Remote Applications in Challenging Environments).