CSIRO Pullenvale’s Robotised Cherenkov Viewing Device Reaches Significant Milestone

Robotised Cherenkov Viewing Device
Photo credit: Sudharam Gopinath/Google Maps

A nuclear waste safety robot being developed by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) at the Queensland Centre for Advanced Technologies in Pullenvale could soon make it possible for autonomous robots to assist with field measurement and analysis of spent nuclear fuel, providing greater protection for human workers.

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The Robotised Cherenkov Viewing Device (RCVD), the nuclear waste safety robot being developed by CSIRO has reached a significant milestone after completing a successful test in South America.

The RCVD, developed in collaboration with the International Atomic Energy Agency, is a floating device which works by autonomously navigating a path across the pond whilst updating a real-time map with footage and data of the fuel assemblies.

CSIRO Technical Program Manager, Rosie Attwell said the test demonstrates that autonomous robots could soon assist with field measurement and analysis of spent nuclear fuel, providing greater protection for human workers.

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CSIRO team members with the device (Photo credit: csiro.au)

Although nuclear power plants are known for their capability to create reliable large electricity outputs, they can generate highly radioactive waste products that should be stored safely.

“Inspectors currently operate above the pond on a suspended platform, sometimes in 40-degree Celsius heat, using a handheld device to identify hundreds of used nuclear fuel rods,” Ms Attwell said.

Ms Atwell shared the new technology will remove humans from harm’s way and ensure the rate of safety inspections matches that of nuclear material.

The successful field test conducted in an operating nuclear facility in South America shows that the device has potential to go further.

IAEA nuclear safeguard inspectors during a spent fuel training exercise (Photo credit: csiro.au)

Datastart, a robotics company based in Hungary also worked on the project by developing parts of the device’s hardware.

Peter Kopias, CEO of Datastart, said seamless integration of the hardware developed by Datastart and CSIRO’s own navigation stack is a perfect example of intercontinental engineering collaboration.

“Moving personnel out of harm’s way is the most important benefit, but the exceptional data quality and the ability to inspect previously unreachable covered areas is a game changer in nuclear inspection.” Mr Kopias said.

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To learn more about the Robotised Cherenkov Viewing Device, visit www.csiro.au

Published 13-March-2023