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Advanced Teleoperation and Shared Autonomy for Nuclearized Robotic Systems

Geoffrey Hollinger, Camille Palmer, Todd Palmer, and William D. Smart.
In "Proceedings of the Waste Management Symposia (WM)", Phoenix, AZ, 2017.

Remotely-initiated operations have existed for more than 50 years in the nuclear weapons complex, as the environments are far too extreme for humans. We introduce the scope of the nuclear waste cleanup effort and describe some existing applications of robotics technology at specific sites. We offer summaries of both the technology that is currently used, as well as a discussion of the types of problems that the technology is applied to. We contrast this with the current state of practice in other areas where robots are deployed in the real world, such as with military infantry units. We then go on to summarize and discuss the current state of the art in advanced teleoperation research and in shared autonomy, where humans collaborate with closed-loop automation to complete tasks. Our discussion focuses on areas with particular relevance to nuclear waste management, such as remote inspection and manipulation.

Armed with this background, we then identify specific technology gaps that must be closed in order to successfully bring advanced teleoperation and shared autonomy technologies to bear on problems in nuclear waste management, such as (1) environmental remediation; (2) sampling, characterization, and disposition of tanks with hazardous and highly radioactive waste and (3) decontamination and decommissioning of facilities with gloveboxes and hot cells.

We propose a roadmap for how to transition the current state of the art approaches in advanced robotics and shared autonomy to practice in the nuclear industry and how to close the technology gaps previously identified. This roadmap covers not only the technical advances that need to be made, but also considers the social and societal aspects. Drawing parallels with the adoption of similar technologies in the military and other areas, we offer concrete suggestions for how to deploy these new technologies effectively into the nuclear industry from a human-centered perspective.

Paper: [PDF]

  author = {Hollinger, Geoffrey A. and Palmer, Camille J. and Palmer, Todd S. and Smart, William D.},
  title = {Advanced Teleoperation and Shared Autonomy for Nuclearized Robotic Systems},
  booktitle = {Proceedings of the Waste Management Symposia ({WM})},
  address = {Phoenix, AZ},
  year = {2017}