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Fluor-BWXT Site Project Director Dennis Carr, left, learns how to operate a FirstLook robot from Fluor-BWXT Nondestructive Assay Engineer Kevin Banks.
Two PackBots designed and built by Endeavor Robotics with mounted radiation sensor/communication are prepared for the demonstration.
PIKETON, Ohio – EM and its Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office (PPPO) hosted the “EM Science of Safety: Robotics Challenge” Aug. 22-25 at the Portsmouth Site in cooperation with cleanup contractor Fluor-BWXT Portsmouth (FBP).
EM believes robotics can enhance worker health and safety and improve performance, productivity and overall quality. The Robotics Challenge serves to educate EM’s workforce on the use and benefits of robotics and related enabling technologies.
Technology demonstrations at the Robotics Challenge included a machine-learning pipe crawler, modular prosthetic limb, radiation robotic rabbit, serpentine and modular robots, and the RoboGlove from NASA's Johnson Space Center.
Members of the United Steelworkers (USW) Local 689-1 gained hands-on experience as they operated the robotic technologies.
“Structuring the demos to have the workers and operators conduct the demos provided us a unique opportunity to gain their perspectives on the utility of the technologies and to offer their insights on ways to make their work safer and easier to do,” said Rodrigo Rimando, director of EM's Office of Technology Development. “Robotics, as a key mission-enabling technology, provide countless solutions to our very complicated and high-risk problem-set.”
PPPO — in partnership with FBP — was pleased to host demonstrators from some of the most prestigious organizations around the country, Portsmouth Site Lead Joel Bradburne said.
“It was a very successful week of viewing new technologies. We are excited for the possibilities for the use of these technologies not only to increase efficiency, but reduce personnel exposure to hazards to complete our mission,” Bradburne said. “We believe this effort will lead to further deployment of robotic technology, not only at our sites, but also other DOE sites around the country.”
Following the Robotics Challenge, a Sept. 14 event for the bipartisan House Nuclear Cleanup Caucus on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. will focus on how technology development can make EM’s cleanup of nuclear waste sites safer and more effective and cost efficient.
“Boosting technology development through our science of safety initiative will result in smart solutions to the cleanup challenges of today and tomorrow,” said EM Assistant Secretary Monica Regalbuto, who will participate in the event’s panel discussion. “I look forward to updating the caucus on this initiative and how it will better position EM to meet our shared cleanup goals as we complete some of the most technically complex and hazardous work in the world.”
The panel discussion is sponsored by the Nuclear Energy Institute, Energy Facility Contractors Group and Energy Technology and Environmental Business Association.
The event for the caucus, which is open to the public, is from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m., following the 2016 National Cleanup Workshop.
The caucus advocates for EM cleanup and provides updates on the program to members of Congress.
The related events of EM’s science of safety initiative will be featured at the National Cleanup Workshop Sept. 14-15 and DOE's "Advancing Environmental Stewardship through Innovation Lab Day" on Sept. 13.
The National Cleanup Workshop will bring together senior DOE executives, officials from DOE sites, industry executives, and other stakeholders to discuss EM's cleanup progress.
At the Lab Day event on Capitol Hill, members of Congress and their staff will learn about the capabilities and contributions of the national laboratories in four key areas: advancing the science of safety for cleanup, enabling a sustainable future, understanding earth systems, and coping with emergencies. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Regalbuto will join thought leaders in a fireside chat illustrating how the network of national laboratories is a global innovation powerhouse.
The science of safety initiative aims to increase collaborations within DOE, other federal agencies and in the private non-nuclear sector to gain expertise in advanced robotics to enhance safety and quality of life for workers.