The proposal is based on maintenance operations for the collimators along CERN’s flagship accelerator – the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), which has long distance, limited space and unstructured environment. It is time consuming and potentially unsafe for technicians to maintain the collimators. This proposal aims at the development of an AUTOnomous mobile MAniPulation system (AutoMAP) capable of carrying out assembly and test tasks in unstructured and hazardous environments with emphasis on the provision of teleoperation based teaching-by-demonstration methods. This will enable non-specialist personnel to safely reconfigure the system remotely without the need to access a potentially hazardous operating environment. The proposal is based on use case operations to be carried out on CERN’s flagship accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), which is the most powerful accelerator in the world and has been in operation since 2010. Collimators are electromechanical devices installed at regular intervals around the 27km long LHC tunnel to ensure optimum quality particle beams are delivered to the experiments. There are approximately 100 collimators of different types in operation at any one time and new collimators are being produced to replace any failed devices and improve their performance.  The main motivation for carrying out maintenance work using a remotely controlled mobile robot is to reduce maintenance personnel exposure to hazards in the LHC tunnels – such as ionising radiation and oxygen deficiency hazards. A second motivation is that the robot will be able to autonomously carry out the same tasks in the assembly facility as in the tunnel on collimators during their initial build and quality assurance. The mobile manipulation tasks dealt with in this proposal are carried out in two distinct environments:

  • In the low-volume collimator assembly and test workshop at CERN (assembly and quality testing as part of initial build of collimators)
  • In the underground accelerator tunnels where the collimators are installed (maintenance and re-commissioning as part of LHC operation)

This system with its expected performance will have a major impact on safety and manufacturing. The technology and systems developed in this work will be readily transferable to the maintenance of thousands of other key components along the LHC tunnel and more widely to other external scientific and industrial facilities where a hostile and unstructured working environment is a feature. This proposal will also impact generic components assembly technologies, having important implications and benefits for European SMEs involved in complicated assembly process and precision manufacturing.




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