Decommissioning of nuclear systems and consolidation of resulting waste remains a major hurdle for the industry. The radioactive nature of nuclear waste makes manual handling unfeasible, while teleoperation and inflexible automation also have drawbacks.

This effort utilizes virtual fixtures to augment path creation for non-contact material reduction tasks. It builds on previous Nuclear and Applied Robotics Group work with Variable Normal Surface Virtual Fixtures, which generate surfaces offset from task surfaces. Offset surfaces can then provide poses at a set orientation to task surfaces. Once the Variable Normal Surface Virtual Fixture is generated from task information, operators build a list of desired path poses. The Robot Operating System Descartes package takes the pose list and plans a smooth trajectory for task execution. Planar and cylindrical demonstrations based on experimental studies at the United Kingdom’s Sellafield site were performed. This methodology augments waste reduction by allowing flexible laser cutting routes.

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