Robotics, Automation, and Sensors
Automation and robotic technology have traditionally been quite popular in the manufacturing industry mostly in automotive sector and electronic industries. At a significant chronological juncture, this technology was first welcomed for applications in hostile environments like nuclear and space applications for obvious reasons that necessitated further advancements in this exciting domain. Automation and remote handling with robotic technology play a crucial role in almost all facets of nuclear fuel cycle: fuel fabrication, postirradiation examination (PIE), in-service inspection (ISI) of plants and components, fuel reprocessing and waste management, and, last but not the least, decommissioning of nuclear plants. In nuclear reactors, the synergistic effects of radiation, temperature, and lack of space make the use of automated, robotic, and remote handling devices imperative for any unforeseen intervention for repair or maintenance and for periodic inspection to assess the integrity of the components or the subsystems. The typical demands and challenges to the robotics and automation community in the nuclear energy sector are depicted in Figure 33.1.