VR4Robots, the real time interactive visualization technology for remote handling
Because of the inaccessible nature of remote handling sites, mostly hostile environments which suffer from, high radiation or high temperatures, it is vital to construct a reliable representation of the operation that is safely accessible from any point of view.
Interactivity is the key. VR4Robots not only provides an immersive virtual view on the work site and equipment, but also accurate simulation of the equipment interacting with the environment.
VR4Robots is specifically developed to support the main phases in remote handling:
First step in VR4Robots, after the principle design of process and robot, is the creation of a digital twin of equipment and site. This is a fully functional virtual mockup that can evolve during the design process. At all times designs can be demonstrated and the control system can be tested with the simulated equipment.
Virtual reconstruction of work site
In case reliable as-built information is available and the site is intact, an easy workflow leads from 3D CAD models to this interactive 3D model. When a site is unknown or damaged, the first step is to investigate and reverse engineer a digital version of the environment the equipment needs to operate in.
Point cloud data resulting from laser scans is visualized in VR, thus completing the CAD models of the work site with the up-to-date situation.
When the approach is clear, VR4Robots assists the step-by-step task development process with a safe and realistic environment to test and validate each step of the remote operation. Different approaches can be compared, timed, and subjected to feasibility and safety checks. Also reach studies of the tools within the operating environment can be performed.
This way the methods of remote handling the components can be further refined. The whole process of moves and RH steps can be documented in detail and stored for later use. VR4Robots is an excellent tool to prepare and visualize operations sequence descriptions (OSDs).
Besides an exact replica of the RH equipment also a reliable representation of the environment is important to be able to verify that the designed solution will work for real. In case of a damaged site first step in the operation will be a digital site reconstruction.
At this stage the actual robot and its digital twin are operating in parallel. The operator controls the actual robot while monitoring the moves of the engineered robot within the virtual environment. The actual robot is carrying the sensors inside the environment to scan the surrounding. Step by step, using the output of the sensors and through point cloud processing and editing techniques, the virtual representation of the environment is built up, creating evidence of potential safe passages for the robot throughout the installation.
User friendly method for editing point clouds in 3D
As sensors and scanners deteriorate under the load of radioactive radiation this process needs to happen not only safely, but also in as less time as possible. Therefor moves with the robot are prepared, validated and when proven safe, converted into teach files for later execution. Advanced VR functionality is available to monitor the moves, like the next step moves presented as ghosted representation of the actual robot, while the system checks constantly for possible (soft-) collisions.
This way VR4Robots will also monitor and support any other RH task.