One of our clients specializes in enabling emergency responders to use robotics. However, while researching the challenges described by the Fukushima robot operators, they realized that the difficulties the operators faced stemmed not from physical limitation of the robots used but from the way they were controlled.
Robots can perform strenuous, dangerous or unergonomic work not well suited for people. They are widely used in controlled environments such as factories but struggle in dynamic environments that constitute most work sites. In these environments, even robots controlled by AI can have inadequate adaptive decision-making. Interpretability for such AI (understanding why and how they function) can also be difficult, if not impossible, to establish, raising concerns regarding their use in critical applications where errors can result in injury or expensive outages. On the other hand, fully human-controlled robots require significant operator training and, even with experience, introduce significant challenges resulting in inefficiencies. As a result, these two factors have led to the limited deployment of robotics across all industries.
To address this problem, which is faced by many industries, including nuclear, our client developed a hardware-enabled software platform called the Intuitive Robot Interface System (IRIS). Promation connected this novel technology with real applications in the nuclear power industry and integrated the conceptual augmented reality (AR) control system into functioning prototype solutions. As a result of this applied R&D, a contract was recently signed with a major nuclear power generator to deliver an AR-controlled robotic system.
A suite of robotic control tools that enable optimal utilization of automation and human-in-the-loop control for any application lowers costs, risk and development time of robotic solutions. The key benefits of the platform for the nuclear industry include minimizing time spent on PPE, improved operational flexibility, and enablement of simulations of the work to train new operators.