Remote controlled robot will eliminate risk to humans during pressure vessel inspections

Chimera has been designed to inspect pressure vessels safely and more cost-effectively in all industries.

A SEMI-AUTONOMOUS robot currently being built to inspect pressure vessels will eliminate risk to humans while saving industries millions of pounds each year.

As a health and safety requirement, routine internal inspections of pressure vessels must be performed in plants around the world, but the process of shutting down production, depressurizing the vessel, and transporting any fluid or liquid is extremely expensive.

Additionally, these inspections in hazardous environments are currently performed by humans and there is a high level of risk involved.

To combat these problems, a collaboration of companies from across the UK has developed a remote-controlled robot, Chimera, for use in all industries, including oil and gas, nuclear and water.

Chimera is a machine that can withstand hazardous environments and is built in two components to allow great flexibility so it can scale the internal walls of the container, and is attached to a strap to allow an operator to control the machine remotely from a box. strong. distance.

The robot will have an attached camera to transmit live images to the operator and will also include an ultrasonic phased array inspection system and a LIDAR scanner to create a 3D map of the internal structure to paint an accurate picture of the state of the vessel and identify the damage.

A slim “snake” arm can also be attached to do any minor repairs needed in such a small space.

The Cumbrian Forth engineering firm has developed the robotics platform for the Chimera project and has successfully tested the machine to show that the concept model accurately carries out its functions.

Joshua Oakes, Project Engineer at Forth, said: “Maintenance inspections have to be carried out routinely on pressure vessels around the world and the process of having to stop production and drain or transport any fluid or gas is a long and very expensive process. a. On average, shutting down production can cost £40,000 a day, and these inspections can go on for days.

“It also requires people to carry out inspections and confined spaces can be difficult to get in and out of, and very dangerous due to substances that have previously been stored in the containers.

“Chimera removes the human element from hazardous environments and allows work to be carried out from a safe and remote distance.

“Work can also be completed in hours instead of days, without the need to stop production at all.”

The Chimera innovation will come equipped with four strong magnets, each weighing 116kg, so it can scale indoor walls and ceilings.

The machine features a four-track transmission and the operator will be able to steer each track individually to ensure easy control.

The purpose of it being built in two separate parts is twofold: to allow greater flexibility and to allow the machine to be pulled backwards in the event of a loss of power to the machine’s motors.

To reduce the risks of power loss, a water cooling system has been included in the machine to keep the electrical components cool during use.

The Forth team has tested the Chimera concept with partners and successfully tested a working model.

They are now seeking financial backing to advance the innovation process to the next stage, allowing the machine to be modified and adapted to a commercial team.

The Innovate UK supported program has also been supported by The Welding Institute, Headlight AI, Sound Mathematics, the University of Nottingham, Rolls Royce, Metallisation and Race.

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