Project / Nuclear

VR Dosimeter for Radioactive Environments

For human intervention during the ATLAS Id Decommissioning

The aim of this project is to facilitate the planning of tasks and training of personnel in radioactive environments. With VR simulation of radiation dose, the tracking of high doses and planning of optimum paths for different tasks becomes easier and safer. Workers and supervisors will be able to train more efficiently without the constraints of physical location, thus allowing remote training of multiple workers in multiple locations simultaneously.

The Project

In 2024, the ATLAS inner tracker (ITk) installation at the LHC (CERN) will commence, which requires the removal of the current inner detector. The decommissioning process presents a radiation hazard to operatives working in the area, and so a VR system is under development to optimise the ergonomics of the decommissioning activities and hence minimise radiation exposure.

Our VR environment operates on the Virtalis “Visionary Render” platform. And with the help of a HTC Vive headset, users are capable to immerse themselves in this emulated experience. There are two types of user: the Trainee (Worker), and the Trainer (Supervisor). The Worker is immersed within the scene (the ATLAS inner tracker) and has complete agency to act within the virtual environment. The Supervisor is an external observer, and has total control of the scene. They can load pre-defined tasks for the Workers, and monitor their progress in real-time. An accumulated and instantaneous radiation dose for each Worker is automatically calculated and logged throughout the VR task. The radiation dose calculation relies on real dosimeter measurements mapped onto the VR environment, thus facilitating the development of safe operational procedures (SOPs) for use within the hazardous area.

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The VR implementation of the ATLAS inner tracker will translate eventually into a system with real-time integration of positional data with camera tracking, thus allowing the physical location and radiation dose estimates of individual workers predicted by the VR system.

Future iterations of this work will incorporate robotic and cobotic assistants (the digital twin concept) into the decommissioning process and thus reduce the risk of human intervention, further reducing radiation exposure. The VR modelling and real-time tracking techniques developed in this project have applications in other areas too, and not only on nuclear decommissioning. Areas like the commercial sector, aerospace, health & safety, just to mention some of them.

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