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International Journal of Scientific Research Engineering & Technology (IJSRET), ISSN 2278 0882

Volume 3, Issue 6, September 2014

DESIGN OF INSPECTION AND CLEANING ROBOT


Priya Shukla
ME Scholar
Electrical Engineering Department
NITTTR, Chandigarh

Mrs. Shimi S. L.
Assistant Professor
Electrical Engineering Department
NITTTR, Chandigarh

Abstract
In power plants, there are several places such as vessels,
surface, nozzle pipes which need to be inspected and
cleaned regularly. To ensure the integrity of power
plant, these various places must be periodically
inspected using ultrasonic sensors and visual cameras.
The surfaces and many parts of the plant should be
cleaned as many times as required to prevent
contaminations. Cleaning of power plants is a tedious
task with high efforts regarding time and personnel
costs. The advances of technologies for mobile robotics
enable the application of robots to increasingly complex
tasks. Robots were initially used in the automation
sector to handle repetitive and simple tasks reliably, with
the objective of cost reduction per product. Along with
the increased speed of embedded microcontrollers, the
service robotic sector has started to grow. Robots do
tasks such as handling heavy radioactive loads and
performing tricky repair and maintenance operation in
contaminated areas. This paper investigates a robot
which is guided using wireless communication by a
remote location to inspect and clean various fields
effectively. The robotic system is devised to reduce
inspection time along with effective cleaning scheduled
in places where human exposure is risky. This paper
presents the design and implementation of an inspection
and cleaning robot in power plants.
Keywords: Robot, microcontroller, remote control

INTRODUCTION

Robots are increasingly being integrated into working


tasks to replace humans. They are currently used in
many fields of applications including office, military
tasks, hospital operations, industrial automation, security
systems, dangerous environment and agriculture. Recent
technological advancement in robotics has ever
increasing need and contribution in the safe and secure
power plants. This increasing trend is not only
associated with the revolution in robotics, automation
and nuclear technology but is primarily because of the
escalating concern over the human and environmental
safety. Special attention has been drawn towards Safety
[1]. Inspection of power plants is essential for a safe and
optimal operation of the facilities. Plants get older and
older and security assessments are both, necessary and

regulated by law. More and more robots are used to


execute inspection because of several reasons: automatic
or semiautomatic tasks, faster execution, enhanced
precision, zones difficult to access, fast global
assessment. Cleaning of power plants is a tedious task
with high efforts regarding time and personnel costs [23]. The advances of technologies for mobile robotics
enable the application of robots to increasingly complex
tasks. Robots were initially used in the automation
sector to handle repetitive and simple tasks reliably, with
the objective of cost reduction per product. Along with
the increased speed of embedded microcontrollers, the
service robotic sector has started to grow[4]. A robot is a
mechanical or virtual intelligent agent that can perform
tasks automatically or with guidance, typically by
remote control. In practice a robot is usually an electromechanical machine that is guided by computer and
electronic programming. Robots can be autonomous,
semi-autonomous or remotely controlled [5].
In a number of robotic industrial applications, human
workers are replaced by machines mostly because the
latter are more efficient, precise, productive, and can do
monotonous tasks without getting tired. However, in
power plant applications, the objective is more to extend
the presence of robots or to enable them to reach areas
where the thermal or radiation environment limits the
presence of a human. Robots do tasks such as handling
heavy radioactive loads and performing tricky repair and
maintenance operation in contaminated areas. Presently,
a number of sophisticated robots have been developed
for use in power plants [6].
Robot teleportation is one of the crucial features that is
highly desired. However, much depends on the
reliability of operation since failures are extremely
costly. The cost may be in terms of money, time, and
more importantly dose received by the operators. If the
failed system cannot be repaired remotely, it has to be
removed and decontaminated from the environment.
Again, both the removal and decontamination are costly.
If the failed system cannot be disassembled remotely,
human are exposed to hazards [7]. If the failed system
cannot be brought out of the hazardous environment, we
need to repair it at site, which involves complete
decontamination involving long time exposure to human
workers. This at some extent, explains the reluctance of

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International Journal of Scientific Research Engineering & Technology (IJSRET), ISSN 2278 0882
Volume 3, Issue 6, September 2014

using robots in the power plant industry despite the


above mentioned issues, research continues into
developing and testing teleoperated mobile robots for
three main reasons. First, to avoid unnecessary dose to
human operators, Secondly, since many power plants are
in ageing phases, and their safe operation may require
unanticipated inspections, repairs, or replacements.
Finally, modern and upcoming plants are being designed
with remote maintainability as a design feature [8-9].
Certain inspection and cleaning work need to be done in
hostile environment such as areas which are
contaminated or in crapped location, making it difficult
for patrol personnel. Given these situations, satisfactory
observations cleaning and inspections may not be
carried out due to time limitations. In addition with this,
there is a need to observe inspection and clean the areas
inside the vessel which are inaccessible to personnel
during boiling water reactor plant operation [10-11].

II AN OVERVIEW TO ROBOTIC
APPLICATIONS
Robots are increasingly being integrated into working
tasks to replace humans. They are currently used in
many fields of applications including office, military
tasks, hospital operations, industrial automation, security
systems, dangerous environment and agriculture.
Several types of mobile robots with different dimensions
are designed for various robotic applications. The robot
has been designed for the purpose of aiding rescue
workers. Common situations that employ the robot are
urban disasters, hostage situations, and explosions. The
benefits of rescue robots to these operations include
reduced personnel requirements, reduced fatigue, and
access to unreachable areas[12]. The robot is built to
discover areas which people cannot reach. Robots are
extensively used in various industrial applications.
However, in power plants, use of robots is limited due to
safety issues and considerations. Very few applications
have been reported in the available literature known to
the authors, which are used in power industry among
more than a million worldwide. Over the years, use of
robotics has been reviewed and evaluated in several
studies.
In [13],[14], the authors reported a low cost consumer
robot such as home cleaning robot along with the design
of robot which operates semi or fully autonomously to
perform services useful to the well being of human and
equipment, excluding manufacturing operations. The
authors have been using different software engineering
techniques, integrating new paradigms in the service
robot development process as they emerged. In [15], the
author proposed a robotic cleaner navigation system
using FPGA and FSM approaches, which detect the
force between robot and obstacles. Research continues

about different locomotion and adhesion methods for


climbing robots and presents characteristics, challenges
and applications for these systems [16].In [17], [18], the
authors discussed flying robots along with light weight
RGB-D camera, that deals with challenging scenarios
and poor environments. They also presented a floor
cleaning robot equipped with Swedish wheels. It can be
used in crowded places such as houses, train station,
airport etc.
In [19], [20], the authors presented report on the
situation at Fukushima and present lessons that were
learned involving multirobot operation by workers.
Workers with no prior experience with robots operated
multirobot in dynamically changing environments. Also,
a novel outdoor cleaning robot using on board vision
based auto navigation is proposed in which the track
driven and cleaning mechanisms are designed for
cleaning task in outdoor rough terrain. In [21], [22], the
authors discussed about using already available robotic
solutions to deploy innovative systems in order to fulfil
industrial objectives to provide a means to help
measuring several physical parameters in multiple points
by autonomous robots, able to navigate and climb
structures, handling sensors or special non destructive
testing equipment. The objective is to increase the
efficiency of the installation by improving the inspection
procedures and technologies.
In the sections to follow, first, we describe robot design
process, then its block diagram. At the end, we conclude
by mentioning future direction of this project.

III

ROBOT DESIGN PROCESS

There are following phases which need to be considered


while designing a robot:
A) Problem Description
The first thing in designing a robot is identification of
the purpose for which it has to be built along with
specifying requirements.
In our case, the task is to provide access to confined
inaccessible and hazardous places inside the power plant
duct system. It implies that there should be an
environment sensing and real time reporting system on
board on the robot along with on board power supply for
movement, sensing and transmission system [23]. The
robot should be compact in size and low weight as it has
to move in various ducts and narrow cavities in plant.
B) Proposed Design
In this phase, it is required to specify details that the
proposed design should have. The proposed design
should have following details:
How the robot will move in the environment?

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International Journal of Scientific Research Engineering & Technology (IJSRET), ISSN 2278 0882
Volume 3, Issue 6, September 2014

What are its power requirements?


What type of sensors is used?
How it is controlled?

C) Robot Fabrication
It is proposed to use AutoCAD for designing mechanical
designs of robot. It is designed to move forward, right,
left and reverse direction. The controller, camera and
vacuum cleaner attached to the robotic arm are
processed locally [22-23].
D) Robot Programming
Following the fabrication stage, it is required to program
the microcontroller in C language. The programming
also involves the design of interface.
E) Control Logic
The main function of microcontroller is to control the
movement of robot in all directions. For making it to
move in a particular direction, the ON logic will be
given to the wheels that push the carrier to move in that
specific direction [24-25].
F) Environmental Mapping
The camera will be situated on the robotic chassis. This
on board camera would be used to map the environment,
by capturing images, accessible to the operator through
remote Graphical User Interface at the operator end[1617].
G) Cleaning Operation:
To achieve this, we have created a vacuum cleaner on
the robotic arm, attached to the robot chassis using
following essential components:
An intake port, which may include a variety of
cleaning accessories
An exhaust port
An electric motor
A fan
A porous bag
A housing that
contains
all
the
other
components

cleaner works better when the bag is just


replaced than during vacuuming for a while.
The size of the opening at the end of the intake
port: Since the speed of the vacuum fan is
constant, the amount of air passing through the
vacuum cleaner per unit of time is also constant.
No matter what size the intake port has, the
same number of air particles will have to pass
into the vacuum cleaner every second. If the
port is made smaller, the individual air particles
will have to move much more quickly in order
for them all to get through in that amount of
time. At the point where the air speed increases,
pressure decreases, according to Bernoullis
principle, the drop in pressure translates to a
greater suction force at the intake port. Since
they create a stronger suction force, narrower
vacuum attachments can pick up heavier dirt
particles than wider attachments [27].

H) Power Scheme
The robot would be operated by using carrier mounted
two rechargeable batteries. Two 6 V batteries are
connected in series to supply 12 V to DC motors driving
the wheels. 12V
supply is converted to 5V (for circuitry) voltage
regulator.
I) Operator Control
Remote operation enables an operator to sense and
manipulate an object from remote locations. This is an
essentially useful feature where the operator has to work
around in hostile environments or confined spaces where
human access is difficult or not possible. The control
strategy of the proposed robot is based on the theme that
the operator will operate and control it remotely. There
would be a GUI, providing interface between the robot,
and the human operator. Thus, the operator will act as a
supervisor, and will give instructions to the robot by
using the user interface [28-29].

Vacuum cleaners pick up dirt by driving a stream of air


through an air filter [26]. The power of the vacuum
cleaners suction depends on a number of factors.
Suction will be stronger or weaker depending on:

The power of the fan: To generate strong


suction, the motor has to turn at a good speed.
The blockage of the air passageway: When a
great deal of debris builds up in the vacuum bag,
the air faces greater resistance on its way out.
Each particle of air moves more slowly because
of the increased drag. This is why a vacuum

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Figure (1) RF Transmitter and Receiver Section

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International Journal of Scientific Research Engineering & Technology (IJSRET), ISSN 2278 0882
Volume 3, Issue 6, September 2014

J) Testing
Testing is the most crucial phase. A mock up would be
developed to test robot before deployment.

the arm by which inspection and cleaning operation will


be done.

K)
Evaluation
Evaluation includes testing and verifying the design
specifications by the client or user. It is planned to use it
by clients at auxiliary building areas outside the power
plants first, and then in the actual field areas.

IV

Software Robot Design

The robot software complements the hardware


architecture of the robot by providing basic low level
hardware control that include reading the sensors value
and controlling the motor speed.
i) C Program:
It is a powerful, feature rich development tool for PIC
microcontroller. It is designed to provide the
programmer with the easiest possible solution for
developing applications for embedded systems, without
compromising performance or control.
ii) Visual Basic Program:
This is used for Interfacing between PC and the stairclimbing Robot. Microsoft Visual Basic 6.0 is used in
this paper because of its easy programming, easy
displaying of visual elements, availability. It is one of
the most popular programming languages and it is easy
to implement functions using it.
iii) PIC 16F877A :
It is used as the brain of the robot that can be
programmed by connecting the serial port of the
computer to PIC microcontroller. The serial port
operates at +/- 13V, and the PIC serial operates at
+5V/0V. MAX232 is used as a level shifter to connect
the serial port of the computer to pins RX/TX on PIC
[30-31].

IV

Block Diagram of Proposed Model

The block diagram is a pictorial representation of


proposed robot. It shows how the various essential
components must be connected to fulfil the desired task.
It describes the circuitry of robot chassis. It shows the
main structure of inspection and cleaning robot which
consists of power sources, dc motors, RF transmitter and
receiver. The brain of the robot is microcontroller.
Microcontroller reads data from sensors and computer
through RF transceiver and decoder/encoder. It is given
dc supply as an input, an IC is used to smooth dc input
to the microcontroller. According to the inputs received
from sensors, microcontroller drives dc motor and hence

Figure (2) Block diagram of cleaning and inspection


robot

CONCLUSION

The research in power plants robotics has been in for


long period of time but emerging trend is to deploy
reliable and humanly-controlled robots inside facilities
that could carry out tasks that assist humans. The main
reasons are to reduce risks and limits to workers.
In this paper, design of prototype inspection and
cleaning robot is proposed which is guided at remote
location to perform required tasks in various places of
power plants. It is easy to operate and reduces risk to
human lives in dangerous places of plants. Our proposed
robotic application may serve in multipurpose scenarios
such as providing access to confined and humanly
inaccessible spaces. The proposed application of
robotics can also be utilised for cleaning in emergency
interventions. At present, we are working on fabrication
and electronic hardware development of this project.
Progress so far is promising for successful deployment
in the actual environment at later stages.

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