WHY IT WORKS:
Robotic ROV and X-ray Integration for Safer CBRNe Operations
When integrating tools onto robotic ROVs, one has to make sure that whatever is added to the system does not interfere with the other functions of the platform; and having a single controller is mission critical to operating all activities of an extended-purpose CBRNe robot. Experts from VCsecurity* share insights gained from more than a dozen year’s global experience.
Figure 1 - Configuration a) - fully integrated Telerob robot / ROV
CBRNe professionals worldwide face the challenges of isolating, neutralizing, containing and handling improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which can include more than just explosive materials. There is an expectation that the “e" in “CBRN” will help release and disperse chemical and nuclear/radiological elements during an incident. (Note: studies show biological elements are often destroyed by the explosion). It is important to have suitable tools for inspecting and managing potential IEDs while addressing an unknown additional CBRN threat. These tools should be able to conduct an examination remotely from a large distance without putting the operator at risk.
The two main tools used by operators to accomplish their IED-mission are the robot - usually a robotic remotely operated vehicle (ROV) with some pre-programmed tasks - and the portable X-ray system. Each tool functions fine separately, but the deployment of each has certain limitations. Integrating the two tools together in a seamless way is therefore the logical next step. Solutions to the integration challenge by VCsecurity have been developed since 2006 in coorporation with Telerob.
Figure 2 - Configuration b) - X-ray unit and panel mounted on a "C-arm"2
The main portable system parts of the VCsecurity solution include an X-ray unit, a panel, and a tablet or laptop that hosts the software. The system can be configured in various ways:
- The X-ray unit can be mounted on the ROV chassis while the panel is held by the robot arm. In this configuration, the potential IED is between the ROV and the panel.
- Both the X-ray unit and the panel can be attached onto an additional accessory called a “C-arm” that is gripped by a robot arm. In this configuration, the potential IED will be between the sides of the “C”.
The most important part of successful robotic ROV plus X-ray unit integration is the ability to operate both systems from a single controller. This is what truly characterises the nature of merging two or more tools into one solution. As a single-operator, multi-capability platform, the “merged” robotic ROV+X-ray addresses all deployment challenges from an intelligent engineering perspective.
When planning an integrated robotic ROV + X-ray system, the following conditions must be met:
- All parts have to be perfectly integrated physically and technologically without interference between parts.
- All components have to be compatible, meaning:
- All parts – physical and technical – are ruggedized and designed to withstand the same range of temperature, vibration and weather extremes or conditions
(this means at least an IP67 rating);
- The integrated technologies – wired or wireless – function at compatible frequencies without causing interference, jamming or latency of signals, movements and sensor / camera information;
- Programmed deployment movements are re-programmed to work around the newly integrated constituents;
- Integrated, mounted system components are within the recommended dimensions and weight for the robotic ROV to avoid expensive repairs or warranty penalties;
- Key parts and tools should weigh 5 kgs or less, keeping movement / maneuverability trouble-free;
- The entire integrated system is low-maintenance because the various system constituents are compatible by design, not haphazardly bolted together.
When the aforementioned success factors are in place, the robotic ROV + X-ray provides visual and sensor information back to the operator. This allows the operator to make informed decisions about how to manage the mission, and the integrated robotic ROV+X-ray seamlessly responds to the operator’s “commands” throughout the mission, bringing it to a successful conclusion.
The single purpose of using robotic technologies is to spare human life during otherwise dangerous deployments, and by doing so, remove any threats to a population near the CBRNe event. The better engineered and planned the system is, the better it safeguards human life.
* VCsecurity is a division by Visiconsult and has an exclusive OEM agreement with Telerob. In this way, since 2006 these two companies have been jointly able to offer full integration of these two mission-critical tools – a robotic ROV and an X-Ray unit. To date hundreds of these integrated systems have been deployed worldwide.