The United States can achieve a better competitive position by introducing productivity and efficiency into its use of human and natural resources. The better we can compete in the national arena, the greater we can improve quality of life. NIF contributes to U.S. competitiveness significantly by training future generations of scientists. From tours of the facility to our highly competitive summer student program to collaborations with universities to our renowned post-doctoral scholar appointments, NIF is teaching future science stars.
Recently, a NIF partnership with the California Mechatronics Center within the Mechanical Engineering, Mechatronics Engineering & Manufacturing Department at California State University, Chico, produced a remote-controlled robot that now prowls Level 2 of the Target Bay in the NIF facility. It has an important job: checking beta and gamma radiation levels after a high-neutron-yield NIF experiment.
The robot, dubbed D2T3 in honor of the NIF fusion fuel isotopes deuterium and tritium, recently passed its first remote-control field test and AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction) inspection. System Manager Casey Schulz, a mechanical and robotics engineer who has helped develop a wide variety of robotic systems, says the robot can be operated remotely from anywhere in Bldg. 581 with access to the NIF wireless network.
D2T3 is equipped with six cameras and six visual laser references to provide positioning and guidance information for its operators. The Fluke Ion Chamber beta/gamma survey instrument can be lowered from its normal chest-high position so the robot can “duck” under the low-clearance target positioner housings that protrude into the Target Bay. Several safety features are built into the system, including an emergency stop function if communication is lost, either on the robot or at the control station.