The Use of Virtual Reality and Intelligent Database Systems for Procedure Planning, Visualisation, and Real-Time Component Tracking in Remote Handling Operations

The organisation of Remote Handling (RH) operations in Fusion environments is increasingly critical as the number of tasks, components and tooling that RH operations teams must deal with inexorably rises. During the recent JET EP1 RH shutdown the existing Virtual Reality (VR) and procedural database systems proved essential for visualisation and tracking of operations, particularly due to the increasing complexity of remote tasks. A new task planning system for RH operations is in development, and is expected to be ready for use during the next major shutdown, planned for 2009. The system will make use of information available from the remote operations procedures, the RH equipment Human-Machine Interfaces, the on-line RH equipment control systems and also the Virtual Reality (VR) system to establish a complete database for the location of plant items and RH equipment as RH operations progress. It is intended that the system be used during both preparation and implementation of shutdowns. In the preparations phase the system can be used to validate procedures and overall logistics by allowing an operator to increment through each operation step and to use the VR system to visualise the location and status of all components, manipulators and RH tools. During task development the RH Operations engineers can plan and visualise movement of components and tooling to examine handling concepts and establish storage requirements. In the implementation of operations the daily work schedules information will be integrated with the RH operations procedures tracking records to enable the VR system to provide a visual representation of the status of remote operations in real time. Monitoring of the usage history of items will allow estimates of radiation dosage and contaminant exposure to be made. This paper describes the overall aims, structure and use of the system, discusses its application to JET, relevance to ITER and also considers potential future developments.
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