Aarhus University Robotics Group (AU Robotics)

The Aarhus University Robotics Group (AU Robotics), led by Associate Professor Xuping Zhang, is under the Department of Mechanical and Production Engineering. AU Robotics specializes in the modelling, design, sensing, and control of robotic interaction and manipulation at both macro- and micro-scales. Major research interests include: robotic industrial manufacturing and production, dynamics and control theory of robot manipulators, robotic rehabilitation and in-pipe inspection, robotic single-cell handling, micro-actuation, and remote handling and maintenance with robots.

In EUROfusion, AU Robotics focuses on supporting the development of engineering solutions to the remote maintenance of in-vessel components at DEMO.

By far the most massive components inside the vacuum vessel are the breeder blankets (BBs). These BBs help cool the reactor and shield exterior components by absorbing much of the radiation from the hot plasma. The materials in the BBs produce tritium when exposed to this radiation, which will be used as fuel for the reactor. Each breeder blanket is split into 5 segments, each of which can weigh more than 100 tons. At the ends of their life cycles, or in cases of failure, the BBs must be replaced. The spent blankets and other in-vessel components are radioactive and must be handled remotely and in a sealed environment to limit the spread of contamination. For this purpose, special remote handling tools are being developed.

The AU Robotics Group is assisting in the development of the breeder blanket transporter, which is a large lifting device capable of removing and replacing the 5 breeder blanket segments through a single upper port. It can carry the massive segments and maneuver them precisely in the tight spaces of the inner vacuum vessel and upper port. The AU Robotics Group is investigating the kinematics, dynamics, and control of this unique robotic system as well as considering how to optimize the breeder blanket removal and replacement trajectories.

You can read more about the AU Robotics Group here.

2 OKTOBER 2023