AIA Robot Completes its Virgin Inspection in Real Tokamak Environment

Recently, a new robotic diagnostic called AIA EAST-WEST has successfully completed its first inspection of plasma facing components (PFCs) in real tokamak environment, making it the first operational fusion device with the capacity of remote inspection under vacuum and temperature.

This 8 meters long flexible robot arm entered in EAST vessel through a dedicated 250mm port, and it was able to cover the entire EAST vacuum volume. During the experiment operation on August 9, the inspection of the first wall and the divertor components was done. The real-time laser calibration of spectral diagnostics components was also realized.

AIA EAST-WEST is among the first batch of collaboration projects defined by the Associated Laboratory between ASIPP and CEA/IRFM. In 2012, the Associated laboratory set the goal of this joint research work -- PFCs remote inspection during EAST and WEST plasma discharge gaps without breaking ultra-high vacuum and temperature conditioning; and it took the lab scientists less than two years to first deploy the robot in EAST tokamak under atmospheric pressure and ambient temperature.

ASIPP and CEA researchers have worked closely on the project, and overcome many key technical difficulties, including collision avoidance control of a redundant robot, visual observation under extreme adverse conditions, etc. At the same time, they have also integrated and tested a storage cask system for the robot arm, and updated the trajectory control algorithm and robot arm software based on the latest layout of EAST vacuum vessel.

After tested satisfactorily in EAST, another AIA robot will also be made by the Associated Lab and integrated in the WEST Tokamak in 2016 to improve its operation, according to Eric Villedieu, PI from CEA. In the near future, the robot will be equipped with more end-effectors, which will surely boost the collaboration opportunities with other international counterparts.


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