Unmanned Ground Vehicles -Robotic and Intelligent Systems scientists design unmanned ground vehicles from ATVs, Segways and other machines that can perform a variety of tasks. One area in which they have excelled is creating robots to detect landmines. INL researchers, working with the U.S. Army Maneuver Support Center, Carnegie Mellon University, Night Vision Laboratories and the Space and Naval Warfare Command, have developed portable, low-cost autonomous robots that identify and mark buried landmines. The results of a rigorous 10-day experiment showed that RIK running on a Carnegie Mellon University robot detected and accurately marked, both physically and digitally, 130 out of 135 buried mines. There was not a single false detection during the test. The robot was able to navigate obstacles while conducting area searches and the de-mining of roads and dismounted lanes. It swept a 50-meter lane and accomplished those tasks in a few minutes compared to the 25 minutes or it takes a trained soldier – and there was no human put in harm’s way.
Remote Systems and Automation -INL’s Robotics and Intelligent Systems division has long developed products that allow hazardous materials to be handled remotely. The program’s goal since its inception is to minimize human exposure to potentially dangerous situations, chemicals and materials. It focuses on creating robotic and automated systems to do the work instead of depending on humans to “suit up” and handle the materials remotely. It was instrumental in developing a system to remotely open 55-gallon drums of mixed waste, automatically sort the contents into acceptable and non-compliant waste streams, and repackage the waste for shipment. Recently they just completed development and demonstration of a system to remotely seal and leak test waste containers for disposal in the Yucca Mountain waste repository.