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Robots In Radioactive Environments

Published on Apr 02, 2024


Robots are developed to be used in areas inaccessible to human beings. Radio active environment is one in which high energy radiations like ?, ? and ? radiations are emitted by radioactive materials. There is a limitation in case of the time and dose for which professional worker can be exposed to nuclear radiations according to international regulations so it very useful to use robots in such an environment.

Robots with properly automated can also be used to control nuclear power plants and hence can be used to avert nuclear power plant disasters like one that occurred at Chernobyl. Robots can also be used for the disposal of radioactive waste.

Future is still bright for robots in radio active environment as they are to be used to isolate nuclear power plants from surroundings in case of a nuclear power plant disaster.


The word robot was introduced in 1921 by the Czech play Wright Karel Capek, in his play Rossum's universal robots and is derived from the Czech word "Robota", meaning "forced labour". The story concerns a brilliant scientist named 'ROSSUM' and his son, who developed a chemical substance similar to protoplasm to manufacture robots. Their plan was that the robots would serve the mankind obediently and do all physical labour. Finally, after improvements and eliminating unnecessary parts, they develop a "perfect robot", which eventually goes out of control and attacks humans.

Although Capek introduced the word robot to the world, the term robotics was coined by Isaac Asimov in his science fiction story "run around", where he portrayed robots not in negative manner but built with safety measures in mind to assist human beings. Asimov established in his story three fundamental laws of robots as follows:
1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the first law.

3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the first and second laws. .

Robots were introduced into the industry in the early 1960's. Robots originally were in hazardous operations, such as handling toxics and radioactive materials and loading & unloading hot work pieces from furnaces and handling them in foundries.


Radioactive environment is mainly encountered in nuclear power plants. Some regular repair and maintenance activities at nuclear power plants involve risks of contamination and irradiation. While contamination is an accidental and avoidable phenomenon, irradiation is continuous and effects the operators work areas. Various countries have laws establishing annual maximum doses to which professional workers can be exposed and the maximum time that they may stay inside areas subject to radiation.

Most tasks at nuclear facilities are carried out by in house maintenance specialists. They are few in number and in many cases, require several yeas of experience and extensive training programs. The number of hours that they can work continuously is limited by national international regulations regarding the maximum dose that may be received by exposed professional workers.

Legal regulations establish that when a worker reaches a specific dose limit, the worker cannot work in areas subject to radiation for a given period of time. This increase the cost of maintenance services because personal only operate for short periods of time. Given the discontinuous use of human resources and discontinuous nature of work, nuclear service companies are obliged to allow for some uncertainties in scheduling of services and in rationalization of their human resources.

For all the above reasons, it is generally advisable and in some cases mandatory, to use telerobotics for the execution of repair and maintenance tasks in nuclear power plants. This is particularly true of tasks entailing high exposure to radiation

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