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Technology Factsheet

Remote Underwater Characterization System (RUCS)

Category: Characterization > Monitors > Multipurpose Detectors
Reference # : OST No 2151 , DOE/EM-0457 Model No : Scallop

The Remote Underwater Characterization System (RUCS) is an underwater characterization system designed to perform tasks such as characterization and small parts retrieval. It is based on a small, commercially available, remotely operated submersible vehicle. The small size of the vehicle allows it to operate in areas where access is tight or where maneuvering room is limited. The system is very inexpensive when compared to others of similar capability. The vehicle has underwater lights and a front color camera. It is capable of operating at depths up to 100 feet. The Robotics Crosscutting Program added:- Vendor installed vehicle orientation/heading monitoring via an on-board compass, -Vendor-installed vehicle depth monitoring sensor, -Gamma radiation detector. -Addition of auto-depth control feature to hold the vehicle at a selected depth -A second version includes a small manipulator and an ultrasonic probe.The operator control station consists of a single case, which is the size of a standard suitcase. All vehicle controls are operable from the control station. A proportional joystick is used to `'fly" the vehicle in the horizontal plane, and a rotary knob is used to adjust vertical thruster speed and thereby adjust vehicle depth. Another rotary knob is used to control light output, and there are controls to tilt and focus the forward-looking color camera. Dimensions of Tech Model (LxWxH): 13.75 in X 9 X 8.5 inWeight of Tech Model (lb): 8 lbsTether length: 125 ft (neutral buoyant)Operating temp: 32 to 122 F


The RUCS is a fully developed technology that is now commercially available for underwater inspection and radiological characterization. It performs typical characterization to gather information required for owner facility to make intelligent decisions regarding D&D operations. The RUCS was used to characterize several areas inaccessible to baseline technology. It has the potential to reduce labor costs and increase worker safety in any facility with nuclear pools and canals. The RUCS reduced overall costs by approximately 40% when compared to the baseline technology. The RUCS increased worker safety because fewer personnel had to be present in the contamination/canal area. The RUCS was able to characterize many areas more effectively than the baseline technology, because of its ability to "fly" directly up to objects and its ability to access some areas inaccessible to the baseline technology. The RUCS reduced waste because less personal protective equipment (PPE) was required to perform the work. There were instances where the baseline technology could access areas inaccessible to the RUCS.


The only significant technology limitations were the inability of the system to gather radiological characterization data from inside vertical pipes and tubes. This is due to the fixed horizontal orientation of RUCS radiation detector and the overall size of the vehicle. It is doubtful that this limitation could be addressed easily It was noticed that the radiation sensor was pushed back approximately one inch during the course of the demonstration. It is mounted in a pair of friction clips and apparently was moved when the vehicle contacted items while taking radiation readings. This is not serious, but the radiation sensor should be secured to prevent horizontal motion. The video quality of the baseline technology was slightly better that the RUCS video. Most DOE facilities with canals or pools have requirements for visual inspection of equipment and materials mounted or stored underwater. When these facilities are prepared for D&D, radiological characterization of items in the pools and canals must be performed to dispose of wastes properly and understand the hazards to personnel.




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