The ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) is an international nuclear fusion research and engineering megaproject aiming the nuclear fusion as the source of energy in the future. The Cask and Plug Remote Handling System (CPRHS) endows a mobile robot that provides the means to transport heavy and activated loads between the reactor building and the maintenance building. The CPRHS, with dimensions similar to a bus and transporting loads up to 100 tons, has to move in cluttered environments with safety margins of 30 cm.
FORMULA fusion is a project aimed to refine the current concept of AGV for cargo transportation. We present a solution that is characterized by its simplicity without neglecting and compromising the performance in the workfield.
We are three students of Mechanical Engineering and this summer we were involved in a summer internship at IPFN (Instituto de Plasmas e Fusão Nuclear), where we were asked to design an automated vehicle with two steerable wheels for cargo transportation using 3D CAD software.
Initially the goal was to create a scale model of the vehicle to be used at ITER facilities, which transports radioactive matter (such as plasma) and that has to move along an highly confined space, in complex paths. It would serve as a proof-of-concept of that same vehicle in such a way that it would be easier to understand its capabilities, in a practical point of view such as load capacity for a relative small dimension and highly manoeuvrability.
In the early days of our internship, together with our coordinator Alberto Vale, we realized that all the attributes from what we were designing matched perfectly with the features and characteristics of an AGV (Automated Guided Vehicle) – an automated robot, capable of guiding himself alone, and whose final objective is to increase productivity in a certain industry by helping workers moving all kinds of cargo (each AGV is adapted to its specific task).
By that time, the project was no longer only for designing in CAD but also to choose and dimension all components and parts – motors, gearboxes, batteries, wheels, structure, etc.
The project was considered successful by IPFN administrators. It was baptized as “Formula Fusion” and we are already involved in the next stage of it: building the first prototype.
From left to right: Miguel Carreira, António Galhardo and Miguel Santos.