On a nuclear site you have to get every gesture right first time in order to minimize risks. Operations must be perfectly planned, tirelessly rehearsed, repeated and executed to perfection. The operators must have the right reflexes and sure gestures. It is natural that they should be able to rely on the latest technological innovations in virtual and augmented reality to accomplish their mission.
Prepared with virtual reality…
Using virtual reality is actually possible to construct a real environment in 3 dimensions and then interact with that environment. It is extremely useful! Intervention scenarios can be tested and validated and operations can be rehearsed.
Today, we have a set of virtual reality technologies adapted by our teams. The immersive room allows operators to simulate their work in a room where everything is reproduced on a real scale (1:1). We also have the “mini-CAVE”, a portable version of the immersive room that can be deployed at project level, on the intervention sites or on the customer’s premises. There are other solutions available too, such as VR headsets (head-mounted displays) or touchscreen interfaces (our SIBAG glove box simulator system, allows us to work on glove box intervention scenarios). Thanks to virtual reality, we can generate simulated accident conditions that would not be feasible to create in reality. Meanwhile, the AREVA teams responsible for dismantling and services work with the MANUELATM solution, a 3D modeling and data acquisition tool, which, coupled with virtual reality, enables us to visualize an important 4th dimension: the dose of radioactivity.
In December last year these very concrete applications of virtual reality were awarded “Showcase for Industry of the Future” labels by the French Industry of the Future Alliance.
… Executed with augmented reality
Augmented reality is very useful for actual operations on the ground. This technology enable virtual elements – in 2D or in 3D – to be projected within a real environment: these elements may consist of practical or dynamic information, detailed drawings superposed on existing structures, videos and tutorials giving the procedures for carrying out operations, etc.
For example, our AREVA teams use augmented reality to verify equipment received on a construction site. The “As Built” / “As Designed” system known as TQC² [from the French: “Tel Que Construit” / “Tel Que Conçu”] works with a simple touch-screen tablet. While filming the equipment with the tablet’s camera, it is now possible to overlay the original drawings and then record whether or not the part conforms. The system was developed by the SME Diota specialized in industrial applications of augmented reality, in response to a challenge posted on the AREVA SME Innovation platform, which we use to submit our operational innovation issues to SMEs and start-ups and collaborate together to develop solutions.