List of questions
Can we produce thicker sheets or bulk material of grain oriented steel, and steer the grain orientation?
Grain-oriented electrical (GO) steel is produced to obtain magnetic properties superior to normal steel. Currently it is produced in the form of sheets with a linear orientation of the grains and with a thickness of less than 2mm. The sheets are packed into laminates, cut and assembled together in applications requiring an optimal performance ratio between the magnetic field and the electrical current, such as transformers and electrical motors. To avoid eddy currents, the sheets are generally coated. GO steel is also attractive in special high-field electromagnets in difficult environments where the space for coils is very limited or cooling is not desirable. However, the limited thickness and the linear grain-orientation severely constraints the use and challenges large applications. In addition, the magnetic properties of GO steel is highly sensitive to excessive bending, heating as in welding, and mechanical stresses. The SHiP Collaboration at CERN is currently working on the development of a large magnetic particle sweeper based on six five-meter long magnets with a total magnetic core mass of >1500 tonnes. The transverse dimensions of the magnets are of the order of several meters. The application requires highest possible field gradients (>1.6T), very narrow gaps between the core field and the return field, and an overall complex field shape. For this reason, the application leaves very limited room for coils, no room for cooling, and the support structure should be minimised. The packing factor is essential wherefore gluing sheets is not an acceptable solution. Currently the R&D is investigating the use of 300um sheets which are packed and welded together. Annealing at high temperature to remove the formation of carbon structures is studied to restore the magnetic properties in the welded regions, requiring very large ovens.
How to produce, cut and polish radiation-hard garnet crystals more efficiently for large detector applications?
Future detectors built to explore the energy frontier and the intensity frontier of physics will be operating at very high beam collision rates. As a consequence the detectors will need to provide significantly better precision timing information and granularity than today's detectors. In addition they will need to be tolerant to very harsh radiation environments. For these reason, there is an active R&D ongoing in radiation hard, scintillating crystals coupled to compact semiconductor photodetectors. In particular aluminium garnet crystals co-doped in different ways to increase light yield and shorten the response time, as well as improving the radiation hardness, show very promising results. The construction of complex detectors, such as calorimeters, requires producing thin and long crystals with very high demands on purity, uniformity and polishing to guarantee light transmission and signal speed. These requirements and the large quantities make the application of crystals financially challenging. Breakthrough in the production and processing of garnet crystals would bring very large benefits to detectors both in fundamental research and in industrial applications.
How to construct efficiently large and complex detector absorbers from tungsten alloys, whose composition are driven by the physics application?
Particle energy measurements is based on the technique of absorbing the particle by provoking it to interact in a dense medium. In this process the energy released is captured by integrated active detector components that sample ionisation or scintillating light from the shower of secondary particles. The energy measurements in future detector is severely challenged by the ambitions to further increase beam collision rates. The effect of high beam collision rates is a huge pileup of interactions in the calorimeter absorber that must be disentangled at the level of their location and timing. Overlap between the secondary particle showers can be reduced by increasing the density of the medium and by a fine sampling of the showers allowing reconstruction of the shapes and extent of each shower. Along these lines several projects are underway that investigate the use of absorbers made from tungsten, or tungsten alloys whose composition is optimized with the physics performance, and active sampling elements consisting of scintillating crystals. The structure is relatively complex, requiring new techniques for the construction of the absorber in order to integrate the active elements.
Radiation hardness on greases: Is there a roller screw/lubricant (dry) system that can withstand the conditions in a radiation environment, and take up to 10MGy?
Several equipment (collimators, beam dumps, beam targets, etc.) installed in the accelerator are equipped with roller screws / jacks / actuators. The accelerator environment is made of radiation (High energetic mix-field particles) and a very smooth air circulation guarantying constant temperature (21C) and hygrometry (~70%). The maintenance of such equipment is not easily possible, maximum once a year and without dismounting such equipment from the machine. Such equipment shall be 100% reliable as they have a direct impact on the accelerator operation. For instance, for collimators, we use roller screws and we regularly need to re-grease it (1 every 2 years) as we observed (visually) on some of them a dry aspect of the screw. This situation is not really acceptable because greasing collimators cannot be done by robots and operators a taking dose when each time they perform this maintenance. We are investigating, for years now, different roller screw design (re-circulation, planetary roller screws, etc) that would work with dry lubricant (BALINIT® WC/C (first “hard” layer) + DICRONITE® DL-5 (second “soft” layer)) hoping such lubricant would be more radiation hard (up to 10 MGy) and would guaranty a good behaviour of the screw without any maintenance. We are progressing but we don’t have a final solution yet.
Is there a method to heavily bend 316L tubes (6mm or 18mm) with nearly no deformation?
In HIP designs we do at CERN, we propose to insert 316L SS tubes (6mm or 18 mm diameters) in grooves, precisely machined in Cu ally blocks. Tubes are bent, (180 degrees) and during this process they get deformed, leading to some difficulties in the tube fitting into the grooves. As a direct consequence, there are gaps (1 to 2 mm for 18 mm diameter tubes) between the tubes and the groove that generates problems during the HIP. To solve that problem, CERN is precisely measuring the tubes’shape after bending, and is machining the groove according to the exact tube shape. This process could be prevented if the bending of the tube would generate nearly no deformation.
Can we design a cooling solution in a vacuum chamber that does not include welded seams?
Each time we need to design a new equipment which has to be installed in the accelerator vacuum (Vacuum levels between 10-9 mbar and 10-11 mbar) and which need efficient cooling, we are facing a serious design constraint: the cooling ducts should be without any welded seams as it is a potential source of leak in the vacuum. We would be very interested in finding designs which guarantee the leak tightness while allowing to efficiently cool down the parts located into the vacuum chambers (We deal with equipment extracting few kW to several hundreds of kW of power). So far the HIP technology is very interesting but presents some constraints in the manufacturing/implementation. Maybe integrated design using additive manufacturing techniques of several different materials (Stainless steel/Copper or other material associations with similar or very low CTEs) may enlarge the possibilities?
How can we make use of drones more efficient and more compatible in terms of flying time and having them work autonomously?
Current drone applications are limited mainly by autonomy and accessibility of narrow zones that need aggressive flight techniques. In Big Science Facilities, the areas to inspect and to maintain are wide and they need drones that are able to fly autonomously over long distances. In addition, in areas with the risk of contamination, drones propellers should generate very low wind turbulences to avoid contaminated dust being moved in different facilities regions.
How can we make industrial robots lighter, while maintaining their precision and dynamics?
Increasing only the payload/robot-weight ratio is a ask often very well addressed by cable-driven robots. Though, since robots should fulﬁll certain tasks, a lot of other requirements and constraints are arising, which are all somehow coupled (often indirect proportional) to the payload/robot-weight ratio. The challenge is to optimize all or more of those parameters at the same time. Parameters could be: 1. Payload / Robot-Weight: Good (High) values for cable-driven robots and very poor (low) values for snake like robots. 2. Workspace / Robot-Weight: This ratio is used to classify robots in normal and lightweight (above a certain threshold) robots. Good (High) values for mobile robots (→− ∞) and poor (low) values for industrial pallet robots (high payload in small workspace). 3. Workspace / Robot-Space: This factor can be used to describe how much ﬁxed support structures a robot uses. Robot-Space is considered the space which is necessarily occupied by the robot to reach a certain position and orientation of the endeﬀector. This yields good (high) values for snake like robots (→− ∞) and poor (low) values for cable-driven (∼ 1) robots. 4. Dexterity: Highly redundant mechanical structures like snake robots will provide outstanding dexterity, but poor performance in terms of payload. 5. Accuracy: High positioning accuracy and repeatability will be achieved by rigid robots with low vibrations, but lead to a bulky and heavy design. 6. Dynamics: High dynamics will limit workspace, payload and require powerful (heavy) motors.
How can we increase safety for humans in close human/robot collaborations?
The main challenge of human/robot collaboration lays in the basic principle of robotic arm and mobile robot design. The main performance measure of today’s robots are payload capacity, speed, robustness and precision. To achieve high payload capacity and speed robots must be outfitted with high-torque actuators. For example a standard industrial robot such as Kuka KR10 has a combined payload and mass of 64 kg. The robot motors must be able to accelerate this enormous loads. In order to make the robotic arms robust, most industrial grade robot arms are made of metal. The outside shielding and the robot links are both metal, even tough the shielding could be easily made from lighter materials, such as plastic of carbon-fiber composites. The combination of high mass and high velocities results in a very high kinetic energy while moving. Additionally the metal shielding is very stiff, which means that when it comes in contact with the environment it transfers its kinetic energy rapidly and efficiently. This results in huge damage to whatever it comes into contact with. Just imagine hitting a ball with a baseball bat or mittens, even if the kinetic energy is the same, the mittens are less dangerous. To realize good precision in robotic movements the feedback controllers of the robot must have high gains. This will result rapid movement with high disturbance rejection. This disturbance in structured, ideal, come from the weight of the object manipulated. However when the robot comes into contact with a person it will also recognize it as a negative outside disturbance, and it will counteract it with higher feedback. This means that when a robot hits an operator with great speed and impulse it will not slow down, on the contrary, it will increase its force. This is the reason why industrial robotic arms are so dangerous to work around. For robots to be able to coexist with humans several design changes must be carried out. Softer materials must be used for their coating to reduce the impact of collisions. Their mass must be reduced to lower their kinetic energy (this is also very useful, because less power is needed to move the arm, and less expensive motors can be used). Most importantly the control of the robotic arms must be changed. They have to be able sense the forces introduced by the environment, to be able to slow down when coming in contact with a person. Additionally, vision systems with artificial intelligence must predict and plan to avoid collision with the operators and workers.
How can we make robots for cryogenic and UHV environments?
Big Science facilities often have the needs to inspect cryogenics and Ultra High Vacuum environments. For cryogenic the main focus is to have a sealed area with controlled humidity, thus preventing ice formation on the robot. For UHV the robot has to have perfectly seal all the compartments, to avoid that a positive pressure from inside will destroy this compartments.
How can we make hyper-redundant robots – think for example “snake-like” robots?
Hyper-Redundant robots have a large or infinite degree of kinematic redundancy and are termed ``kinematically redundant,'' or simply ``redundant.'' Redundancy in manipulator design has been recognized as a means to improve manipulator performance in complex and unstructured environments. ``Hyper-redundant'' robots have a very large degree of kinematic redundancy, and are analogous in morphology and operation to snakes, elephant trunks, and tentacles. There are a number of very important applications where such robots would be advantageous.Their highly articulated structures make hyper-redundant robots well suited for niche applications such as inspection of nuclear reactor cores, sampling and remediation of underground toxic waste, and minimally invasive robotic medical diagnostics and surgery. Hyper-redundant robots can also be used as tentacle-like grasping devices for capturing and manipulating floating satellites or to enable complex "whole arm manipulation." Hyper-redundancy can also be used to implement novel forms of robotic locomotion analogous to the motion of worms, slugs, and snakes. Further, hyper-redundant robots can have increased robustness with respect to mechanical failure. While hyper-redundant robots have been investigated for a long number of years, they have remained a laboratory curiosity. There are a number of reasons for this: (1) previous kinematic modeling techniques have not been particularly efficient or well suited to the needs of hyper-redundant robot task modeling; (2) the mechanical design and implementation of hyper-redundant robots has been perceived as unnecessarily complex; and (3) hyper-redundant robots are not anthropomorphic, and therefore pose interesting programming problems.
How can we make robots taking care of continues decontamination and cleaning of Big Science facilities?
Big Science Facilities present several challenging needs for decontamination and cleaning in big and clattered areas. The cleaning and decontamination process are highly dependent on the products and process required to execute them correctly. There are two main approaches, cleaning by contact or spreading a product abundantly. The first type are very complicated due to the required level of precision in the movements, the robotic system has to be able to access every place that requires to be cleaned. If the task wants to be done fully autonomous by the robot a good 3D representation of the object or area is needed, either known in advanced ore created by the robot sensors. On the other hand, if it is going to be in a tele-operated way, the user must be able to know all the forces created by the robot. The other approach, of cleaning by spreading a product is easy since it works the same way we clean our cars. If the environment is structured and the object to clean well defined, it could be some with several robot arms going around it. If the objective is to clean or decontaminate the facility itself or an unknown objects, a drone with a high payload is the best approach. It only needs to carry a pump, and a pipe would go from the drone to a tank. The pipe could even be in the ground to not consume the drone battery. Some firefighters have some interesting prototypes already working with this idea. In any of the cases, if the cleaning process is done in a place where there is people working or passing by, is important to have a system that can work without being any threat to them.
How can we increase the “human touch” for robots working with humans in Big Science?
Interventions requiring objects manipulation are performed by commanding industrial-commercial grippers, used as end-effector on robotic arms, in velocity, without having knowledge of the applied force. When the objects to be handled or manipulated are made of high rigid materials, such as steel, they do not need a fine control to regulate the applied force. In case of fragile objects these interventions will be more difficult to implement without a control that manages the force applied by the grippers. Thus, the object could be broken and human intervention in hazardous environments would be necessary. An idea might be to equip the grippers with i) force sensors in order to obtain information about touch and slippage between fingers tip and the grasped object surface, and ii) an automatic control could solve the problems described above. Furthermore, force, touch and slippage information could be used to return a haptic feedback (e.g. vibrotactile feedback) to operator during the teleoperated task.
How can we increase proprioception in maintenance teleoperation in big science facilities?
Large facilities, which have hazard of ionizing radiation produced during operation, require teleoperation of maintenance tasks. This is due to for example the interaction of the generated beams with matter and its activation and therefore its inaccessibility to humans. Therefore, robot deployment in such big science facilities requires reliable sensor feedback and a certain independency of the incorporated system. To ensure full availability, state of the equipment must be sensed thoroughly. The robot’s battery status is the most obvious example, where the system would seek for a charger. A deployed robot that is equipped with feedback to sense eventual damages on the machine, can prevent itself from being affected using for example electric proprioceptive sensors. If the system is deployed statically, heat or radiation monitoring can be of necessary to ensure operation within the activated areas and can account to faults in the equipment due to accumulated dose effect damages. With increased proprioception, preventive maintenance can be addressed to ensure the effective operation of the facilities. The deployed robotic systems typically must adapt to new tasks and environments for example by changing its morphologies i.e. robot configurations. Current state of the art technologies for example show leveraged machine learning algorithms to derive the precise bending and twisting of soft robotics limbs from the analysis of diffuse reflected light through embedded optical fibres.  Another example can be virtual fixtures could help the robot to avoid collisions if visual perception is integrated. Further, proprioception can be established by using machine learning for autonomous operations and deep learning for object and pose recognition. This could be used in such an environment, since the structure can be explored and mapped beforehand, and the machine could learn from every task performed. Due to the diversity of the tasks, the lack of robot friendly structures within the facilities makes operation sometimes become a challenge. Like most of the times, the usage of robots is not integrated at the facilities design phase. Thus designing machines that can be maintained by robots using appropriate and easily accessible interfaces will increase the availability and decrease human exposure to hazards.  https://www.eenewseurope.com/news/soft-robotics-proprioception-let-machine-sort-it-out