|Source:||Sandia National Laboratories|
|Date:||7/1/95 Record No.: 10152|
|Contact:||Phil Bennet, 505-845-8777|
Sandia is at the forefront of bringing defense and weapons-related "Intelligent Systems and Robotics" to bear on commercial needs, and has grown to be the leading robotics R&D effort in the U.S. They focus on critical national needs (hazardous waste clean up and manufacturing competitiveness), reducing the time and cost to develop applications of advanced technology into practical systems, and improving the speed, quality and safety of operations. There is a strong emphasis on working with industry, universities and other government facilities.
Their approach is based on an open-architecture communications-based integration of sensors, mechanisms and software. Computer-model and realtime sensor-based control strategies make off-line programming possible, speeding the development of applications and systems.
Historically, DOE's internal need for systems to handle small production lots led to the development of ways to reduce the costs of programming and fixturing.
Specific projects relevant to utilities include robotic welding of spent fuel barrels, saving on the order of $250 million and thousands of man rems of exposure. Another involves hot repairs to boilers--in fossil plants (proprietary--with an unnamed utility)!
This Center is clearly a potentially valuable resource for automating utility operations, as well as for industrial customers who develop or use robotics. A good overview is contained in a booklet called "Sandia is Changing the Way the U.S. Does Robotics." Sandia staff have also authored a number of papers at robotics conferences.