Robotic inspection system for non destructive evaluation (NDE) of pipes

MacKenzie, Liam David and Pierce, S.G. and Hayward, G. (2008) Robotic inspection system for non destructive evaluation (NDE) of pipes. In: Proceedings of the 35th Annual Review of Progress in Quantitative Nondestructive Evaluation. American Institute of Physics, pp. 1687-1694. ISBN 978-0-7354-0629-2

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Abstract

The demand for remote inspection of pipework in the processing cells of nuclear plant provides significant challenges of access, navigation, inspection technique and data communication. Such processing cells typically contain several kilometres of densely packed pipework whose actual physical layout may be poorly documented. Access to these pipes is typically afforded through the radiation shield via a small removable concrete plug which may be several meters from the actual inspection site, thus considerably complicating practical inspection. The current research focuses on the robotic deployment of multiple NDE payloads for weld inspection along non-ferritic steel pipework (thus precluding use of magnetic traction options). A fully wireless robotic inspection platform has been developed that is capable of travelling along the outside of a pipe at any orientation, while avoiding obstacles such as pipe hangers and delivering a variety of NDE payloads. An eddy current array system provides rapid imaging capabilities for surface breaking defects while an on-board camera, in addition to assisting with navigation tasks, also allows real time image processing to identify potential defects. All sensor data can be processed by the embedded microcontroller or transmitted wirelessly back to the point of access for post-processing analysis.