British engineering firm Red Marine said Friday that it would develop a prototype submersible vehicle that works like a backhoe with a large scoop that can be used for decommissioning storage ponds at nuclear power stations.
The company named the remotely controlled vehicle the STOBOT after its creator Senior Engineer Mark Stobo.
The STOBOT is an “innovative submersible vehicle which can be used to remove sludge, residuals and debris from storage ponds,” the company said.
Red Marine expects to partner with a company within the nuclear power industry to produce a prototype of the vehicle within nine months.
The vehicle is designed as a 6.5-foot submersible with a large, dustpan-shaped scoop in the front and a hopper in the back. A backhoe-style bucket will pivot from a mount in the middle of the vehicle.
“The STOBOT is a versatile and robust work platform with significantly more load capacity that a flying ROV (remotely operated vehicle),” said the company. Material the machine picks up will be transported via “robot conveyor to a skip system,” which will bring the excavated sludge to the surface.
One of the advantages to the system, the company said, was relatively sight levels of disturbance, which allows for easier and more controlled management of the excavation process and less separation of sludge.
The vehicle is operates through umbilical management and comes with its own launch and decommissioning system. The basic concepts were derived from tools in use in the oil and gas sector, said Red Marine Managing Director Joe Orrell, who touted the ability to outfit the STOBOT with a variety of tools to allow for other tasks, such as “cutting, drilling and breaking.”
The company released a short clip that demonstrates how the STOBOT will operate.
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