Project / Nuclear

Creating a Virtual Reality Dosimeter to assess radiation exposure for human intervention during the ATLAS Id Decommissioning

The aim of this project is to facilitate the planning of tasks and training of personnel in radioactive environments. With VR simulation of radiation dose, the tracking of high doses and planning of optimum paths for different tasks becomes easier and safer. Workers and supervisors will be able to train more efficiently without the constraints of physical location, thus allowing remote training of multiple workers in multiple locations simultaneously.

In 2024, the ATLAS inner tracker (ITk) installation at the LHC (CERN) will commence, which requires the removal of the current inner detector. The decommissioning process presents a radiation hazard to operatives working in the area, and so a VR system is under development to optimise the ergonomics of the decommissioning activities and hence minimise radiation

The VR system operates on Windows (Virtalis Visionary Render) and interacts with connected HTC Vive VR headsets (via Steam VR), worn by two types of user: the Trainee (Worker), and the Trainer (Supervisor). The Worker is immersed within the scene (the ATLAS inner tracker) and has complete agency to act within the virtual environment. The Supervisor is an external observer, and has total control of the scene. They can load pre-defined tasks for the Workers, and monitor their progress in real-time. An accumulated and instantaneous radiation dose for each Worker is automatically calculated and logged throughout the VR task. The radiation dose calculation relies on real dosimeter measurements mapped onto the VR environment, thus facilitating the development of safe operational procedures (SOPs) for use within the hazardous area.

The VR implementation of the ATLAS inner tracker will translate eventually into an augmented reality (AR) system with real-time integration to camera tracking data, thus allowing the physical location and radiation dose estimates of individual workers predicted by the VR system, some corroboration by empirical data.

Forward Thinking

Future iterations of this work will incorporate robotic and cobotic assistants into the decommissioning process and thus reduce the need for human intervention, further reducing radiation exposure. The VR modelling and real-time tracking techniques developed in this project have applications to other areas of nuclear decommissioning in the commercial sector.