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SAM: an autonomous vehicle for auscultation of HA cells

The SAM robot (for Mobile Auscultation System) was tested for the first time this month of July 2019 in the Underground Laboratory of Meuse / Haute-Marne. Designed by Andra (Research and Development Department) and Arquimea, it aims to acquire information on the behavior of future HA cells of the Cigéo project, during the operational period.

The SAM robot

At the end of July, the SAM robot was tested in a real situation in the cell AHA1605 (HA type cell demonstrator) recently excavated and instrumented at the Underground Research Laboratory in Bure. SAM has been designed to move with great precision in small confined spaces: an HA waste disposal cell is the equivalent of a 70 cm diameter and 150 meter long pipeline.

The interest of a robotic device such as SAM is to have a mobile system carrying measurement devices for accurately scanning the cells, for example their internal geometry. For this test, three laser sensors with an accuracy of 7μm and a hydrogen sensor were embedded to measure respectively the internal geometry of the liners of an HA cell and the presence of hydrogen.

See you in a year

This first use of SAM has made it possible to verify its proper functioning in conditions close to those of Cigéo, and to test its ability to acquire the sought-after information. The next test of this robot within a year will allow to compare the measurements and follow the evolution of the dimensions of the cell AHA1605 under the effect of its mechanical loading by the rock.

SAM is the first robot of its kind tested by Andra to provide an alternative solution to so-called "permanent" surveillance systems in a cell. The R & D work opens up promising prospects, for example by equipping itself with miniature robots to sneak into the multi-centimeter space between the waste packages and the cell liners or devices at the head of the cell, of the Lidar (laser) type, to auscultate the geometry of a cell all along its length with or without a package in place

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