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HL-LHC radiation protection robot passes first in-cavern test with flying colours

The CERN CRANEbot successfully handled a vacuum module in the CMS cavern without the need for human intervention in a decisive test for the HL-LHC project


Installation of the VAX module with the CERNbot in the CMS cavern
(Image: CERN)

The CERN CRANEbot is seen here carrying a VAX module (centre of the image) inside the CMS cavern, as part of an operation test conducted in early February 2021. The robot, which has been developed at CERN, had previously been tested in dedicated areas for the specific task before the final test in the cavern for a planned start of operation during Long Shutdown 3.

The versatile and handy CRANEbot has been designed to install and carry out routine maintenance work on a variety of equipment in areas that higher radiation levels caused by the planned tenfold increase in luminosity for HL-LHC will make unsuitable for human intervention. This is particularly relevant for areas at the interface between the collider and the experiments, which house the “VAX” (vacuum assembly for experimental area) equipment. During future maintenance shutdowns, these components will be dismantled and rearranged in a series of independent modules that are adapted for handling and operation by the CERN CRANEbot.

During the test in the CMS cavern, the robot, handled by a crane, was remotely operated to locate the VAX module on its place in the support and then uninstall it. The robot was able to grab and release the lifting rings as well as to assist in the alignment operation on the guide pins in order to correctly reach the support. This successful test marks a significant step forward for the HL-LHC project, as innovative, automated solutions like the CERN CRANEbot will be key in tackling the significant challenges to radiological safety that the HL-LHC will inevitably pose.