In a groundbreaking stride towards enhancing exploration within the intricate facilities of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), a cutting-edge robotic solution named the CERNquadbot has recently completed its maiden radiation protection test within the Laboratory’s expansive North Area. This innovative four-legged robot heralds a new chapter in CERN’s quest for adaptable and agile robotic companions to navigate challenging environments.
Residing within Building 937, the hub where CERN’s most advanced robots are developed, the CERNquadbot stands out as a promising addition to the Laboratory’s robotic arsenal. Unlike its predecessors, predominantly wheeled or tracked, the CERNquadbot boasts four legs, offering unparalleled stability and maneuverability in cluttered and uneven terrains. Chris McGreavy, a robotics engineer at CERN’s Controls, Electronics and Mechatronics (CEM) group, highlights the significance of this advancement, stating, “There are large bundles of loose wires and pipes on the ground that slip and move, making them unpassable for wheeled robots and difficult even for humans.”
The versatility of the CERNquadbot extends beyond its stability, poised to navigate intricate caverns housing experiments like the ALICE detector. Equipped with advanced control algorithms, these robodogs are primed to monitor environmental conditions and promptly detect anomalies such as water or fire leaks. McGreavy emphasizes their critical role, stating, “They can identify water or fire leaks and other incidents, such as false alarms, in a timely manner, all of which can significantly impact the operation of the machines in the caverns and tunnels.”
Each robot is meticulously designed at CERN to complement its counterparts, optimizing exploration capabilities. While the Train Inspection Monorail (TIM) excels in monitoring vast distances within the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) from above, the CERNquadbot ventures into unexplored territories on the ground beneath the beamline. With its ability to traverse previously inaccessible terrains, the CERNquadbot heralds a new era of exploration within CERN’s facilities. As the Beams department continues to innovate and engineer novel robotic solutions, the future holds exciting prospects for further advancements in exploration and discovery within particle physics.