New technology skips the conversion of 3D point clouds to CAD geometry to create an automatic path finder.
Nuclear plant operators use as-built models to determine access paths for equipment and mobile robots, which must traverse areas humans cannot generally visit. New software from Kineo CAM makes it possible to find these paths directly from within point cloud data, without the long and tedious process of converting the 3D scans into CAD geometry.
Until now, the as-built 3D reconstruction of an industrial plant model (nuclear or otherwise) was a long and tedious process, especially in finding collision-free removal paths:
Step 1: Create a 3D point cloud by laser scanning the area. In the case of nuclear plants, this can be a major project, given the short amounts of time technicians can be in the plant.
Step 2: The 3D point cloud model is manually converted into a surface or polygonal 3D CAD model.
Step 3: The path of the mobile robot or the equipment to be removed is manually defined by an operator through a time-consuming trial and error process using interference checking tools.
Step 4: Potentially the same as step 3 for the inverse operation (dismounting – remounting)
Step 5: The production of documents, animations and videos to support whatever action plan is put into place.
Kineo CAM’s new technology eliminates steps 2 through 4, allowing users to find paths directly inside point clouds. The interference checker ensures dynamic and real-time collision checking, quickly detecting collisions or displaying distance measurements between 3D objects and Point Cloud models. The collision-free path finder is automatic; the user only specifies the start and goal positions with the appropriate kinematic model of the robot or of the equipment, and it returns several valid paths respecting distances of clearance to obstacles.
Kineo CAM (Toulouse, France) collaborated with Promation Engineering Ltd. (Oakville, Ontario), a designer and manufacturer of tooling, automation, and robotic systems for the automotive and nuclear industries. “Benefiting from Promation’s expertise in laser scanning processes to produce as-built 3D plant models, we were able to enhance our software technology to automatically find access paths of equipments and mobile robots directly from a 3D point cloud model of an existing power plant. This technique opens the way to tremendous time and cost savings in maintenance, refurbishing and dismantling of existing plants in the energy field,” says Laurent Maniscalco, Kineo CAM CEO.
The software products KCD for Point Cloud and KineoWorks are available as software components for integration into third party software applications, as well as part of Kineo CAM’s Kite, a standalone solution. A video from Kineo CAM shows how the path planning and collision detection takes place in point cloud data.