When carrying out tasks in environments with high radiation levels, such as in
decommissioning nuclear sites, it is often essential to use robots rather than people, due to
hazardous radiation. However, the radiation can also damage the electronics inside a robot,
causing it to fail much more quickly, than if it was used under normal conditions. Developing
strategies to prevent such failures will enable the robots to be used for longer.
One such strategy is the use of scrubbing technology, which
reads back data from the memory and corrects errors
that have been caused by radiation damage. In this study,
researchers from the University of Essex developed a selfscrubbing scheme that can be used to protect systems used
in high radiation environments.
To test their new design, they brought it to the ChipIr
instrument, where the high neutron flux replicates long
periods of time in a high radiation environment. They found
their design to be successful and reliable, achieving a
high correction rate and better performance than existing
solutions. Their experiments also showed that the cost of the
hardware needed does not grow linearly with the available
RAM size, making it suitable for devices where limited
resources are available such as mobile robots.
Related publication: “A self-scrubbing scheme for embedded systems in radiation environments.”
2020 IEEE 26th International Symposium on On-Line Testing and Robust System Design (IOLTS)