I’ve just listened to a Webinar “How to Implement Remote Inspection in the Nuclear Energy Sector?” organised by TUV SUD (I’m not sure about the question mark!).
It introduced the idea that one person could “walk the site” wearing smart glasses, while their colleagues watch from a remote location, request the walker stop to look at anything that catches their attention and ask questions through the walker. If accepted, this could complete an inspection with fewer on-site resources and will generate an audio-visual record of the inspection from which the report and conclusions can be written.
I’m not sure this is a particularly new concept; the nuclear industry, and probably others, use remote monitoring to support operators working in difficult areas where there is a balance between having all the skills and expertise to hand and minimising the size of entry teams. The use of smart glasses may be new and maybe adds another option to body worn cameras and infrastructure mounted cameras. The application to teams of off-site inspectors may be novel. The service offered seems to be the full sweep of technology, hardware and software, from the camera to the remote inspectors; with the lessons of experience and training offered as well. This may well be a unique service for the time being but barriers to entry are probably not high.
There were several questions to do with broadband signal, band width, data protection, cyber security and safety with the conclusion that this technique is well within current technical capabilities. It has been used maybe 10 -20 times in Europe and about 50 times in China.
This is an interesting concept and an area that is likely to develop in future. Why send a team of people to a remote site and then into an industrial or contaminated environment when you can send one person, or a robot?
The regulators would have to consider the qualifications and experience required of the on-site inspector, who would be much more than just a camera operator, and the conduct of any such inspection. The industry could consider if the technology has application in normal operations and accident response that adds to the capability already offered by site sensors, including cameras, and body worn cameras that they already use.