True to the spirit and ethos of a hackathon, the event sees itself less as a competition and more as a collective exercise that offers the international robotics elite and nuclear experts the opportunity to network, exchange information on the latest developments and advancements and compare different approaches to solving demanding, realistic tasks.
Nevertheless, the event is organized like a competition. The participating teams can enter and compete in different disciplines. The teams are called upon to perform tasks in the fields of Exploration – reconnaissance and highly precise mapping of infrastructure including measurement and mapping of leaked radiation – Manipulation, and Search & Rescue.
Challenging tasks at a height of 40 meters and into the heart of the reactor
Exciting scenarios are on the agenda in every category. The first edition of EnRicH took place on the reactor level at a height of 40 meters, for instance. To get there, the robots – some of which weighed in at more than a metric ton – first had to be lifted by crane, a formidable challenge.
And at the second edition of EnRicH, in 2019, a total of ten international teams and their robots were also severely put to the test. This time, although the obstacle course was on the ground floor of the nuclear power plant, it included the reactor area and even extended into it.
Here, too, the characteristic features of a nuclear power plant demanded a great deal of skill from the teams and the robots alike. Problems included lack of light, narrow corridors and doors, steep stairs and massive concrete walls, which made any kind of radio communication extremely difficult.
In the true hackathon spirit, the participants once again took it as a sporting challenge. After the first test runs without active sources of radiation, the pit lanes where teams and their robots were positioned were a scene of heated discussion, programming and fine-tuning to get software and equipment ready for the actual competition.