HVRC VRdose

HVRC VRdose® is a real-time software tool for modelling and characterising nuclear environments, planning a sequence of activities in a modelled environment, optimising protection against radiation, producing job plan reports with dose estimates, and briefing stakeholders.

VRdose® 3D ALARA Planning & Briefing Software

The Concept

HVRC VRdose is a real-time software tool for modelling and characterising nuclear environments, planning a sequence of activities in the modelled environment, optimising protection against radiation, and producing job plan reports with dose estimates. It offers the possibility to refine the radiological model to improve the accuracy of estimates and configure the dosimetric output provided. The software can also be used as an aid to producing post-work review reports, with real measurements included. Furthermore, the software provides support for presenting information to different types of users for briefing and decision-making, thus serving as an aid to communication between stakeholders in an intervention.

To support the user in interpreting the results of calculations, the VRdose Planner provides charts, graphs, and 3D radiation visualisation, updated immediately to reflect any changes to the modelled radiological condition, such as changing shielding materials, and human activities over time. The VRdose Briefer is a dedicated presentation tool for communicating scenarios prepared using the Planner.

Applications:

  • Preparation for jobs in radiological environments
  • Preparation of work permit requests and preparation of radiological work permits
  • Briefing of staff, contractors, and other stakeholders
  • Post-job analysis and reporting
  • Education and training in radiation protection and ALARA mindset
  • Testing and visually assessing the results of new dose calculation models

Product Information and Documentation

For a detailed introduction, please download the HVRC VRdose System Overview (PDF), which explains the concepts and workflow supported by the software.

Prices and Licensing

Contact vrdose-support@ife.no for information on licensing VRdose.

History

The original VRdose system was developed by IFE in collaboration with the Japan Nuclear Cycle development institute (JNC) in 1999-2003, to support the decommissioning of the Fugen Nuclear Power Station in Tsuruga, Japan. The current system adopts some basic concepts from the original but not the original code base or file formats. The HVRC VRdose system shares it’s core software code base with the Halden Planner, which is available free of charge (and as-is) to OECD Halden Reactor Project member organisations and associates.

Features

Key Features

HVRC VRdose supports real-time calculation of shielding effects, doses, and relative contributions to dose by different isotopes, enabling the rapid evaluation of alternative protection optimisation or maintenance procedure scenarios. To support the user in interpreting the results of calculations, the VRdose Planner provides charts, graphs, and 3D radiation visualisation, updated immediately to reflect any changes to the modelled radiological condition, such as changing shielding materials, and human activities over time.

Overview of key features:

  • Supports modelling of radiological conditions
  • Supports real-time calculation of shielding effects, doses, and relative contributions to dose by different isotopes, enabling the rapid evaluation of alternative job scenarios
  • Provides visualisation of potential hazards to support risk-informed decision making
  • Supports users in following existing job planning procedures and fulfilling reporting requirements
  • Can be interfaced with alternative dosimetry models and calculation codes in order to compare results or apply site-specific radiological modelling methods (and can also import sets of static dose maps)

VRdose supports multiple languages. The user interface (menus, buttons, labels, etc.) is currently available in English, US English, Norwegian and Russian.

Interfaces for Customisation, Integration, and Extension

The software is designed to support easy extension to support new functionality, and to integrate into existing information architectures. While the standard system uses an embedded SQL database, customisation of the software is possible through bilateral projects, to bridge to alternative data sources, in particular for plant geometry data or historical radiological data. A plugin application-programming interface is supported to enable the use of alternative radiation/dose calculators to those provided by us.

Benefits

Apply ALARA principles efficiently to improve safety and lower costs

A significant motivation behind the VRdose system has been to make advanced, radiation exposure situation analysis technology accessible to a broader range of users, who can benefit from an interactive 3D visual representation of radiation risks to support ALARA optimisation. By integrating radiological information with 3D models of nuclear facilities and environments, to facilitate risk-informed planning and work execution, we aim to support the optimisation of radiological protection for activities in nuclear environments and enhance safety culture, by increasing stakeholders’ comprehension of radiation risks, thus contributing to improving safety in nuclear facilities.

Support organisational learning

Once scenarios have been prepared and the planned work has been executed, the scenarios themselves can be useful for preparing case studies for best practices for educational purposes, and the radiation visualisation capabilities can be useful for the training of new employees and contractors. Furthermore, over time, the historical data accumulated in the database can serve as a useful digital archive which, given sufficient amounts of data, may be useful for statistical analysis and other data mining activities to support organisational learning.

System Overview

System Users

HVRC VRdose is aimed at three main classes of end-user:

Radiation Protection use the software to model radiological conditions, optimise the placement of shielding to support work in specific areas of a nuclear facility, and evaluate the radiological consequences of the existence of different isotopes in a nuclear facility over time. Also use measured dose-rate values as an aid to modelling radiological conditions as accurately as possible.

Engineering uses the software to produce pre-job work descriptions for planned work with descriptions of activities and estimated durations. Use the software to optimise routes, work locations, waiting locations. Provide feedback to Radiation protection if necessary. Also use the software to support the production of post-work experience review reports.

Instructors use the software to communicate radiological conditions or a job description to staff or students. Instructors may have either (or both) a work planning or radiation protection background.

Radiation Protection and Engineering staff would normally collaborate to agree on the area in which work will take place and to optimise the positioning of shielding and other countermeasures related to the radiation exposure situation.

System Description

The software system comprises of the following main components

  • VRdose Planner: Main tool with 3D workspace used to access, add, and manipulate data in the database, and produce reports
  • VRdose Briefer: A dedicated 3D viewer for presenting scenarios prepared using the VRdose Planner in briefing situations
  • An integrated database, in which data used by the VRdose Planner and Briefer is stored

Data is typically imported into the VRdose Planner from files and/or a database, and include:

  • Detailed 3D geometry to visualise a nuclear facility or environment
  • 3D geometry representing tools and equipment required to carry out a job
  • Isotopic characterisation of sources (historical data, recent surveys, etc.)
  • Dose-rate maps (if an external dose modelling system is used to produce dose maps)
  • Actual dose-rate measurements

The VRdose Planner can be used to produce:

  • Scenarios with job activities and trajectories that can be replayed as animations
  • Dose graphs per worker or dosimeter in a scenario
  • Pre-job work reports with a description of a scenario and the associated dose predictions
  • Post-job experience review report given the entering of measurement data made when a scheduled job described in a scenario was actually carried out.

In order to define radiological layouts and job scenarios, information is imported from files, entered interactively through direct manipulation of 2D UI components or 3D objects using a mouse, or filling in forms with a keyboard. The user is supported in decision-making and evaluation of alternative scenarios through 2D charts and graphs and 3D plots of radiological conditions. Data entered is stored in a database and subsequent planning activities are thus able to use radiological conditions modelled previously, or expected as the result of planned work that is scheduled, as the starting point for planning further activities. Historical data for jobs that have been completed is available for use by instructors to support the training of staff, learning from past experience, while team leaders can brief workers on planned activities. The combination of graphs, 3D visualisation, and animation of planned work sequences make this a powerful communication aid.

Most data provided to model radiological conditions and to simulate job scenarios are entered interactively using an interactive 3D workspace. Objects in a layout and participants in a scenario are introduced to the workspace using a 3D drag and drop user interface, and some objects have parameters that can be manipulated directly or by entering values. In order to convey a sense of the dimensions of the layout and objects modelled, the user can display a grid with user-configurable spacing and also display the dimensions of selected objects, including routes/trajectories for objects or workers that move during a scenario. Free camera navigation is supported to enable the user to position a virtual camera, and target based travel techniques, including pre-defined and custom viewpoints and “go to selection” are supported.

3D Geometry Data Management

While the VRdose Planner can be used to model simple scenes using an empty floor situation to which source and shielding are added, detailed 3D models are normally added to the system database in a geometry interchange format. In the first version of the VRdose Planner, only the ISO VRML97 geometry data format is support for importing models to the Model Bank. Most CAD systems are capable of export 3D models in ISO VRML97 format, and third party geometry conversion tools and services are available for CAD systems that do not support direct export in this format.

In the Model Bank, we distinguish between Rooms (e.g. the nuclear facility itself) and 3D models that can be added to a layout by the user as part of a scenario, such as tools and equipment needed to perform a job. Rooms can be date-tagged in the Model Bank, so the system can thus determine which of multiple versions of a plant model to use depending on the date associated with a scenario and the date of a model version. In theory, this makes it relatively easy to integrate any existing 3D plant databases by importing date-specific plant models as “Rooms” into the VRdose Planner.

VRdose Terminology

  • Scenario: A collection of participants that perform actions over time in a room. A scenario always has a specified start and end date, and a status (draft, scheduled, completed etc.)
  • Participant. An object that can be added to a room, thus participating in a scenario
  • Room: A virtual environment in which a scenario takes place. It is typically represented as a single static 3d model representing a building. While static within the scope of a single scenario, there may be multiple variants of a room model representing the (planned or actual) state of the building at specific dates/times
  • Layout: A static representation of the virtual radiological environment that represents a snapshot at a specific time that can be used as a reference scene configuration for new scenarios. Typically comprises of room + sources + shielding, but sometime other equipment left as the end state of a related job (e.g. a job is spread over several days represented by separate scenarios)
  • Project: A collection of related scenarios and layouts, with additional common project meta-data (expected start date, expected end date, description, references)

Dosimetric Models

Advantages of Real-Time Dosimetric Models

The literature on radiation transport is quite vast, and a broad selection of tools for radiation transport calculation is available. The HVRC VRdose® system is based on a dosimetric package that has been designed to enable reasonably accurate real-time 3D dosimetric computations in a flexible way.

  • Real-time response is a feature that enables very efficient optimization of work strategies, by allowing users to explore and document alternative scenarios (e.g. biological shielding configurations) in real-time.
  • Real-time tools also offer a powerful advantage over non-real-time tools by enabling radiation risk assessment in dynamically changing environments, where the radiation situation is dynamically altered by changes to radiation sources and biological shields. While this is also useful for planning non-routine activities during the operational phase of a nuclear facility, it is especially useful during the decommissioning phase where the environment is continuously changing.
  • Enabling rapid real-time risk assessment could also contribute to saving human lives in a radiological accident situation by supporting decision-making in a stressful situation.
  • Real-time capability also enables virtual reality based interactive training, where the trainees are able to see the consequences of any of their actions to the exposure conditions in real-time.

While non-real time tools can provide a high level of accuracy in theory, we believe that real-time tools are more suitable for the tasks listed above. In order to achieve real-time capabilities, great demands are made for the performance of the radiation transport techniques applied, limiting the options to those techniques capable of high-speed calculation while still yielding reliable results. This requirement effectively rules out sophisticated radiation transport models such as those based on detailed Monte-Carlo techniques, but is also demanding for deterministic radiation transport techniques. VRdose is supplied with highly optimised Point Kernel based radiation transport models in order to achieve our goals.

Flexibility and Extensibility

It is not always possible or advisable to use a point kernel based radiation transport model. We need to bear in mind the following points:

  • Radiation transport simulation requires adequate knowledge about the radiation sources in a scene. In situations where such data is missing, radiation risk assessment is still possible, if suitable scattered data (a set of dose measurements) are available.
  • Deterministic radiation transport techniques become increasingly unreliable for calculating dose with increasing contribution of scattered radiation. In such situations measurements, quantifying the contribution of multiply scattered photons, can be taken into account in addition to the radiation transport calculations.
  • There are additional efficient dosimetric methodologies that can be applied in transitional situations, where some knowledge about the radiation sources is available in addition to measurements.

Therefore, in addition to radiation transport techniques, the VRdose system also supports the use of other dosimetric models, based on interpolation and other techniques, in order to offer a tool that can adapt to using the best radiological input data available. VRdose includes an open programming interface that can be used to develop plugin-in software modules to integrate additional dosimetric models into the system. It can also import sets of dose-maps produced entirely independently using other software, in addition to dose-rate measurements registered in the field.

Further Reading about the Radiation Transport Models Applied in VRdose

Radiation Visualisation

To some extent, industrial work will always involve risks and hazards, and the mitigations of these. One health hazard associated with work in nuclear environments is radiation exposure due to inadequate awareness of radiological conditions. Employing radiation visualisation to evaluate and communicate available data is an increasingly used means of improving radiation awareness in the work force and decision makers.

The objective of radiation visualisation in interactive 3D software applications is to provide unambiguous information in a number of situations, including training of new staff or contractors, planning work out of the ordinary, and communication with external parties, such as regulatory bodies and guests.

Given a set of sources and a shielding configuration, or a set of pre-calculated dose maps, the HVRC VRdose® system enables the user to toggle 3D visualisation of the radiological conditions in order to support decision-making related to the radiological situation. Several 2D and 3D visualisation techniques are offered that can be user-configured and combined. The visualisations are colour coded and the user can select between user-configurable sets of colours, which map radiation levels (dose-rates) to colours. The software supports switching between visualisation configurations and colour sets on the fly.

When employing real-time 3D dosimetric calculations, it is possible to immediately see the effects of introducing, modify, or removing shielding, and to obtain an understanding of the radiation distribution in 3D. This can aid in understanding exposure risks that would not be registered by a dosimeter worn at chest height, potentially avoiding dangerous situations such as ones with high-levels of exposure to the head where the rest of the body (and dosimeter) is shielded. Examples of this are shown in our videos of the system in action. The speed of the software enables rapid optimisation of shielding effects and is well-suited to briefing workers and explaining the potential consequences if shielding is not put in place correctly as intended.

In addition to a range of volumetric and slice-type 3D visualisations, VRdose® also provides information visualisation in the form of trend graphs, pie-charts, and other visual presentation of information to aid understanding of radiological models and scenarios.

Some of the visualisation techniques supported by the system are illustrated in the screenshots above. Note that these can also be combined to great effect (e.g. combining a point cloud with varying point density with a 2D slice/plane or a volumetric isosurface).

Screenshots and Videos

For more screenshots and video illustrating the use of radiation visualisation techniques in VRdose, sett the VRdose Screenshots.

Further Reading about the Radiation Visualisation Techniques applied in VRdose

Screenshots and Videos

User interface overview

Below are a couple of movies that demonstrates the VRdose Planner software in action. Note that the calculation of dose is done in real-time during playback of the scenario:

HVRC VRdose® for Nuclear Decommissioning

The HVRC VRdose® system is being extended to address decommissioning-specific requirements in order to meet the growing global interest in innovative ways to improve efficiency and manage risk in nuclear decommissioning projects By offering advanced 3D simulation technologies in an easy-to-use manner, our overall goals are to improve efficiency, safety and transparency for nuclear decommissioning projects. While VRdose already provide a great deal of functionality useful for nuclear decommissioning, we are continuossly updating the system to provide new and improved functionality based on feedback from end-users and our own experience from deploying the system in real world.

Challenges and VRdose-based Solutions

Challenge: Risks and costs are strongly dependent on the radiological conditions, but estimating radiological conditions is challenging!
VRdose: Provides advanced radiological data management and radiological characterization to

  • manage risk (though more accurate risk estimation and better-informed decision making)
  • reduced cost (through optimisation of sampling and measurements, and improved radwaste management)

 

Challenge: Risk estimation and work optimization is challenging! The availability of radiological data varies, and radiological conditions and associated risks change dramatically over time.
VRdose: Provides efficient solution for dynamic estimation of risks and optimization of work plans enabled by real-time 3D radiological simulation.

 

Challenge: Suboptimal allocation of staff and resources leads to delays and extra cost!
VRdose: Provides means to estimate risks (e.g. personal doses) and resources required (tools, manpower, radwaste storage, etc.) to support advanced planning of the overall strategy.

 

Challenge: Transparency towards authorities and stakeholders is necessary for efficient completion! Ambiguity can result in requests for more information, contributing to delays.
VRdose: Enables effective communication through easily understood visual simulation of planned activities and visualisation of safety barriers, to demonstrate management of ALARA risk to workers, the public and the surrounding environment.

 

Challenge: Tasks are different from those in the operation phase, so Education and training of field operators are crucial!

  • Field operators with experience from the operation phase of a facility being decommissioned may have limited knowledge of the new tasks and challenges related to the decommissioning process
  • Field operators hired to bring required skills from outside the operational organisation may be unfamiliar with the environment and internal protocols, or even come from other industries
VRdose: Enables effective briefing and classroom training based on realistic 3D simulation of planned tasks and visualization of the radiological risks associated encourage the required safety mind-set.

 

Challenge: Real-time monitoring of work and communication is necessary due to the dynamic nature of exposure conditions, strong dependence of the risk to field operators on the actions of other members of a team, and the potential of severe hazards to the public and the environment in the event of an accident.
VRdose: Supports effective monitoring of work and communication using dynamic visualization of risk distribution based on simulation and measurements can aid in detecting deviations from the expected situation.

Further Reading about using VRdose for Decommissioning Activities

System Requirements

The minimum recommended requirements for the system are:

  • Intel Core i5 x64 processor
  • 6GB RAM
  • 400MB free disk space
  • Microsoft Windows 7 64-bit or Mac OS X 10.8
  • 3D Graphics accelerator card or GPU with OpenGL 3.3 support
  • A three-button mouse (or a two-button mouse with scroll-wheel “button”)

The software can sometimes be used on a less powerful hardware however system performance will not be optimal.

Our recommended requirements for the system are:

  • Recent Intel processor (from 2011 or newer)
  • 8GB+ RAM
  • 1GB free disk space
  • Microsoft Windows 7 or Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite
  • AMD or NVIDIA 3D Graphics accelerator with support for OpenGL 3.3 or greater and at least 512MB memory
  • A three-button mouse (or a two-button mouse with scroll-wheel “button”)

The software is easiest to use with a three-button mouse (including two-button mice with a scroll wheel “button). When used with a two-button mouse, use the alt-key on your keyboard in combination with the left mouse button to simulate the middle mouse button. If you have a single-button mouse, use the control key in combination with the mouse button to simulate the right mouse button.

Download

To download VRdose, please go to the

HVRC VRdose Download Area

Note that in order to run the software, you will need to purchase a license key file or request a time-limited demonstration license key from vr-info@hrp.no

Support

Sales and Technical Support

Please send requests/ideas, questions, or comments about VRdose to vrdose-support@ife.no

Registered users have prioritised technical support.

Issue Reporting

Please send bug reports to: vrdose-support@ife.no.

When submitting bug reports, please include the following information:

  • A description of the result and how it differed from what you expected.
  • The conditions or circumstances under which the problem occurred.
  • Any other information that could be useful to isolate the problem.

When sending bug reports, please include (if possible) a copy of the technical details in the about box (use the save button in the ‘About’ window to save it to file). The about box can be accessed via the Help menu.

Training

Training and courses in the use of HVRC VRdose and ALARA principles for radiological protection can be provided by IFE. Contact us for a quote.

Modelling Assistance

We can assist in conversion of CAD models, preparation of model bank objects, and provide guidance on 3D geometry modelling of facilities. We can also assist with tasks related to the radiological modelling and optimisation. Contact us to discuss your needs and we will provide you with a quote for our services.

For high quality conversion of 3D CAD data to ISO VRML97 or ISO COLLADA from CAD systems with limited support for those formats, we recommend the commercial third-party tool Polytrans from Okino. Note that the Okino website also provides excellent advice on which formats to use for data interchange from various 3D modelling and CAD tools. If you think that you may need this tool, or are unsure if you will need it, then feel free to contact VRdose support for advice.

Customisation and Site-specific Integration

The software itself can be customised for integration into existing information architectures and work flows. We can offer programming and integration assistance services to

  • Integrate with existing databases for
    • Radiological source and measurements
    • 3D plant geometry (alternative to “Room” in integrated Model Bank
  • Pre-configure default visualisation technique setting and colours to conform to organisation standard
    • Maybe also disabling end-users access to modify/customise personal preferences for these
  • Implement additional visualisation techniques
  • Customise report output (and input) to use custom templates that output reports in a specific style or format
  • Integrate with other dosimetric packages

Please contact us to discuss your needs.

IFE offers research on assignments. Please contact:

Louka, Michael

Virtual and Augmented Reality,

+47 413 17 768

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