TIM the robot inspects the tunnel of the Large Hadron Collider so you donít have to
CERNís Large Hadron Collider holds the title as the worldís largest particle accelerator, boasting an underground circular tunnel thatís 17 miles long. Itís ideal for smashing particles into each other at nearly the speed of light, but making sure such a gigantic structure is up-to-date and working properly is a daunting task ó especially for us mere humans. Thatís why CERNís got TIM, the LHCís robotic inspector that provides real-time monitoring of the vast tunnel system.
Of course TIMís name is an acronym ó as most robot names usually are ó standing for the Train Inspection Monorail. As the name implies, TIM cruises throughout the LHCís tunnels on a monorail track attached to the ceiling. Itís a track that was originally put in place when the LHCís tunnel was the tunnel of the Large Electron-Positron Collider, or LEP, a particle accelerator that operated from 1989 to 2000. The LEP was shut down and dismantled in 2001, so that its tunnel could be re-used to house the LHC.
TIM zooms through the LHC tunnel at a swift 3.7 miles per hour, using a suite of instruments to monitor the tunnelís structure, temperature, and oxygen percentage. The robot can also do radiation mapping, as well as provide operators with visual and infrared pictures of the tunnelís inside. And if thatís not enough, TIM can pull around a bunch of small wagons designed to perform other specific tasks that TIM doesnít do.
Right now, there are actually two TIMS, both of which are parked awaiting commands in an LHC service tunnel. Thatíll do little TIMs. Thatíll do.