go to top scroll for more


Projects: Projects for Investigator
Reference Number EP/P01366X/1
Title Robotics for Nuclear Environments
Status Completed
Energy Categories Nuclear Fission and Fusion(Nuclear Fission, Nuclear supporting technologies) 80%;
Nuclear Fission and Fusion(Nuclear Fusion) 10%;
Not Energy Related 10%;
Research Types Basic and strategic applied research 100%
Science and Technology Fields PHYSICAL SCIENCES AND MATHEMATICS (Computer Science and Informatics) 15%;
ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY (Electrical and Electronic Engineering) 20%;
ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY (Mechanical, Aeronautical and Manufacturing Engineering) 65%;
UKERC Cross Cutting Characterisation Not Cross-cutting 100%
Principal Investigator Professor B Lennox
No email address given
Electrical & Electronic Engineering
University of Manchester
Award Type Standard
Funding Source EPSRC
Start Date 01 May 2017
End Date 31 March 2023
Duration 71 months
Total Grant Value £4,650,283
Industrial Sectors Energy
Region North West
Programme Energy : Energy, NC : Engineering, NC : ICT
Investigators Principal Investigator Professor B Lennox , Electrical & Electronic Engineering, University of Manchester (99.994%)
  Other Investigator Dr SA Watson , Electrical & Electronic Engineering, University of Manchester (0.001%)
Professor M Giuliani , Computing Engineering and Maths Science, University of the West of England (0.001%)
Professor AFT Winfield , Computing Engineering and Maths Science, University of the West of England (0.001%)
Dr R Stolkin , School of Mechanical Engineering, University of Birmingham (0.001%)
Professor A Leonardis , School of Computer Science, University of Birmingham (0.001%)
Professor A Pipe , Bristol Robotics Laborator, University of the West of England (0.001%)
  Industrial Collaborator Project Contact , EDF Energy (0.000%)
Project Contact , United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) (0.000%)
Project Contact , National Physical Laboratory (NPL) (0.000%)
Project Contact , Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) (0.000%)
Project Contact , Network Rail Ltd (0.000%)
Project Contact , National Nuclear Laboratory (0.000%)
Project Contact , Sellafield Ltd (0.000%)
Project Contact , Forth Engineering (Cumbria) Limited (0.000%)
Project Contact , KUKA Robotics UK Limited (0.000%)
Project Contact , Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT), Italy (0.000%)
Project Contact , FIS360 (0.000%)
Project Contact , Nu Generation (0.000%)
Web Site
Abstract The vision for this Programme is to deliver the step changes in Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS) capability that are necessary to overcome crucial challenges facing the nuclear industry in the coming decades.The RAS challenges faced in the nuclear industry are extremely demanding and complex. Many nuclear installations, particularly the legacy facilities, present highly unstructured and uncertain environments. Additionally, these "high consequence" environments may contain radiological, chemical, thermal and other hazards. To minimise risks of contamination and radiological shine paths, many nuclear facilities have very small access ports (150 mm - 250 mm diameter), which prevent large robotic systems being deployed. Smaller robots have inherent limitations with power, sensing, communications and processing power, which remain unsolved. Thick concrete walls mean that communication bandwidths may be severely limited, necessitating increased levels of autonomy. Grasping and manipulation challenges, and the associated computer vision and perception challenges are profound; a huge variety of legacy waste materials must be sorted, segregated, and often also disrupted (cut or sheared). Some materials, such as plastic sheeting, contaminated suits/gloves/respirators, ropes, chains can be deformed and often present as chaotic self-occluding piles. Even known rigid objects (e.g. fuel rod casings) may present as partially visible or fragmented. Trivial tasks are complicated by the fact that the material properties of the waste, the dose rates and the layout of the facility within which the waste is stored may all be uncertain. It is therefore vital that any robotic solution be capable of robustly responding to uncertainties. The problems are compounded further by contamination risks, which typically mean that once deployed, human interaction with the robot will be limited at best, autonomy and fault tolerance are therefore important.The need for RAS in the nuclear industry is spread across the entire fuel cycle: reactor operations; new build reactors; decommissioning and waste storage and this Programme will address generic problems across all these areas. It is anticipated that the research will have a significant impact on many other areas of robotics: space, sub-sea, mining, bomb-disposal and health care, for example and cross sector initiatives will be pursued to ensure that there is a two-way transfer of knowledge and technology between these sectors, which have many challenges in common with the nuclear industry.The work will build on the robotics and nuclear engineering expertise available within the three academic organisations, who are each involved in cutting-edge, internationally leading research in relevant areas. This expertise will be complemented by the industrial and technology transfer experience and expertise of the National Nuclear Laboratory who have a proven track record of successfully delivering innovation in to the nuclear industry.The partners in the Programme will work jointly to develop new RAS related technologies (hardware and software), with delivery of nuclear focused demonstrators that will illustrate the successful outcomes of the Programme. Thus we will provide the nuclear supply chain and end-users with the confidence to apply RAS in the nuclear sector.To develop RAS technology that is suitable for the nuclear industry, it is essential that the partners work closely with the nuclear supply chain. To achieve this, the Programme will be based in west Cumbria, the centre of much of the UK's nuclear industry. Working with researchers at the home campuses of the academic institutions, the Programme will create a clear pipeline that propels early stage research from TRL 1 through to industrially relevant technology at TRL 3/4. Utilising the established mechanisms already available in west Cumbria, this technology can then be taken through to TRL 9 and commercial deployment.
Publications (none)
Final Report (none)
Added to Database 07/02/19