Robots to tackle nuclear waste

The RAS rig at Sellafield

A new project is bringing together expertise from the Universities of Liverpool, Sheffield and Surrey to develop autonomous robots to tackle nuclear waste reduction.

In collaboration with Sellafield Ltd and the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL), the `Automated Robot Waste Processing’ project will take novel research produced from EPSRC-funded `Reconfigurable Autonomy’ project and apply it to demonstrate robotic systems autonomously recognising, manipulating, and storing items of decommissioning waste.

This work brings together three leading university teams with expertise on Autonomy (led by Professor Michael Fisher, Liverpool), Robotics (Professor Sandor Veres, Sheffield) and Vision (Professor Yang Gao, Surrey), with Sellafield Ltd and NNL, to develop and demonstrate new autonomous robotic waste processing techniques.

Professor Michael Fisher, Director of the University’s Centre for Autonomous Systems Technology, said: “Our long term vision is to have this autonomous system working 24/7, without human guidance, to tackle decommissioning tasks at nuclear sites. We believe this work can have significant impact on the UK’s legacy nuclear decommissioning problem.”

“Nuclear waste processing experience has demonstrated that there is an urgent need to devise flexible ways to dismantle, manipulate, sort, and package nuclear facilities and equipment that are past their operational life. The introduction of autonomous robotics into this area promises much greater efficiency and reliability.”

Image: The teleoperated test rig at Sellafeild will be used for this project



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