The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has invested £4.6 million in the development of next generation nuclear robots.
The research group developing the robots is comprised of the universities of Manchester, Birmingham, and UWE. It also includes experts from Sellafield, EDF Energy, UKAEA and NuGen.
The aim is to develop robots with improved, power, sensing, communications and processing power for use in the cleanup of nuclear facilities.
According to the group, the cost of cleaning up the UK’s existing nuclear facilities has been estimated to be between £95 billion and £219 billion over the next 120 years.
Unfortunately, current robotics technology is not capable of completing many of the tasks that will be required, the group added
Barry Lennox, who is leading this project, said: “This programme of work will enable us to fundamentally improve RAS (robotics and autonomous systems) capabilities, allowing technologies to be reliably deployed in to harsh environments, keeping humans away from the dangers of radiation.”
The hope is that new technology will also be able to operate without direct supervision by humans.
Within the next five years, the researchers expect to produce prototype robots that could be trialled in both active and inactive environments.
It is also thought the technology could be deployed in other hostile environments such as space, sub-sea, and mining, as well as in bomb-disposal situations, the research group said.
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