By opening four ‘Hot Robotics’ facilities, the University of Bristol is leading a drive to make cutting-edge robotics, drones, and nuclear research testing places available to the public. The national nuclear user facility for hot robots (NNUF-HR) aims to make robotics and facilities accessible to researchers from academia and industry to promote ground-breaking, transformative nuclear research.
Similarly, the University of Birmingham has obtained £42 million in funding to establish the National Centre for Nuclear Robotics (NCNR). The NCNR will lead the cooperation of eight universities in addressing the major challenge of properly cleaning up nuclear waste.
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Qualities in AI and Robotics
Radiation, storage medium, a lack of utilities, restricted access, and unstructured surroundings are all significant dangers linked with the nuclear sector. These dangers imply that certain problems are currently intractable in the absence of remedies based on future robotics and artificial intelligence capabilities (RAI). Not only are reliable robotic systems necessary for future nuclear industry operations, but they also can alter the industry globally. For example, robotic systems will be necessary to examine and assess the integrity and condition of equipment and facilities. In addition, to perform emergency repairs in difficult-to-reach regions of the plant and assist in extending the life of existing nuclear power plants.
Robotics in the Nuclear Power Industry
Nuclear environments have seen the use of several robotic systems. The following table lists the robotic technology being applied in the nuclear power industry.
|Reconnaissance||SMERT-M||Manufacturing Science and Technology Center (MSTC), Toshiba Japan|
|Reconnaissance||PMORPH||Hitachi, Institute for Research, Innovation and Development (IRID) (Japan)|
|Reconnaissance||Mini Mola Mola (underwater reconnaissance)||Toshiba, IRID (Japan)|
|Reconnaissance||RESQ-A||Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute (JAERI/JAEA), Hitachi (Japan)|
|Reconnaissance||MRK-46M||Bauman Moscow State Technical University (Russia)|
|Dismantling and decontamination||Brokk 300, Brokk 800SD||Holmhed Systems AG (Sweden)|
|Dismantling and decontamination||Super-Giraffe||Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), IRID (Japan)|
|Dismantling and decontamination||DX-140||Husqvarna (Sweden)|
|Dismantling and decontamination||SAMM ARM (underwater operation)||Cybernetix (France)|
|Dismantling and decontamination||Falcon (underwater operation)||Saab Seaeye (Sweden)|
|Maintenance and repair of equipment for nuclear power facilities||Pelican (extraction of foreign particles from fuel assemblies)||Framatome (France)|
|Maintenance and repair of equipment for nuclear power facilities||Supreem, Rosa and Pegasys||Westinghouse (USA)|
|Maintenance and repair of equipment for nuclear power facilities||Forerunner||Croatian Institute of Nuclear Technology (Croatia)|
Table Source: Robots in the nuclear power industry
The Robotics Gap in Nuclear Research
Addressing the gap between robotic research and development in other industries and deployment in the nuclear business can be viewed as a complex process driven by various variables. Therefore, when evaluating a tough environment for robots, it can appear that the description should apply not only to the operating conditions but also to the development phase, especially when it comes to nuclear sector innovations.
The Fenswood facility at the University of Bristol provides ample space for developing mobile robotic applications as upgraded tools for environmental field surveying. Its primary capabilities revolve around crewless aerial vehicles and mobile ground vehicles, and it features 245 acres of trial space for drone and ground robot deployments.
To summarise, there is a systematic accumulation of expertise in the nuclear power business with robotics that enables monitoring nuclear facilities, performing radiation surveys, and dismantling structures and equipment in environments with a high radiation background. Robotics and Artificial Intelligence (RAI) are expected to play a significant role. Robotics and artificial intelligence for nuclear (RAIN) will advance modular, reusable robotics to attain cost and efficiency improvements of more than 20% in decommissioning and zero-human entry into nuclear facilities.