RAIN Hub successfully trials robotic inspection of Dounreay active sites
The Robotics and AI for Nuclear (RAIN) Hub has successfully trialled a robot in an active deployment at the Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd (DSRL) nuclear research facility, now in the process of decommissioning.
A research consortium led by The University of Manchester developing robotic and AI solutions to meet user-led challenges in the nuclear industry, RAIN has worked in close collaboration with Dounreay to identify its Vega robot as ideal to perform essential radiation surveys in areas deemed unsafe for humans.
Dounreay is a significant nuclear research site undergoing decommissioning on the north coast of Scotland. The DSRL team had such confidence in RAIN technologies and processes that they facilitated on-site Vega trials in an active waste store rather than in mock-up conditions, as would be normal practice.
The Vega robot is a small, tracked ROV designed to be a low-cost and modular solution to nuclear challenges. This exploration platform can incorporate a range of sensors, cameras and a manipulator arm, offering full physical, chemical and radiological characterisation of unmapped spaces.
Collaboration with Dounreay has been a huge success for us. Excellent communication has been pivotal to this success. Clear specification of Dounreay's needs helped us develop our technologies to meet their challenges.
Building on the success of initial trials, RAIN continues to develop Vega so it can support decommissioning challenges, including the survey of a legacy duct at Dounreay. RAIN also acknowledges invaluable support from Innovation 2 Commercialisation (I2C), which is highly experienced at facilitating the relationship between technology developer and challenge owner to commercialise innovative technology into nuclear environments.
Ice-9, a University of Manchester spin-out company expert in developing robotic systems for use in nuclear environments, is also supporting technological development.
RAIN expects to continue survey work at Dounreay later in the year, and with I2C it will explore other ways it can help Dounreay and other challenge owners in their decommissioning efforts.