|Prof. Tony Pipe|
|EDF Energy, KUKA Robotics, NNL, NDA, Network Rail, Schlumberger|
Led by the University of Manchester, the programme of work will develop robotics technologies capable of operating autonomously and effectively within hazardous environments such as nuclear facilities. 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.
These challenges are extremely demanding and complex, including highly unstructured and uncertain environments containing radiological, chemical, thermal and other hazards, limitations with power, sensing, communications and processing power, as well as complex grasping/manipulation and Human-Robot Interaction challenges.
The Robotics for Nuclear Environments (RNE) research programme is an EPSRC-funded venture between the Universities of Manchester and Birmingham, the Bristol Robotics Laboratory (University of the West of England, University of Bristol) and the National Nuclear Laboratory. Figure 1 shows some of the miniature robots developed by the Bristol Robotics Laboratory.
To achieve the aims of this programme, the work will be divided into four themes:
• Theme I: Low-level system design for robust operation
• Theme II: Collaboration and cooperation
• Theme III: Advanced autonomy for robotic perception, navigation and manipulation
• Theme IV: Scenarios, Demonstrators and Test Deployments
This Programme will deliver fundamental advances in several areas of robotics, achieving impact in the nuclear industry, academic research and other industrial sectors. To achieve this, the Programme brings together leading academic teams in the fields of Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS) and Nuclear Engineering.