Challenge seeks single voice for complex robotics

By October 5, 2020Nuclear

Sellafield’s quest to solve one of its most complex technical challenges is taking a step towards success with the help of the Game Changers Programme.

As part of its decommissioning mission, Sellafield will be looking to use a wide range of robotic technologies from all over the world and one of its latest Game Changers challenges seeks to find a way of getting the many different robots to “talk with one voice”.  The robotics innovation call aims to identify standardised robotics control architecture which can provide a modular approach to operating all Sellafield robots safely and securely.

More than 30 representatives from a wide range of organisations attended a recent on-line event promoting the challenge. This resulted in a variety of excellent applications from which two organisations have been awarded funding to demonstrate the capabilities of their technology. Createc Robotics, with sites in Cumbria and Oxford, and RACE, part of Oxfordshire-based UK Atomic Energy Authority, will attend Game Changers events in November to showcase their expert programming before a specialist judging panel.

The Game Changers programme, funded by Sellafield and delivered by the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) and FIS360, is designed to help Sellafield find solutions to the many challenges posed by decommissioning. NNL robotic expertise is pivotal to the successful delivery of this latest challenge.

Sellafield uses robotic technology for remote handling and inspection. This helps minimise employee exposure to hazardous environments and increase working time in challenging arenas. Chris Ballard, Sellafield’s programme manager for robotics and artificial intelligence, said: “Our work on the Sellafield site is complex and we bring in technology from all over the world to achieve it. But this then creates problems as this tech is often running on different operating systems in different languages.”

The November events will take place over a total of six days at PaR System’s Europe Handling Solution Centre of Excellence, in Cumbria. In line with Sellafield’s and NNL’s reputation for safety, the events will adhere strictly to Covid-safe guidelines.