Robotics and Artificial Intelligence for Nuclear Plus (RAIN+)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Electrical and Electronic Engineering

Abstract

The nuclear industry has a vast array of highly complex and diverse challenges that span decommissioning, waste management, fission power plants, advanced modular reactors and fusion reactors. In the UK, one of the most significant challenges is to decommission legacy storage facilities. There is estimated to be approximately 3,000 tonnes of high-level waste (HLW), 310,000 tonnes of intermediate level waste (ILW) and hundreds of radioactive facilities that need to be decommissioned in the UK alone. Despite significant progress during the first phase of RAIN, decommissioning continues to rely almost exclusively on manual operations, requiring people to enter extremely hazardous environments placing themselves at risk. Significant amounts of personal protective equipment (PPE) is required, which reduces dexterity and lowers productivity to levels significantly below that of other industries. PPE also adds significantly to the waste materials that must be disposed of and as a consequence, makes some future operations infeasible. For example, it has been estimated that more than 1 million suited entries will be required to decommission the THORP plant alone on the Sellafield site. RAI technologies are therefore considered essential if the UK is to address its decommissioning challenges. In the future generation of nuclear power, fusion reactors will not be able to operate without advances being made to remote handling equipment. In addition, remote inspection and maintenance of new fission reactors is essential if they are to be commercially viable.

RAIN+ will continue to push the boundaries of Robotics and AI (RAI) science, developing robotic solutions that solve major challenges facing the nuclear sector. To ensure that the work is relevant, has a long-term impact on industry, and leads to deployments of RAI technology into active facilities, RAIN will continue to work in close partnership with nuclear end-users, the supply chain and regulators. Furthermore, recognising that many of the hazards encountered in the nuclear industry are prevalent in other industry sectors, such as agriculture, construction, offshore and healthcare, RAIN will work to expand its user and application base such that RAI solutions can be developed that have cross-sector relevance and a single hub for all challenging environments, not just nuclear, can be established towards the end of this second phase.

People

ORCID iD

Barry Lennox (Principal Investigator)
Antonia Tzemanaki (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0002-6043-1836
Abdelkhalick Mohammad (Co-Investigator)
Michael Fisher (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0002-0875-3862
Andrew Weightman (Co-Investigator)
Peter George Martin (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0003-3395-8656
Thomas Stuart Richardson (Co-Investigator)
Nick Hawes (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0002-7556-6098
William Harwin (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0002-3928-3381
Guido Herrmann (Co-Investigator)
Maryam Haroutunian (Co-Investigator)
Peter Scarfe (Co-Investigator)
Maurice Fallon (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0003-2940-0879
Malcolm John Joyce (Co-Investigator)
Simon Benson (Co-Investigator)
Jordan Hylke Boyle (Co-Investigator)
Richard James Adams (Co-Investigator)
Thomas Bligh Scott (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0003-2263-6088
Louise Dennis (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0003-1426-1896
Clare Dixon (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0002-4610-9533
Ioannis Havoutis (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0002-4371-4623
Xin Dong (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0001-9337-9379
Joaquin Carrasco (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0002-7499-6408
Simon Andrew Watson (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0001-9783-0147
Gregory Epiphaniou (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0003-1054-6368
Dragos Aurelian Axinte (Co-Investigator)
Farshad Arvin (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0001-7950-3193
Carsten Maple (Co-Investigator)
Nicholas George Wright (Co-Investigator)
Rob Buckingham (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0002-0943-0432
Andrew West (Researcher) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0003-4553-8640

Publications

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