Robotics for Nuclear Decommissioning

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


As the legacy storage ponds are emptied the level of water will be gradually reduced. This may introduce a shine path as deposits around the pond wall are exposed. To avoid this problem it is proposed that a robotic system be designed that is able to clean the walls of the pond. While cleaning solutions already exist for swimming pools there is nothing available that would clean the likes of FGMSP for example. This project will investigate several aspects leading to the development of a prototype tool for cleaning pond walls: Robotic Platform: A platform would be designed that would be capable of attaching itself to the pond wall, manoeuvring around and cleaning the wall where necessary. Potential cleaning systems would be analysed and a suitable solution designed and tested. Sensor Systems: The sensory system will need to map radiation levels around the wall of the pond, identify its position and communicate information to a central PC. Path Planning: Path planning algorithms will be designed to manoeuvre around the pond wall whilst avoiding obstacles.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509565/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2021
1839300 Studentship EP/N509565/1 25/01/2017 31/12/2020 Konrad Gornicki
Description The ability to accurately control the position of an autonomous surface vehicle (ASV) inside a nuclear storage pond has many potential applications such as monitoring, sensing and removing contaminants from the pond's wall, tasks that because of elevated radiation dose rates are often dangerous or prohibitive for humans. Unfortunately, there is still no general method that allow ASVs to traverse the pond within a few centimetre stand-off distance of the wall and maintaining its course while cleaning or collecting radiological data.

The current ASV utilised in this work is the MALLARD (sMALL Autonomous Robotic Duck) that took part in the IAEA's Robotics Challenge in summer 2017. Currently Mallard is using
PID controller to track its position while traversing the pond's wall. In order to improve its position accuracy the model based control is going to be implemented, instead of PID controller. So far the physical model of Mallard has been developed. The model has been tested against real robot with satisfactory results. In order to further improve the model, the MALLARD's thrusters are being characterized using thruster test rig. This will allow to include the thruster's characteristics into existing model and thus having more reliable dynamic representation of MALLARD. The incoming tests will consist of Mallard traversing the wall and compared to motion capture system to see how its tracking accuracy improved. Subsequent tests will also include the underwater water-jet mounted on MALLARD's chassis, simulating cleaning equipment, which will show how well can it counteract the reaction forces coming from the water-jet.
Exploitation Route Having improved the tracking accuracy the model based controller can be utilised in further work
focusing on dynamic positioning. This will allow the ASV to maintain its position while retrieving spent fuel or scrap from the bottom of the pond. Moreover, the ASV capable of precise set point tracking can be utilised in improvement of map building and obstacle avoidance inside nuclear storage pond.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Agriculture, Food and Drink,Construction