A new multi million pound robotic and artificial intelligence (AI) program will be headed by researchers at The University of Manchester in order to clean up the nuclear waste spread all over the world.
Headed by Professor Barry Lennox, Professor of Applied Control in the School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering, the new Robotics and Artificial Intelligence for Nuclear (RAIN) Hub has been awarded £12 million in order to tackle some of the major challenges experienced by the nuclear industry.
The hub will take on world-leading research and develop groundbreaking technologies to address issues such as waste management, fusion, decommissioning, new site builds and plant life extension.
RAIN, besides being headed by Manchester, brings together proficiency from the Universities of Oxford, Liverpool, Sheffield, Nottingham, Lancaster, Bristol and the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), and also global partners from the US, Italy and Japan.
Prof Lennox, who also is part of the University's Dalton Nuclear Institute, says: "This is excellent news, not just for the universities involved, but the entire energy and nuclear sectors. It is also a testament to the world-leading research we are doing right here in Manchester. We have already successfully tested robots at facilities such as Sellafield and in hazardous environments like Fukushima in Japan and this new investment will allow us to take these major developments to the next level."
The funding comes from a wider £68 million awarded from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) of which £44.5 million has been invested, over three and half years, for four research hubs, including RAIN, which will be handled by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
These new Robotics Hubs will draw on the country’s research talent to nurture new developments in the field of robotics and provide the foundations on which innovative technologies can be built. The resulting outcomes from this research will allow us to explore environments that are too dangerous for humans to enter without risking injury or ill-health.
Professor Philip Nelson, Chief Executive, EPSRC
The total funding is obtained from the Government’s £93 million for the robotics and AI in extreme environments program. Innovate UK and the Research Councils play a major role in distributing this funding.
These pioneering projects driven by the very best minds in UK research and industry exemplify the huge potential of what can be achieved through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and the long-term benefits for the UK economy. These are just the first competitions in robotics and AI, there will be further opportunities for businesses in the coming months.
Ruth McKernan, Chief Executive, Innovate UK