EPSRC Funding Helps Nuclear Decommissioning Worldwide

On the 8th November, 2017, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) made an announcement about four national research hubs for the most recent innovative research and innovation projects in robotics and artificial intelligence systems.

Credit: University of Manchester

As a partner, the University of Bristol will be involved with two of these Hubs, in the National Centre for Nuclear Robotics and The Robotics and Artificial Intelligence for Nuclear (RAIN).

The Bristol team, headed by Professor Tom Scott, Director for Science at the South West Nuclear Hub, is made up of seven academics from across the Faculties of Science and Engineering. The full team comprises of:

  • Professor Tom Scott - Physics
  • Professor Arthur Richards – Aerospace Engineering
  • Dr Tom Richardson - Aerospace Engineering
  • Dr John Day – Physics
  • Dr Oliver Payton – Engineering Mathematics
  • Dr Guido Herrmann – Mechanical Engineering
  • Dr Rob Malkin – Mechanical Engineering

The team will work together with University strategic partners Sellafield, NNL, AWE and Toshiba in order to handle challenging problems in nuclear site monitoring, plant inspection and waste characterization.

In response to the announcement, Professor Scott said: “It’s great to see Bristol do so well for funding in an area of national and international strategic importance. This new funding allows us to accelerate our award-winning research in key areas including nuclear pipeline inspection, UAVs for site monitoring and emergency response and autonomous robotic scanning methods for inspecting ageing nuclear waste packages and infrastructure”.

This is a unique opportunity to really make a different to the way we approach nuclear decommissioning worldwide. Using a robot instead of a human to undertake these complex and sometimes dangerous tasks is a far safer and efficient approach that will significantly reduce the costs of nuclear decommissioning and waste management to the UK taxpayer.

Professor Tom Scott, Director for Science, The South West Nuclear Hub

National Centre for Nuclear Robotics

Project partners: Universities of Bristol, Edinburgh, Essex, Lincoln, West of England, Lancaster University, Queen Mary University of London.

The National Centre for Nuclear Robotics will focus on developing enhanced robotics and AI technologies for nuclear industry applications. These are necessary to help handle nuclear waste and alleviate the requirement for sending humans into dangerous environments. These improvements are also essential for maintaining and monitoring the UK’s present nuclear power stations, and help the safe operation and construction of new-build nuclear power-plants.

The Robotics and Artificial Intelligence for Nuclear (RAIN)

Project partners: Universities of Oxford, Liverpool, Sheffield, Nottingham, Lancaster, Bristol and the UKAEA’s RACE center.

The Robotics and Artificial Intelligence for Nuclear (RAIN) Hub deals with robotics and nuclear engineering experts spread all over the UK and global partners from the US, Italy and Japan. It will undertake globally-leading research and develop groundbreaking technologies in order to address the challenges experienced by the nuclear industry, from waste management and decommissioning and to plant life extension, fusion and new build.

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