Sellafield nuclear site holds robotics challenge

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Sellafield Ltd, the government agency responsible for the operation and clean-up of the Sellafield nuclear site in the UK, has held its latest Game Changers session, with a focus on robotics.

In the decommissioning of the site, Sellafield uses a range of robots that run differing operating systems in various languages, which limits flexibility and results in difficult and expensive robotic deployment.

As such, the online event, held earlier this month, brought together some 31 representatives from 26 organisations across the UK to solve the problem of how Sellafield gets its different robotic technologies to communicate with each other in one language.

Chris Ballard, robotics and artificial intelligence integrated research team lead at Sellafield Ltd, said: “In most industries each machine does its job in isolation so there’s no need to standardise. Because of this we weren’t sure whether there would be many organisations out there who could provide what we need – but the interest surpassed our expectations.”

Attendees also provided ideas for a modularised ‘plug-and-play’ hardware reconfiguration solution, with Sellafield looking to standardise its hardware and software libraries.

This is just one of the challenges the Game Changers programme is currently working to resolve. Run by the National Nuclear Laboratory and FIS360, the scheme identifies issues in the decommissioning of the Sellafield site before asking supply chain for solutions.

There are currently three ongoing challenges, with a further eight planned.

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