National Centre for Nuclear Robotics

Lancaster University partner information:

Funding: EPSRC, £748k of £11,600k total, 2017–2021

Investigators: Professor C J Taylor (PI), Dr A Montazeri

Project PI: Professor R Stolkin (Birmingham University)

The National Centre for Nuclear Robotics (NCNR) is a consortium of eight universities, including Lancaster University, and led by the University of Birmingham. The NCNR is developing state-of-the-art robotics, sensing and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies to address the major societal challenges posed by nuclear environments and materials. The NCNR will transfer these robotics and AI research advances into practical solutions for a safety-critical and high-consequence industry.

Within the NCNR, Lancaster University Engineering Department will contribute to research on mobility and navigation, grasping and manipulation, and the integration, standardisation and modularity of the developed technologies, among other areas. This involves the development of new control systems and adaptive algorithms for robots working on complex tasks in extreme environments – such as waste handling, cutting, navigation and other manoeuvres related to decommissioning radioactive sites.

Our research concerns both mobile ground-based and aerial robots. Our hardware demonstrators include, for example, a hydraulically actuated, modular dual-arm robot, which has been adapted from off-the-shelf components from BROKK and HYDROLEK. It has been used by Sellafield and the National Nuclear Laboratory for material discrimination trials. The objective of this research is to deliver the next-generation vision and supervisory control systems for faster, safer and more cost-effective robotic operations in challenging environments.

Photo of robotic manipulators

Photo of UR5 robot

Photo of ABB robot