Fri. Dec 1st, 2023
    New Robotics Breakthroughs at Sellafield Leading the Way for Nuclear Industry

    Robots at the Sellafield nuclear site in the UK are revolutionizing clean-up and decommissioning efforts, providing valuable lessons and breakthroughs for the wider nuclear industry. The remote operated vehicles (ROVs) department at Sellafield’s Engineering Centre of Excellence is at the forefront of implementing new technologies and finding innovative ways to adapt standard equipment and software for on-site needs.

    One significant breakthrough achieved by Sellafield is the use of a light detection and ranging (LiDAR) laser scanning device on an ROV in a high radiation environment. This pioneering application allows the robot to navigate and create a 3D image of hazardous areas, eliminating the need for human entry. By adding different payloads, such as the LiDAR sensor and a radiation monitor, Sellafield has successfully adapted off-the-shelf technology to suit their specific requirements.

    The success of these advancements has led to other nuclear sites adopting similar technology. Supply chain colleagues have followed Sellafield’s lead and deployed the same technology at their respective sites. This collaboration within the industry is fostering new possibilities and driving continuous improvement.

    In addition to the well-known robot dog, Spot, which is being used for inspections and waste management, Sellafield is exploring the use of other robots for various purposes. For instance, an IPEK crawler robot commonly used for sewer pipe inspections has been employed to assess the structural integrity of pipework up to 250 meters away.

    Furthermore, Sellafield is at the forefront of using ROVs to detect potentially dangerous gases in work areas. In a recent trial, the team utilized a dosimeter designed by the Radiometrics Systems Group to assess gas levels before human workers enter, reflecting the commitment to prioritizing safety.

    By embracing remote technologies, Sellafield is leading the way in the nuclear industry, setting a standard for excellence in decommissioning operations worldwide. These cutting-edge robots not only improve safety by keeping humans out of harm’s way but also deliver significant cost savings and enhance operational efficiency. As Sellafield continues to pioneer new advancements, the nuclear industry as a whole stands to benefit from the invaluable knowledge and experiences gained at the site.


    What is the role of robots at Sellafield?

    Robots at Sellafield play a crucial role in making work safer, faster, and more cost-effective. They are used for various tasks such as inspections, waste management, structural assessments, and even detecting dangerous gases in work areas.

    What breakthrough has Sellafield achieved with robotics?

    Sellafield has become the first in the world to use a light detection and ranging (LiDAR) laser scanning device on a remote operated vehicle (ROV) in a high radiation environment. This breakthrough technology allows the robot to navigate hazardous areas and build a 3D image, eliminating the need for humans to enter.

    How are the learnings from Sellafield shared with the wider nuclear industry?

    Sellafield’s success with robotic technology has prompted other nuclear sites to adopt similar approaches. Industry colleagues in the supply chain have followed suit and implemented the same technology at their respective sites. This collaboration ensures that valuable lessons and breakthroughs are shared, leading to better outcomes for the entire nuclear industry.

    What are the advantages of using robots at Sellafield?

    The use of robots at Sellafield offers several advantages. Firstly, it improves safety by keeping human workers out of harm’s way. Secondly, it delivers significant cost savings by reducing the need for extensive human labor. Lastly, it enhances operational efficiency by enabling remote access to challenging and dangerous areas.