REEG Deployments

REEG Deployments

March 2020: VEGA at Dounreay

The Vega robot was successfully trialled in an active deployment at the Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd (DSRL) nuclear plant. Working in close collaboration with DSRL, an area on site was identified that would benefit from robotic inspection to help inform decommissioning plans. Initial on site testing and demonstration of the Vega platform was been carried out in March 2020. The robot was deployed into an active waste store and created a geometric map with radiometric information, the gamma dose rate, overlaid onto it.

Find out more information on our VEGA deployment here.

January 2020: TORONE at JSI TRIGA II Reactor, Slovenia

The TORONE robot equipped with two 2D lidars for SLAM and obstacle avoidance, located at the front and rear.  A webcam and spherical 360° camera providing visual information for the operator.  A rotating 2D lidar captures 3D reconstructions of the environment.

The robot was in a radiation survey configuration, capable of 2D gamma radiation mapping and 3D source identification with CeBr3 scintillator detectors (Scionix) twinned with a Mixed Field Analyser (Hybrid Instruments), modified to communicate with the robot.  This bespoke radiation monitoring system was designed and built with collaborators at Lancaster University.

The JSI TRIGA Mark II research reactor was used as an example of an unknown environment, a typical scenario during decommissioning of nuclear facilities.  The reactor was operated at 1kW power, with unknown radioactive materials located around the reactor hall to test if the robot can correctly highlight areas of increased gamma dose.

The robot was manually controlled to explore the reactor hall whilst the radiation monitoring instuments recorded local dose rate.  The robot operator is able to visualise the environment and radiation information remotely via WiFi connection with the Robot Operating System (ROS).

Cherenkov glow from the operational reactor

JSI TRIGA Mark II reactor, with workers on the upper platform over looking the core

Andy West preparing the robot for deployment

May 2019: CARMA at the Legacy Alpha Laboratory, Sellafield

Following the success of the earlier CARMA prototype, REEG researchers developed a more robust and nuclearized platform based on the COTS Clearpath RoboticsTM Jackal. The platform underwent a series of inactive demonstrations for key stakeholders at our REEL facility in west Cumbria before completing an active demonstration at an alpha laboratory at the Sellafield site in May 2019. CARMA completed an autonomous survey of the area and successfully detected areas of known, fixed contamination. The platform demonstrated autonomous obstacle avoidance, demonstrating a more advanced level of autonomy than previously demonstrated in earlier CARMA deployments.

This is a Sellafield Ltd sponsored project.

November 2018: MallARD at Spent Fuel Pond, Finland

Following the second round of the 2017 IAEA Robotics Challenge, some improvements were made to MallARD’s software and during the summer of 2018, the IAEA inspectors visited our REEL facility in west Cumbria and were trained how to use and troubleshoot the platform, before taking it to Vienna for a series of inactive field tests. Finally, in November 2018, the MallARD was deployed in a spent nuclear fuel pool at a nuclear power plant in Finland. MallARD was deployed in two storage pools and functioned as specified and without fault in both environments. Of the three robots, MallARD had the best vertical and course stability, power and propulsion as well as trajectory control. It came second overall in the competition.  

March 2018: MIRRAX at FGRP, Sellafield

The MIRRAX robot was deployed in an active cell at the First Generation Reprocessing Plant, FGRP on the Sellafield site in March 2018. The robot was fitted with two LiDAR sensors, front-mounted HD camera for inspection, rear-mounted tether point, as well as an additional camera and lighting fitted specifically for the deployment. The robot was tethered, teleoperated and operator did not have line-of-sight for the duration of the deployment. 

This is a Sellafield Ltd sponsored project.

In February 2018, researchers visited the JSI TRIGA II reactor in Slovenia with the AVEXIS™ ROV. Whilst here the AVEXIS™ was operated inside of the reactor, manoeuvring through the water column and around fixtures giving operators visual feedback on features at the bottom of the reactor. Radiation hardness tests were performed to determine the limit of the CeBr3 detector operation within a radiation environment. It was found that the detector remained operation up to 15 Gy/hr.

Key paper from this deployment: The Integration of a CeBr3 Detector with a Submersible ROV for Reactor Assessment at Fukushima Daiichi

February 2018: AVEXIS™ at JSI TRIGA II Reactor, Slovenia

This prototype of CARMA was the first stage in developing an autonomous monitoring system for the nuclear industry. The prototype was built using COTS components combined with nuclear industry standard radiometric sensors to deliver a proof-of-concept design. In the December 2017, CARMA was deployed in an active area on the Sellafield site, where it detected and located a fixed alpha source embedded into the floor. This deployment was the first time that an autonomous robot has been deployed at Sellafield, the largest nuclear site in Europe.

This is a Sellafield Ltd sponsored project.

Key paper from this deployment: Using Autonomous Radiation-Monitoring Assistance to Reduce Risk and Cost

December 2017: CARMA 1, Sellafield

November 2017: MallARD, IAEA Challenge, Brisbane, Australia

After being selected from a technical report and video entry showcasing its technical capabilities, the MallARD platform competed in the second round of the IAEA’s Robotics Challenge in Brisbane, Australia in November 2017. The Autonomous Surface Vehicle (ASV) performed well in its category and was selected with two other entries to progress to round 3.   

October 2017: AVEXIS™ at Naraha, Japan

In October 2017 Matthew Nancekievill, Barry Lennox and Simon Watson visited the Naraha test facility in Fukushima prefecture, Japan. The AVEXIS was demonstrated to collaborators and interested external industrial partners. AVEXIS™ has been developed to be used in hazardous environments that are unsafe for human operators. AVEXIS™ has been designed to help explore and characterise theses extreme underwater environments, its localization system has been designed and developed which enables the collection of sonar data to create 3D images of submerged simulated fuel debris. Using a camera with a bird’s-eye view of the simulated primary containment vessel, the 3D position and attitude of the robot was obtained using coloured LED markers (active markers) on the robot, landmarks on the test-rig (passive markers), and a depth sensor on the robot. The successful reconstruction of a 3D image was created through use of a robot operating system (ROS) node in real time.

This work was achieved in collaboration with Lancaster University, the Japan Atomic Energy Authority (JAEA) and the National Maritime Research Institute (NMRI), Japan.

See here for more information:

The AVEXIS™, originally designed and developed by REEG at The University of Manchester, was commercialised by Forth Engineering, and was deployed into Sellafield’s Magox Swarf Storage Silo, MSSS in August 2017.

August 2017: AVEXIS™ at MSSS, Sellafield