Author: Helen Bayram

RAIN Demonstration day

In the RAIN Hub we want to work actively with industry and end users. We are working in a different way to standard academic research projects, aiming to really understand the challenges faced by the nuclear industry. Our three working groups were formed to aid this process: Remote Handling, Remote Inspection and Safety Case. In March this year, we invited our network of industry contacts to a demonstration day in Manchester. We had over 20 pieces of technology on display, including various robotic platforms, sensor technology, and using virtual reality for control.

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The Royal Academy of Engineering has announced their highly prestigious Chairs in Emerging Technologies. This funding champions disruptive innovations, providing long term support for research that has a potentially huge economic and social benefit. Two of the 9 awards have gone to RAIN researchers. Professors Barry Lennox and Michael Fisher were both awarded funding to support their research programmes. The funding lasts for ten years and will enable them to progress their research through to deployment and commercialisation stages.

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Safety Case Workshop 2

Safety is a primary focus in the nuclear industry and is an integral feature of design, development, operations and decommissioning. In the UK, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) is the independent body which ensures that nuclear sites are suitably regulated and held accountable on behalf of the public. To this end, they require that nuclear site operators provide safety cases for their systems. A Safety Case is a structured argument that is used to provide evidence that a nuclear task system is safe. It considers aspects such as risks, failure modes, training needs, and reliability data. It is a concise and clear document, owned by the nuclear operator. Naturally, every nuclear site operator has a relationship with the ONR and, until recently, that relationship has been perceived as rather distant. Within RAIN we recognise the advantages of collaboration. We have arranged a series of workshops bringing together the ONR, nuclear operators, and academics. The first Safety Case Workshop was held in September last year. Details and presentations can be found online.

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Mobile Robot Scans UKAEA Waste Store

The RAIN Hub is built on an ethos of forging new connections. These new connections link people, technologies and places to solve real-life challenges. One particular challenge area for RAIN is that of Remote Inspection; the ability to remotely deploy sensors to specific target areas in order to retrieve useful, accurate and timely data.

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Hub Directors Meeting

The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) Hubs are four organisations tasked with undertaking world-leading research, deploying technologies with end-users and fostering collaboration and community within their fields of extreme environments. Those environments are space (FAIR-SPACE), off-shore (ORCA) and nuclear (NCNR and RAIN). With four brand new entities there with naturally be commonalities in approach coupled with sector-specific strategies. With a three-and-a-half-year programme for each Hub (Oct 2017 to Mar 2021), the governance associated with such an undertaking is an important part of the recipe for success.

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The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) has £93m allocated to the Robotics and Artificial Intelligence (RAI) sector. Naturally, with such an investment it makes perfect sense to maximise the value from such a budget. Part of the value is derived from the results expected from each separate project, of which there are many in this fund. But a wider part of the value to be harvested from such a fund is the cross-pollination of ideas and approaches that can occur when those involved in the separate work streams come together in an event focused on a common theme.

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Kuka glovebox remote handling demonstration

The latest exciting industry-relevant remote handling demonstration from RACE includes two collaborative Kuka robot arms and Robotiq grippers. The newest iteration of the system allows for the robot arms and grippers to be moved and controlled via a pair of custom-built gloves, while a VR headset allows the user to track movements in digital space.

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New Universities Minister visits RAIN … twice!

The RAIN Hub is funded through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF), part of the Government’s modern industrial strategy. Through supporting a Hub that is tasked with taking academic research to the nuclear industry, the government is hoping to stimulate the development and application of technology in the real world.

Pic copyright Phil Tragen 07.12.18

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AI-Assisted Teleoperation of Dual Arms

RAIN hub researcher Inmo Jang has is developing a smart teleoperated robot system that will allow a human operator to safely work away from hazardous areas and improve the performance using Virtual/Augmented reality and AI assistance.

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