The use of robotics in the nuclear industry is well established and has brought significant benefits, although their deployment for specific applications has not always been trivial. Increasing the level of autonomous behaviour for such robotics is widely recognised to have the potential to provide a step-change in these benefits. However, there are many perceived difficulties; some, but not all, have substance.
The RAIN project has developed robots that either operate or have the ability, in future iterations, to operate autonomously. Some have been deployed on nuclear sites (e.g., Vega at Dounreay), others have been deployed on a representative, non-nuclear sites (e.g. A2I2 at Forth Engineering). In the case of the former, the safety case is relatively simple; the only significant hazard being that of the contamination of the robot itself. In the case of the latter, the focus of the existing safety analysis is on a single component of the robot and only the summary of this was drafted.
This workshop will assess the possibilities for designing and developing autonomous robots for which safety cases can be created allowing their deployment on nuclear sites. It will look at this question both in terms of the current state of the art, and foreseeable future developments.
Matt Luckcuck will give an overview of ‘Principles for the Development and Assurance of Autonomous Systems for Safe Use in Hazardous Environments’, a RAIN White paper that focuses on the Verification and Validation aspects of Human Controlled and Autonomous Robotic Systems. Following this Chris Anderson will present a safety case for a fictitious autonomous robot to be deployed on a nuclear site. This shows how such a robot for a defined deployment could be developed now. It also points to a safety case that is feasibly possible in the future, when existing low TRL development methods and toolsets have matured into ones that could be considered for a nuclear robotic deployment.
The two talks will be followed by a discussion on routes forward for the development of robots, assurance technologies and safety cases that would enable the deployment of autonomous robots in nuclear environments.
To sign up please register on Eventbrite here.