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.
Through the morning, there were presentations on the progress RAIN has made so far and the three working groups. These working groups are fundamental in providing structure and focus to our research goals. Within RAIN, they are a network of people from all of the university partners that combine their skills and expertise to create a practical solution to nuclear challenges. For the broader community, they provide a space for focussed discussions on real challenges and the current research potential to solve them. Getting feedback and ideas from the nuclear industry will make RAIN research far more useful than if we go it alone. The afternoon of the demonstration day was spent split into remote inspection and remote handling discussion groups. These were highly productive. The input from everyone that participated is hugely appreciated by everyone at RAIN.
Some of the technology demonstrated at the event is highlighted here.
This Jackal is used a lot by the remote inspection team. It has been developed to inspect diverse types of industrial terrain. It can perform an initial scan of an area and then use algorithms to determine the best route to take to inspect it thoroughly, covering all areas.
Furo is a pipe-crawling robot designed to navigate 6” diameter pipes, including moving around corners. This is technology that could easily be made a lot smaller for narrower pipe networks.
Virtual working environments offer a more immersive work experience for people that are doing tasks remotely. We have developed control of a robotic arm and swarms of robots within a virtual space using just your bare hand. The products of this research are unlikely to be making waves on nuclear sites soon, but offer a much safer working solution that can give intelligent suggestions and support whilst enabling the completion of complex tasks.
The ANYmal legged robot is a great solution to complex environments. It can navigate staircases, uneven terrain and gaps.
Corin is a hexapod that is able to navigate tight spaces and climb chimneys. This type of system will be able to inspect areas that other types of robotic platforms would not be able to reach.