Demonstration & Testing

It is a priority of the RAIN Hub to regularly demonstrate our technology to relevant stakeholders.

A key indicator of our success is the number of demonstrations and deployments we complete.

Many of our institutions have facilities at which they regularly demonstrate their technology, including:

  • The University of Manchester’s Robotics for Extreme Environments Laboratory (REEL), in Cumbria
  • The University of Bristol’s Fenswood Farm facility, close to Bristol
  • RACE, Oxfordshire, has extensive demonstration facilities including drum storage facilities and NIST lanes. The terrain course, consisting of three ‘lanes’, was first developed by NIST, the U.S’s National Institute of Standards and Technology. The lanes provide a standard benchmark for all small/medium wheeled, tracked and legged robots
  • The University of Nottingham’s Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre in Manufacturing Technology

In addition to demonstrations of individual pieces of technology, we host regular demonstration days in which we collated a range of the technology that we are developing and invite industry to see this and give feedback.

Key deployments include:

  • VEGA platform on site at Dounreay 
  • CARMA platform on site at Sellafield
  • UAV surveys of Chernobyl and Fukushima

We are always looking for new opportunities to deploy our robots. Please do get in touch if you have an environment suitable for testing.

You can read more about recent demonstrations and deployments on our news page, or click on the links below.

Inspection of active waste sites at Dounreay

The RAIN Hub has successfully trialled a robot in an active deployment at the Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd (DSRL) nuclear reactor research facility, now in the process of decommissioning. 

Remote Inspection Working Group trials at UKAEA facility

As part of the RAIN project, the Remote Inspection Working Group (RIWG) has been developing a range of technologies to allow autonomous ground vehicles to characterise and monitor facilities that process and store waste from the nuclear industry. 

Testing ANYmal at mobility benchmarking lanes

The RAIN team from Oxford Robotics Institute visited RACE to test out their ANYmal at the mobility benchmarking lanes. This is part of their work to test the reliability of different mobile robots. 

Remote Inspection Working Group testing at Bristol Fenswood facility

The Remote Inspection Working group is working on both characterisation and long term monitoring and change detection of spaces in the nuclear industry. In August, they tested some new kit at the University of Bristol’s Fenswood Farm facility.

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.

Trials in Japan

In October 2018, a team from the University of Bristol ventured to Japan. This was led by RAIN researchers Professor Tom Scott and Dr Yannick Verbelen, with Dr Chris Hutson and PhD student Dean Connor.

Inspecting the ‘Unknown Room’

We recently saw the first culmination of a joint RAIN demonstrator project with the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) and the Universities of Manchester and Bristol. 

Raman sensors on a submersible platform

RAIN researchers, from the Universities of Bristol and Manchester, have been working together to develop a new submersible remote inspection platform.

Demonstration pipeline:

  • 1

    We will demonstrate aspects of our technology at Hub Demonstration days. Inviting stakeholders to these events will be a great opportunity for feedback and help us to understand the challenges faced by the nuclear industry. These interactions help us to find specific problems that we can work to address, and look for cross-industry uses for our technologies.
  • 2

    Full scale ‘white’, non-radioactive, technology demonstrators prove capability and de-risk deployments prior to being used on a real nuclear site.
  • 3

    Selected ‘red’, or active demonstrators will be delivered using sealed radioactive sources to provide point sources for mapping and/or identification. This will be facilitated by Bristol’s Fenswood, Manchester’s Cumbrian sites, and the RACE testing facilities. We will also work on industry sites for projects that are collaborations with partners to address specific challenges.
  • 4

    After success at ‘white’ and ‘red’ demonstrations, active deployments on nuclear sites will test our technology live. The confidence and understanding gained in the first stages will enable these live demonstrations to go ahead and increase the likelihood of successful technology transfer. We have in the past used active and non-active facilities at JET, Sellafield and EDFE sites.
  • 5

    Once our technology is proven to be successful in the UK, we want to apply it to international legacy facilities. The H-Canyon Air Exhaust tunnels at Savannah State, and accident areas, including Fukushima Daiichi and Chernobyl, are sites of specific interest. RAIN researchers have worked successfully in these areas previously. Combining RAIN expertise will lead to further success on these sites.

Technology Development Stages

The RAIN Hub is different to traditional research projects that work at Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) 1-3. Researchers are developing technology all the way through from TRL 3 up to 7/8, and seeking deployments to enable that. The CARMA platform is an example of how we can successfully work with industry. These are the stages that we have gone through from initial concept to trials in active environments.