Robotics experts from across the UK nuclear industry came together at Culham last month to plan the next steps in the £12 million RAIN (Robotics and Artificial Intelligence in Nuclear) Hub initiative.
Launched in 2017, RAIN Hub is a programme to make deployment of nuclear robotics the norm. RAIN is comprised of seven universities plus UKAEA’s RACE centre; this community of institutions aims to solve real end-user nuclear challenges, undertake world-leading research, foster international collaboration and grow membership of the Hub. Phase 1 of the Hub is fully funded by EPSRC (part of UK Research and Innovation) from October 2017 until March 2021.
RACE offers the Hub not only the co-directorship of Dr Rob Buckingham, a team of eight engineers and a wealth of experience and relationships in the fusion field, but also myriad robotic systems which will be developed and shared across the RAIN community.
To make it easy for industry to engage with RAIN, the Hub is focusing on three main user challenges; Remote Handling, Remote Inspection and Safety Case. ‘User challenge’ events are an opportunity to bring the RAIN researchers and engineers together with industry representatives focusing on one of those three challenge areas. The first Remote Handling and Inspection events were held on 5th and 8th June respectively.
The Remote Inspection User Challenge event was hosted at Culham and saw over fifty representatives from RAIN and industry come together to discuss barriers to remote inspection and explore potential solutions and opportunities, primarily for the nuclear sector.
UKAEA’s John Jukes, RAIN Programme Manager, said:
“The session was very helpful in terms of helping the RAIN community gain a better understanding of the Hub, the user challenges and the potential routes to explore during the next few months and years.
“The relationships that have been built upon and initiated through the workshops will be the key that secures the long-term success of RAIN. In fact, with the presence of nuclear, rail and oceanographic representatives at the session the cross-pollination of ideas was powerful. Such connections will help the Hub to make positive differences more quickly.”
The findings from the event will be used to inform the direction of RAIN, to ensure that nuclear robotics deployments are relevant and numerous.
More information at: http://www.rainhub.org.uk/