Sellafield’s remote operated vehicles (ROV) department has shared new technological innovations across the industry, including robots to operate in hazardous conditions.
The Engineering Centre of Excellence in Cleator Moor, West Cumbria, became the first in the world to use light detection and ranging (LiDAR) laser scanning device on a ROV after equipping Boston Dynamics’ dynamic sensing platform ‘Spot the Dog’ with the device.
LiDAR equipped ROVs can enter high radiation environments producing 3D image data removing the need for humans to enter.
Sellafield Ltd ROV equipment engineer, Calvin Smye, said: “Everything we are using is off the shelf but by adding different payloads, like a LiDAR sensor and a radiation monitor, we are adapting them to deliver for our business.”
“Since the introduction of this technology we’ve really been at the forefront of testing it and adjusting it to our needs and are now leaders in the nuclear industry for applying it.”
Live industry demonstrations using Spot the Dog have been conducted at one of the site’s oldest buildings, Calder Hall. Built in the 1950s, Calder Hall contains many asbestos areas inaccessible for humans and difficult to decommission.
Many Nuclear Decommissioning Authority sites in the UK, including at Dounreay in Scotland, have begun to use ROVs for inspections of buildings and equipment to the sorting and segregation of wastes.
Smaller ROVs including an IPEK crawler robot have been used to inspect the structural integrity of pipework from up to 250 meters away. Sellafield Ltd is exploring the use of ROVs to detect potentially dangerous gases in work areas before humans are sent in.
Sellafield is exploring further ROV application across a range of potential hazardous sites. Preliminary trials have been conducted using a radiation dosimeter designed by the Radiometrics Systems Group.
Rav Chunilal, head of robotics and artificial intelligence, Sellafield Ltd said: “The use of ROVs at Sellafield marks a significant milestone in our commitment to safety and efficiency. These cutting-edge robots allow us to access dangerous and challenging areas remotely, removing humans from harm’s way and saving time and costs for maintenance and inspections.”
The latest developments in robotics and automation will be on show at the Robotics and Automation Exhibition, which will be held on 19-20 March 2024 at the NEC Birmingham. Register now to avoid missing out on the UK’s biggest exhibition dedicated to robotics and automated technologies.