Robot dog to sniff out danger at Sellafield nuclear site

Robot dog to sniff out danger at Sellafield nuclear site: Robots resembling canines may soon be sniffing out hazards as well as assisting clean up the Sellafield nuclear site, believed to the most complex site of its type in Europe.

Sellafield Ltd conducted a 3 day trial of Spot, the mobile robot dog built by Boston Dynamics, at the Calder Hall nuclear power station that is now being shut down.

The UK Atomic Energy Authority’s (UKAEA) robotics team RACE was at Sellafield to offer information and support on how similar robots could assist with the cleaning up of nuclear sites as the construction delivers challenging landscape in a hazard managed environment, contributing ideal circumstances to test Spot’s agility, scanning & radiation detection proficiencies.

Spot, if successful, may be used at locations throughout the Sellafield site to execute routing assignments like inspections, mapping, data capture & characterisation.

Rav Chunilal, Head of robotics and artificial intelligence for Sellafield Ltd stated: “Our mission is to create a clean & safe environment for future generations. Robots like Spot are an integral part of our future. They offer us a way of getting jobs done in hazardous environments while keeping people out of harm’s way.

“Robots are excellent at performing repetitive & time consuming tasks. This allows us to free up our people to undertake more fulfilling work contributing to our purpose – creating a clean & safe environment for future generations.

“Spot’s active demonstration has given us great insight into its capabilities. We’ll now study the findings before we take a decision on whether to deploy this technology at Sellafield.”

RACE has 2 Spot devices & has been working on operations for them within industrial areas where it is problematic or unsafe to assign humans.

One of the dog robots performed a radiation mapping project at Chernobyl for the University of Bristol in 2020.

Guy Burroughes, Senior Control System Software Engineer at RACE, UKAEA said: “We’ve been using Spot for over a year in our work to develop robotics for challenging environments like nuclear facilities. We were delighted to bring this experience to support the trials at Sellafield & hope it can lead to safer, more efficient decommissioning.”

Robot dog to sniff out danger at Sellafield nuclear site

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