UK Developing Robots to Assist with Decommissioning

Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd (DSRL) and the Robotics and Artificial Intelligence in Nuclear (RAIN) Hub are collaborating to develop a robot capable of accessing areas that are inaccessible or unsafe for humans to work in.  

Lyra is an inexpensive robot equipped with five radiation detectors, a laser positioning scanner, 2 cameras, flashlights and a manipulator. Lyra has caterpillars and a relatively high ground clearance to remove debris lying in the duct. The radiation measuring kit can measure beta, gamma, X-ray and neutron radiation, and the manipulator is used to take smears of radioactive contamination from the wall or floor of the air duct for further radiological analysis in laboratories. Cameras attached to the front of the Lyra robot and to the end of the manipulator allow inspecting any area in detail. Lyra is controlled by a joystick and a hand-manipulator, the movement of which is copied by the hand of the robot. 

Radiation measurement kit in combination with LIDAR radar, real-time video recording from the camera allows you to create a three-dimensional video with a time stamp, in which the measured radiation is superimposed on the video so that any object of interest or measurements of high-level radiation could be accurately indicated at any selected location in the duct. 

In late March, the robot Lyra successfully inspected the underground radioactive ventilation duct in Dunrei’s backup laboratories and walked 140 meters of air duct, providing operators with detailed information on radiological characteristics that can now be used to plan safe and efficient decommissioning.  

This study has demonstrated that mobile robots can be used to accelerate the decommissioning of old nuclear facilities in the UK, while reducing risk to people and costs, as well as reducing the amount of additional low-level waste generated during decommissioning. 

According to the University of Manchester