DOE-EM–Sandia team survey Sellafield robotic systems

August 16, 2023, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
The DOE-EM–Sandia team and Sellafield representatives pose with Spot Robot at the Sellafield Engineering and Maintenance Centre of Excellence. (Photo: DOE)

Robotics experts from Sandia National Laboratories and representatives from the Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management’s Technology Development Office recently visited the Sellafield nuclear site in England to discuss how robotics, artificial intelligence, and other emerging tools can be developed and used in nuclear cleanup operations.

At Sellafield, the American team observed multiple robotic deployments and evaluations and discussed common successes and challenges associated with the technology maturation process. Unique hazards in DOE-EM’s cleanup work increasingly demand such emerging technologies, including robotic systems that allow workers to perform work remotely.

“It was great to see how the Sellafield team has successfully implemented some of these technologies, and we look forward to future discussions and collaborations where we can leverage and mutually benefit our cleanup missions,” said Jean Pabón, Technology Development Office senior program manager.

Earlier collaboration: This latest collaboration comes on the heels of a trilateral workshop that focused on stakeholder engagement. In July, a team of leaders from DOE-EM headquarters and cleanup sites traveled to London to participate in the workshop with the U.K.’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and Canadian government representatives and impacted stakeholders.

Likewise, late last year, the DOE-EM Technology Development Office and Sandia employees were among a team that evaluated technology to improve the safety and well-being of DOE-EM’s workforce at the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition in Pensacola.

During this most recent visit to Sellafield, the DOE-EM–Sandia team talked with developers and end users of robotic systems to better understand how the Sellafield teams worked together to mature and transition the systems to routine operations. The DOE-EM contingent also discussed their robotic development efforts and identified areas for future collaboration.

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