UKAEA calls upon international robotics community to help develop fusion energy

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The United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) is calling upon the international robotics community to help make fusion energy part of the world’s future energy supply in a bid to combat climate change and build towards a net zero society.

Leading technologists from UKAEA’s fusion robotics division, RACE (Remote Applications in Challenging Environments), are inviting academics, researchers and industry to discuss fusion energy’s challenges in mechanical engineering, electronics and cybernetics at the 2023 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) at the ExCeL in London.

UKAEA’s RACE will showcase its Haptic Training Simulator (HTS) at Stand F24 at ICRA, 29 May – 2 June 2023 and present it to the robotics community for the first time.

Created using technology originally developed to train dentists, the HTS is an outcome from a collaboration with Generic Robotics as part of UKAEA’s LongOps programme – a £12m UK and Japanese project to develop robotic capability that will support delivery of faster and safer decommissioning in Fukushima Daiichi in Japan and Sellafield, funded by UKRI, TEPCO and the NDA.

The HTS is designed to provide remote handling operators working in fusion energy and nuclear fission decommissioning with a unique sense of touch, enabling them to experience tactile sensations whilst rehearsing complex manoeuvres.

Professor Rob Buckingham, UKAEA’s director of RACE, said: “UKAEA is inviting the ICRA community to put our minds together – we are open to collaborations with industry, academia and researchers – to help deliver fusion economically and sustainably.

“Robotics is key for the entire lifecycle of future fusion power stations, from design and maintenance through to decommissioning. The Haptic Training Simulator is a great example of how successful collaborations and tech transfer between different sectors can support shared goals to provide a better solution for all.”

Based on the same process that powers the Sun and stars, fusion energy could be transformative for energy security and important in the global fight against climate change.

Since its opening at Culham, Oxford, in 2016, UKAEA’s RACE facility has conducted research and development in the use of robotics to protect people in challenging environments.

To find out more about UKAEA’s RACE Haptic Training Simulator, watch this video or visit Stand F24, ICRA.

UKAEA’s ‘Robotics in fusion energy workshop’ will take place at ICRA from 13.45 – 15.00, Wednesday 31 May 2023, Room 1, Capital Suite, ICC Level 3, ExCeL London.

To join this open and collaborative session, just drop-in! Register to attend ICRA here.