Rescue robot set for Sellafield nuclear site

A remotely-operated rescue robot developed for the Sellafield nuclear site can be adapted for disaster recovery in a range of hazardous industrial environments.

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Forth’s remotely-operated rescue robot developed to help with disaster recovery in hazardous industrial environments (Image: Forth)

This is the claim of Cumbrian robotics specialist Forth, which has built its untethered robot on a 1.6 tonne JCB compact excavator platform – complete with wireless technology, specialist cameras and lights – that has been adapted to withstand conditions in hazardous environments.

According to Forth, the robot can tow a trailer with a fitted hopper for the dispersal of spillages with sand, and an affixative spraying system can be used in the containment of a nuclear spillage.

A2I2 underwater survey robot thrives in the deep end

It also has the use of a large grapple hook to move obstructions and a specialist 700bar rescue tool – similar to that used by the UK Fire and Rescue Service – to cut through any hazards in its way.

A mobile command and control centre, fitted with live video streaming capability, can be towed to within a 150m radius of the rescue zone.

In a statement, Mark Telford, managing director of Forth, said: “It is important for operators like Sellafield to plan for different scenarios. We have developed this 1.6-tonne robot because it was what was required for this particular task, but we could develop a product of any size – it could be 10-tonnes, for example, if that was what was needed – and fitted with any type of tools for a range of tasks.”

In March, 2021, Forth announced that Autonomous Aquatic Inspection and Intervention (A2I2), an autonomous underwater survey robot developed for potential use in assisting nuclear decommissioning, had undergone successful drop trial’s at the company’s Deep Recovery Facility.

The A2I2 collaborative R&D project, led by Rovco and supported by Innovate UK under the Industrial Strategy Research Fund, involves Forth, Rovco, D-RisQ, the National Oceanography Centre (NOC), Thales UK and Manchester University.

The project’s goal is to develop underwater autonomous vehicles which can improve safety and reduce the challenges of operating in hazardous environments, such as in ponds at a nuclear site.