Emergency-use robot trialled at Sellafield

25 April 2023

A remotely-operated rescue robot capable of withstanding hazardous environments has been evaluated at the UK's Sellafield nuclear site. Designed and manufactured by British engineering firm Forth, the Rescue Robot will make emergency jobs across UK nuclear plants "significantly safer and more cost effective".

The Rescue Robot (Image: Forth)

The Rescue Robot has been built on a 1.6-tonne JCB compactor excavator platform and fitted with high-tech robotics systems and wireless technology, in addition to specialist, robust cameras and lights which will not be destroyed in hazardous conditions.

Functions of the robot include: a specialist 700-bar rescue tool fitted to cut through any hazards in its way; a grapple hook to move any obstruction; an ability to tow a trailer with a fitted hopper to disperse a bund of sand to contain spillages; an affixative spraying system to contain a radioactive spillage.

The robot is also tetherless and can be controlled from a safe space in the control centre up to 150 metres away.

The robot has been successfully trialled at the Sellafield site and Cumbria-based Forth is now looking to roll it out at other plants across the UK.

"The Rescue Robot is a pioneering development which has already been successfully tested in hazardous environments, and it has been manufactured to offer a safe, remotely-operated alternative to sending humans into disaster zones," said Forth Managing Director Mark Telford. "By working with Sellafield Ltd, we were able to prove the machine is able to withstand some particularly dangerous conditions, and its various adaptations and capabilities mean that this will be a real asset to the UK's nuclear industry.

"There are endless amounts of modifications and end effectors which can be included on the robot, and we are excited to be able to provide a product which will make working in nuclear plants across the country much safer, while also saving industry a substantial amount of money."

A Rescue Robot is now permanently situated at Sellafield and is on standby to safely carry out any emergency work in the most hazardous zones of the site.

"The introduction of the Rescue Robot provides huge benefits in helping to keep humans out of harm's way if we ever need to respond to an emergency situation," said Sellafield Ltd Security and Resilience Operations Manager Gus Harding. "The Sellafield site is the perfect testing ground for this sort of innovative technology and having a machine like this so readily available gives everybody peace of mind."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News