UK telexistence contest winners announced

30 September 2022

Three organisations have won a total of GBP1.3 million (USD1.4 million) in funding to develop four cutting-edge telexistence innovations for defence, security and nuclear decommissioning applications.

A man remotely controlling a robotic hand (Image: DASA)

TNO of the Netherlands, Sheffield University and Cyberselves Universal Ltd will develop four projects over the next 10 months that will then be evaluated and demonstrated next year.

Telexistence is described as a system combining telepresence - which allows the operator to see and hear as though in the remote location - with robotics/wearable tech to enable the operator to interact in the remote environment and also haptic sensors enabling them to touch and feel as though in the remote environment.

In the second phase of a competition organised by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA), the companies were tasked with evaluating their innovations against 'use cases' in: specialist nuclear decommissioning tasks; explosive ordnance disposal; and defence and security medical applications.

NDA group companies were involved in developing the special nuclear decommissioning tasks 'use case' drawing on the experience and previous work in glove box decommissioning, remote handling and waste repackaging.

Among the winning projects, TNO's HaBiTS, (Haptic Bimanual Telexistence System), comprised of robotic arms and effectors, aims to provide NDA operators with a high sense of telexistence and with the critical visual, auditory, and haptic cues required for effective, efficient, and safe task execution.

One of Cyberselves Universal Ltd's two projects is TEL-ND, aimed at designing a cutting-edge telexistence solution that removes NDA operators from risk. The innovation enables operators to carry out their tasks from a location remotely, utilising a robot, without adversely impacting performance.

"We're excited to be working with DASA and Dstl on this competition," said NDA Innovation Delivery Manager Andrew Gray. "Advancing technologies in the area of telexistence will help us deliver our decommissioning mission more safely, securely and efficiently in enabling us to move humans away from harm.

"It's our aim to reduce decommissioning activities carried out by humans in hazardous environments by 50% by 2030. We're really encouraged to see such fantastic solutions being put forward by the supply chain."

Phase 2 of the Telexistence competition follows on from Phase 1, which aimed to understand the technical possibilities and potential applications of a telexistence capability for the defence and security community. In that phase, GBP570,000 worth of contracts were awarded to nine organisations delivering 11 projects.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News