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Rescue Robot will tackle nuclear power plant emergencies so humans don’t have to

Professional Engineering

The Rescue Robot is designed to tackle emergency situations at nuclear sites (Credit: Forth)
The Rescue Robot is designed to tackle emergency situations at nuclear sites (Credit: Forth)

A remotely operated robot capable of withstanding hazardous nuclear environments has been successfully trialled at the Sellafield nuclear site in Cumbria.

Designed to keep human workers out of harm’s way during emergencies at nuclear power stations, the Rescue Robot was developed and manufactured by Cumbrian engineering firm Forth.

Built on a 1.6 tonne JCB compactor excavator platform, the machine will be sent into disaster zones and operated from a control centre a safe distance away. It is fitted with robust robotics systems, wireless technology, cameras and lights that can withstand hazardous conditions.

“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 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.”

The robot is tetherless and can be controlled from up to 150m away. Tools include a specialist 700bar rescue tool to cut through any hazards and a grapple hook to move obstructions. It can also tow a trailer to disperse sand.

“The Rescue Robot has been designed so it can easily be adapted to fit whatever requirements are needed,” said Telford. “Sellafield Ltd required the development of a 1.6 tonne robot, but we are able to adapt the product to any size and also fit it with any type of tools or end effectors to fit the nature of the project.”

One of the devices is now permanently situated at Sellafield, on standby to carry out emergency work in the most hazardous parts 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 Gus Harding, Sellafield security manager.

“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.”

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Content published by Professional Engineering does not necessarily represent the views of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.


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