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Japan to help UK develop nuclear decommissioning robots

21 January 2021

A UK-Japan alliance will develop robotics and automation techniques for both the decommissioning nuclear facilities and nuclear fusion research.

It will support delivery of faster and safer decommissioning at Sellafield and the Fukushima Dai-ichi reactors in Japan, using long-reach robotic arms.

The £12m project, called LongOps, is a four-year research collaboration, funded equally by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the UK’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and Japan’s Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO).

The project will be led by the UKAEA’s Remote Applications in Challenging Environments (“RACE”) facility.

The LongOps programme will feature the deployment of digital twin technology.

Adrian Simper, group strategy and technology director at the NDA, said: “Robotics offers us new ways to tackle our complex work safely, securely and cost-effectively. This unique international collaboration allows us to pool expertise and experience from Japan, working together and investing in cutting edge ways to find solutions to our shared problems and benefit our clean-up mission.”

Dr Rob Buckingham, director of UKAEA’s RACE, said: “LongOps will build long-term partnerships, such as that between UK’s Sellafield and Japan’s TEPCO to find faster and safer methods for fusion development and to solve complex decommissioning problems. The project will build innovation pipelines with industry for new robotics and AI tools.”

Image: 207981662 © Steve Allen | Dreamstime.com