Seminars

Our seminar series is free and available for anyone to attend. Unless otherwise stated, seminars take place on Wednesday afternoons at 2pm in the Kilburn Building during teaching season.

If you wish to propose a seminar speaker please contact Antoniu Pop.

 

Next seminar

Robotic Systems for Use in the Nuclear Industry

  • Speaker:   Prof.  Barry Lennox  (University of Manchester School of EEE)
  • Host:   Steve Furber
  • 9th January 2019 at 14:00 in Kilburn L.T 1.4
Abstract
With multi-billion pound programmes in place to construct new power plants, develop fusion reactors and decommission the country?s legacy facilities, the UK has extremely ambitious plans for the nuclear industry. Unfortunately, the nuclear industry remains heavily reliant on human intervention, requiring workers to enter hazardous environments that may be at extreme temperatures and contain toxic and radioactive materials. Working in such environments results in elevated risks to the workforce and significant reductions in operational efficiencies. It has been estimated that robotics and autonomous systems offer the potential to remove the need for workers to enter harmful radioactive environments and reduce operational costs by as much as 20%, which given that the cost of decommissioning the UK?s legacy facilities alone has been estimated to be #164bn over the next 120 years, is significant. Unfortunately the robotics technology that is required to address most of the challenges faced by the nuclear industry does not yet exist.

To support the development of robots for nuclear applications, the University of Manchester has secured almost #20M of funding from UKRI and EPSRC over the last 2-years. This includes #12.2M to establish the Robotics for Artificial Intelligence for Nuclear (RAIN) research hub (http://rainhub.org.uk), which involves researchers in EEE, CS, MACE and Physics as well as from the universities of Oxford, Sheffield, Liverpool, Nottingham, Lancaster, Bristol and the UKAEA?s RACE centre. This seminar will describe some of the robotics and artificial intelligence challenges faced by the nuclear industry and will also provide an overview of the robotic systems that have been developed at the University of Manchester to address them. The majority of the robotic systems developed to date have been relatively low-cost, small-sized mobile robots that have been designed for single use, as once they have been deployed into a radioactive facility they cannot normally be returned because of the potential of radioactive contamination. This, and the additional problem that communication through thick concrete shielding walls can be difficult, means that low-cost, on-board microprocessors are vital. More recently the research has expanded into the control of robotic manipulators with the aim of designing a hands-free glove-box for manipulating radioactive materials, which now requires object recognition tools and situational awareness and decision making technologies.
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