Norway's two nuclear reactors have now ceased operations and will be decommissioned over the coming years. Decommissioning of nuclear facilities is significantly more complex than traditional demolition due to the demanding safety requirements related to the handling of hazardous materials. Today's decommissioning operations rely largely on manual labour, which is both time consuming (i.e. costly) and dangerous for personnel. Robotic technologies are foreseen to greatly improve efficiency and safety of nuclear decommissioning operations by replacing or assisting human workers for tasks that are tedious or hazardous. However, the application of robotic technologies today is limited mostly to situations in which manual labour is not possible – e.g. handling of highly radioactive components or remote sensing within nuclear accident sites. These robots are highly specialised for their specific roles.
The RoboDecom project will focus on the development and demonstration of new cost-effective and more general purpose modular robotic solutions for nuclear decommissioning, by developing robotic and digital prototypes based on the integration of existing components and solutions, adopted for the special requirements of nuclear decommissioning, and tested within real nuclear decommissioning environments. Specifically, we will look at technologies such as SLAM for robot self-localisation, mobile scanning for creating 3D models, digital twins and augmented reality for data visualisation and project planning, robotic manipulators for telepresence, radiological sensors for characterisation of the environment, and automated data analyses workflows. By reducing personnel requirements in hazardous areas, these new technologies will lead to significant improvements to the efficiency and safety of nuclear decommissioning operations.