Remote control robot for cleaning underwater nuclear waste

Autonomous robots are becoming more and more common to perform everything from rescue tasks to cleaning in inaccessible places. They are necessary, mainly when the health of the human being can be benefited, and today we will talk about one that can save many lives.

It is the A2I2, created to clean up submarine nuclear waste.

Its long name is Autonomous Aquatic Interventions and Inspection Robot, and it is the result of a collaboration in the UK led by Rovco that includes Forth Engineering, D-RisQ, the National Oceanography Center (NOC), Thales UK and the University of Manchester. It is equipped with sonar technology to detect and avoid obstacles, as discussed in the presentation video:

A few days ago the A212 showed what it is capable of, entering dangerous environments, at Forth’s 1.2 million liter tank facility in Maryport.

The goal is for them to be able to remove waste by increasing the distance between the robot operator and the machines. If the robot is autonomous, that distance increases. A212 uses a system known as SubSlam to broadcast live 3D images of matter inside a spent fuel tank. Operators on the ground can make quick decisions about what to do with the substances. The robot becomes especially useful in situations where nuclear materials are in danger of colliding with each other.

The main risk is latency, since as the distance between the operator and the tools he uses increases, the communication latency also increases, which makes the operation very difficult (reduces reflections).

The A212 also has built-in collision avoidance systems, but it is not yet ready to go to market, at the moment it is only a prototype.