£3m nuclear robotics contract is first tranche in LongOps UK-Japan deal

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The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) has awarded Veolia Nuclear Solutions (UK) and Wälischmiller Engineering GmbH separate contracts totalling £3m to supply robotic manipulator arms to its RACE research facility.

The £3m contract stems from the £12m UK-Japanese robotics deal for fusion energy and nuclear decommissioning research, called ‘LongOps’, announced in January this year.

LongOps will support the delivery of faster and safer decommissioning at the Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO) Fukushima Dai-ichi site in Japan and at Sellafield in the UK.

Veolia Nuclear Solutions (UK) and Wälischmiller Engineering GmbH will each provide a twin-arm haptic manipulator – a form of kinaesthetic communications technology, complete with electrical and control systems, to deliver key aspects of the LongOps project. The manipulators will also be used by UKAEA to train operators that are based at both Sellafield and Fukushima.

In addition, developments from LongOps will be applied to the upgrading, maintenance and dismantling of fusion devices, such as the Joint European Torus (JET).

The four-year LongOps collaboration is led by UKAEA’s Remote Applications in Challenging Environments (RACE) robotics test facility at Culham Science Centre near Oxford.

LongOps is funded equally by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the UK’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and TEPCO.

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