Home » Robot dogs assist with Scotland’s largest nuclear clean-up and demolition

Robot dogs assist with Scotland’s largest nuclear clean-up and demolition

by Liam Turner
Boston Dynamics' 'Spot', the robot dog

A pack of robot dogs have been deployed at a former nuclear energy scheme in Dounreay, Scotland, to assist with decommissioning.

Dounreay and Createc, the systems integrator for Spot, are working together on a series of seven use cases for the ROV (remotely operated vehicle), which will be carried out over the next 12 months.

Spot, a robotic quadruped developey by Boston Dynamics, can climb stairs, avoid obstacles, and move over rough ground, allowing it to monitor and collect data in hazardous areas.

A dedicated Createc employee will be based on site to initially lead the projects and will train Dounreay staff to use the robot.

‘Not just a gimmick’

According to Heather Fairweather, the innovation team’s project manager, the use cases will demonstrate the multi-tasking value of the ROV and its ability to carry out practical work.

She said: “Spot is not just a gimmick; it’s a practical tool that we can use to survey and monitor in areas where people should not or cannot go.

“We are investigating all the ways that we can use the ROV so that we can get the most out of it.

“I believe that this is the way forward where operators can minimise their dose rates but still get the job done.

“It’s not to replace operators, but to help them.”

Spot has been deployed at sites across the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) estate, with the NDA co-funding the work at Dounreay.

Spot was recently deployed at the Sellafield nuclear reactor site, demonstrating how learning is being shared across sites to deliver better outcomes, move people further away from harm, and decommission more efficiently.

Spot’s next trial will be to use LIDAR, or 3D laser scanning, to create an external survey of the site’s facilities.

Image: Boston Dynamics’ robot dog ‘Spot’. Credit: Antonello Marangi/Shutterstock

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