Acting EM Assistant Secretary Sue Cange and Rob Buckingham, director of the Center for Remote Applications in Challenging Environments, shake hands after signing the Statement of Intent. Courtesy/DOE-EM
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Department of Energy Office of Evironmental Management (EM) and the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Agency (UKAEA) have agreed to further collaborate to develop and apply robotics to nuclear decommissioning tasks.
Representatives from EM and the UKAEA earlier this month signed a new Statement of Intent (SOI), providing the framework for exchange of information and personnel on remote handling and robotic systems in managing radioactive waste, nuclear materials and cleanup of nuclear installations.
“This is a first step in an important collaboration on robotics between the United States and the United Kingdom. The timing could not be better as, by working together, I am sure we will develop more effective solutions to address our decommissioning challenges,” said Acting EM Assistant Secretary Sue Cange, who signed the SOI March 6 at the 2017 Waste Management Symposia in Phoenix, Ariz.
Dr. Rob Buckingham, director of the Center for Remote Applications in Challenging Environments (RACE), signed the agreement on behalf of the UKAEA, which hosts RACE. That center recently built a facility to develop and demonstrate aspects of remote systems, including inspection, maintenance and decommissioning.
“Robotics and autonomous systems is one of the UK governments key initiatives identified in its recently issued Industrial Strategy, and I am excited by the opportunity to work with our U.S. colleagues to develop robotic tools to work in hazardous and extreme environments,” Buckingham said.
The SOI gives EM access to the RACE facility to demonstrate remote system capabilities developed under EMs Technology Development program.
“RACE gives DOE an excellent platform to demonstrate the performance of the remote systems to help us to bring those technologies to the DOE market for safer and more cost-effective cleanup in the future,” said Rod Rimando, director of EMs Office of Technology Development.