Robotics for Nuclear Environments

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The four research teams and the internationally-leading experts who will head them

The research programme will be delivered through four interconnecting themes. Each team will focus on one theme. Themes 1 – 3 will concentrate on developing novel robot technologies while theme 4 will provide rigorous performance evaluation methodologies.


  • The University of Manchester

    Research Theme 1

    Professor Barry Lennox

    FIET, FInstMC, MIChemE, CEng, SMIEEE

    Lead for Research Theme 1 and principal investigator of the RNE research programme.

    Barry Lennox is a Professor of Applied Control and Research Director of the £20 million Dalton Cumbrian Facility (DCF). Between 2012 and 2015 he was the EPSRC Chair in Nuclear Decommissioning.

    Professor Lennox has considerable experience of nuclear decommissioning and of developing control systems and sensing technologies for industrial processes and robotics. He has published more than 150 articles on these subjects and leads a nuclear robotics group made up of six academics, nine PDRAs and fifteen PhDs. His understanding of technology transfer led him to co-found Perspective Engineering Limited, a control solutions provider employing twenty five technologists and rated as outstanding in an impact study. He has received numerous accolades including the Energy Innovator Awards 2016 for his Acoustek system, now used routinely in the oil and gas industry for detecting blockages in pipelines.

    Barry is also the PI of the newly EPSRC funded RAIN hub to develop research into Robotics and Artificial Intelligence in Nuclear

    Dr Simon Watson

    Dr Watson is a lecturer in robotics with eight years of experience of developing robotic devices for use in nuclear facilities. Currently he is involved in two Knowledge Partnership Transfers (developing a robotic spider and an underwater ROV, both for nuclear applications). He is also working on an EPSRC project (designing ROVs to perform nuclear characterisation at Fukushima) and on several Sellafield projects including the development of robotic systems for the characterisation of dry and wet storage facilities.

    Dr Keir Groves

    Dr Keir Groves is a Research Associate in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at The University of Manchester. He holds a PhD in mechanical engineering and has specialisation in vibration and acoustics. More specifically he has published several papers on aero-engine dynamics and has been heavily involved in research and development related to acoustic pipe inspection. In his current role he has led the design and build of the MALLARD platform, an autonomous water surface inspection/monitoring vehicle. His current research focus is on acoustic underwater positioning systems and robot odometry in water.

    Dr Farshad Arvin

    Dr Farshad Arvin is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at The University of Manchester, UK (since July 2015). He received his BSc degree in Computer Engineering in 2004, MSc degree in Computer Systems Engineering in 2010, and PhD in Computer Science in 2015. He was a Research Assistant at the Computational Intelligence Laboratory (CIL) at the University of Lincoln, UK. He was awarded a Marie Curie Fellowship to be involved in the FP7-EYE2E and LIVCODE EU projects during his PhD study in Lincoln. Farshad has been a visiting researcher at several leading institutes including the Institute of Microelectronics at Tsinghua University in Beijing, and recently the Advanced Robotic Lab at the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Genoa. His research interests include swarm robotics, autonomous systems, and collective robotics.

    Farshad is a MIET member of the IET, member of IEEE, and Chartered Engineer (CEng) registered with the Engineering Council.

    Dr Wei Cheah

    Dr Wei Cheah is a Research Associate with the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at The University of Manchester. He received his MEng in Mechatronics Engineering in 2015 and is currently in the final year of his PhD.

    He has been involved in Knowledge Partnership Transfer projects and his PhD research has led to a work development package within the RAIN project. His research background is in design and motion planning for legged robots, and is now focusing on wireless power transfer.

  • Bristol Robotics Laboratory

    Research Theme 2

    Professor Tony Pipe

    Lead for Research Theme 2 and Deputy Director of Bristol Robotics Laboratory

    Tony Pipe is Professor of Robotics and Autonomous Systems. His expertise is in safe, close-proximity Human-Robot interaction, provable safe and convergent constrained machine learning, adaptive behaviour applied to intelligent and distributed control/monitoring systems and self-repairing, re-programmable digital VSLI for safety-critical systems.

    Since 2005 Professor Pipe has been the author of over 180 publications and has led grant projects worth more than £2.5 million. He is the University of the West of England Principal Investigator on the EPSRC Trustworthy Robotic Assistants project. He is also Principal Investigator on two Innovate UK autonomous road vehicle projects. In addition, Professor Pipe and others at BRL were active members of the working groups that led to the creation of ISO 13482d:2014 (safety requirements for personal care robots). This standard has great relevance to the RNE research programme, which focuses on robotics for another safety-critical domain.

    Professor Alan Winfield

    A Professor of Electronic Engineering and Director of the University of the West of England Science Communication Unit, Alan Winfield’s expertise ranges from swarm intelligence to the impact of robotics on society. He has published over 200 works and has been awarded grants totalling £5.1 million since 1992.

    Amongst Professor Winfield’s many on-going projects is the EU FP7 euRathlon robotics competition, which he leads. The competition pits air, land and sea multi-robot teams against each other in a mock search-and-rescue challenge modelled on the Fukushima nuclear accident. (

    Professor Manuel Giuliani

    Manuel Giuliani is Professor in Embedded Cognitive AI for Robotics at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, University of the West of England, Bristol. Before coming to Bristol, he led the Human-Robot Interaction group at the Center for Human-Computer Interaction, Department of Computer Sciences, University of Salzburg. He received a Master of Arts in computational linguistics from Ludwig-Maximilian-University Munich, a Master of Science in computer science from Technische Universität München, and a PhD in computer science from Technische Universität München. He worked on the European projects JAST (Joint Action Science and Technology), JAMES (Joint Action for Multimodal Embodied Social Systems), ReMeDi (Remote Medical Diagnostician) and the Austrian Christian-Doppler-Laboratory "Contextual Interfaces".

    Professor Manuel Giuliani's research interests include human-robot interaction, social robotics, natural language processing, multimodal fusion, multimodal output generation, and robot architectures.

    Dr Paul Bremner

    Paul Bremner received a BSc in Robotic and Electronic Systems Engineering from the University of Salford in 2003. He received an MSc in Advanced Technologies in Electronics and a PhD in Human-Robot interaction from the University of the West of England in 2005 and 2010 respectively.

    Since 2010 he has worked at the University of the West of England on a number of projects, first as a research associate then as a research fellow. His research interests include human-robot interaction, multi-modal communication, tele-presence, artificial intelligence and robot ethics.

    Jennifer David

    Jennifer David a mechatronics engineer with an MSc in Robotics from IIT Madras and completed her PhD (awaiting viva) at Halmstad University, Sweden. During her PhD, she worked on multi-robot task allocation & motion planning and coordination of multi-robot systems and autonomous vehicles. Jennifer joins the Robotics for Nuclear Environments programme as a PDRA and is investigating online risk assessment for heterogenous multi-robot systems.

    Former Members

    Dr Tom Bridgwater

    Dr Tom Bridgwater is a Research Associate at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory. He received his BSc in physics in 2014 from UCL and is currently in the final year of his PhD, with the FARSCOPE Centre for Doctoral Training.

    During his PhD he examined the use of a heterogeneous swarm for autonomous exploration and mapping of nuclear environments. He is now working on the Robotics for Nuclear Environments project, investigating online risk assessment. Specifically, studying how a robot's risk profile effects user trust.

    Dr Craig West

    Craig is a research associate working for Bristol Robotics Lab, but based in Cumbria. He completed an MEng in Mechatronic Engineering at Lancaster University, then worked in industry for a year before beginning a PhD in Nuclear Robotics in October 2014, back at Lancaster University. His PhD project was based on the development of a robotic research platform consisting of two hydraulic manipulators on a mobile base.

    In April 2020 Craig joined The University of Manchester as a Robotics Experimental Officer at their Robotics for Extreme Environments Laboratory, REEL, Cumbria.

  • University of Birmingham

    Research Theme 3

    Professor Rustam Stolkin

    Lead for Research Theme 3 and Senior Birmingham Fellow in Robotics

    Professor Stolkin is an international leader in the development of robots for nuclear applications. He currently heads two nuclear robotic projects – the 6.4 million (Euros)H2020 EU consortium R0MaNS and a joint UK-Korea research programme into unmanned systems that can handle and retrieve contaminated materials. Both of these will run in parallel with the first one and a half years of the RNE programme. Professor Stolkin also leads a £250k, three-year project with KUKA-UK, the preferred supplier of robots to the UK nuclear industry.

    A generalist who has published over 80 papers and holds two patents spanning both the mechanical and computational aspects of robotics, Professor Stolkin’s activities span computer vision, robotic manipulation, robot vehicles, human-robot interfaces and human factors. He is an active member of the IEEE Technical Committee on Robotics and Automation in Nuclear Facilities.

    Professor Stolkin is also the Principal Investigator at the National Centre for Nuclear Robotics. The NCNR has received £11.3 million of ISCF funding to develop advanced robotics and AI technologies for nuclear applications.

    Dr Vijaykumar Rajasekaran

    Dr Vijaykumar Rajasekaran is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Extreme Robotics Lab, School of Metallurgy and Materials, University of Birmingham, UK. He received his Doctorate in Biomedical Engineering with specialisation in assistive exoskeletons from Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya, Barcelona-Tech, Spain (2015).

    He is a recipient of Erasmus Mundus scholarship for pursuing Masters in Advanced Robotics in Ecole Centrale de Nantes, France (2009) and Warsaw University of Technology, Poland (2010). His research interests are in the fields of Kinematic manipulation, Human-Robot interaction, Human motor control, Dynamic control and Rehabilitation Robotics.

    He joined the University of Birmingham as a Postdoctoral Research fellow in 2016 and has been working on two European projects related to Human haptic perception and Robotic manipulation. In this project, his research work is on tele-manipulation control and human-robot collaboration for nuclear decommissioning tasks.

    Dr Mohammed Talha

    Dr Mohammed Talha is a research associate in the Extreme Robotics Lab at the University of Birmingham. He received the B.Sc. degree in Computer Science with Artificial Intelligence, from the University of Birmingham, Birmingham, U.K., in 2011. He recently submitted his thesis on "Human Factors Issues in Telerobotic Decommissioning of Nuclear Facilities" as part of his Eng.D at the University of Birmingham supported by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

    Prior to his doctoral studies, he worked as a research assistant in the Intelligent Robotics Laboratory with the University of Birmingham. His research interests include human factors, human-robot interfaces, human-robot interaction and virtual reality.

  • National Nuclear Laboratory

    Research Theme 4

    Dr Steve Shackleford

    Lead for Research Theme 4 and Acting Director, Fuel Cycle Solutions

    Dr Steve Shackleford has extensive experience of in-service inspection and repair, lifetime assessments and remote decommissioning. He is involved with Sellafield’s highly active inspection programme, the BEP robotics programme, the EU RoMaNS project and the Innovate UK laser snake project.