Robotics for Nuclear Environments

Keir Groves Earns a Promotion to Permanent Research Fellow!

March 2021

Congratulations to our esteemed researcher Keir Groves for his promotion to permanent Research Fellow in the Robotics for Extreme Environments Group’s. In his new role Keir has already secured two grants where he will be leading development of UoM mobile robot teams with our industrial partner Sellafield Ltd.



Research Associate Positions Available – Cumbria

Feb 2021

Three exciting opportunities to become part of the Robotics for Nuclear Environments programme. If you have an interest in developing robots and autonomous systems that will be necessary to address decommissioning challenges for the UK’s legacy nuclear facilities, please apply below:

Closing date for all posts is 10th March 2021, don’t delay, apply today!


Research Associate Positions Available – Bristol Robotics Laboratory

Aug 2020

Three exciting opportunities to become part of the Robotics for Nuclear Environments programme as part of the BRL. The team at BRL is working on research and development of planning and control approaches for heterogeneous teams of multiple robots and/or humans, and the development of embedded online risk assessment strategies for such robots.

Research Associate – Robust Robot Deployment: For the first post, BRL are looking for a researcher who has experience in robust long-term deployment of robots into hazardous environments, as for example a nuclear facility. See here for more information.

Research Associate – Robot Behaviour Risk Assessment: For the second post, BRL are looking for a researcher with expertise in online behaviour risk assessment. See here for more information.

Research Associate – Multi-Robot Teams: For the third post, BRL are looking for a researcher with expertise in swarm robotics or robot teams. See here for more information.


Closing date for all posts is 4th September 2020, don’t delay, apply today!


ROS for Nuclear Sensing Workshop

Aug 2020

The ROS for nuclear sensing workshop will take place on 13th August 2020, and aims to design ROS message(s) for radiation information to support a range of detectors of various designs to standardise sensor-robot communications. Find out more information here.

Keir Groves CSIRO Secondment

Feb 2020

From October 2019 until February 2020 Keir Groves was seconded to CSIROs Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group, in Brisbane, Australia. CSIRO is Australia’s federal research agency and has extensive capabilities in field robotics and autonomous systems. Presently, CSIRO are mid-way through the DARPA sub-terranean challenge with their fleet of autonomous mobile robots. Keir’s work leveraged the localisation and navigation systems that have been developed at CSIRO to develop the first mobile robot that can autonomously map radiation and at the same time avoid areas that it finds to have high radiation, minimising the dose to the robot. This successful work has sparked future collaboration and technology transfer work between CSIRO and RNE.


Demystifying EPSRC Peer Review Workshop for Researchers

Oct 2019

Researchers attend the workshop ‘Demystifying EPSRC Peer Review’ run by Blue Eagle Academic Services. The workshop was aimed at PDRAs and early career academics, covering what happens following proposal submission and what to or not to do in terms of being a reviewer and a reviewee.

RNE at SPRINT Robotics Conference, Rotterdam

Oct 2019

RNE researcher Craig West attends SPRINT Robotics Conference in Rotterdam, presents work on RNE programme grant. The MallARD platform developed within RNE was presented and discussed by RNE project manager Jenn Jones, and the CARMA platform’s deployment at Sellafield was presented by Manchester researcher Harriet Peel.


RNE Meeting in Cumbria

Aug 2019

RNE bimonthly meeting for academic and research partners, was hosted by the shared facility, the Robotics for Extreme Environments Laboratory, REEL, in Cumbria. The RNE consortium meet every 2 months to discuss research progress and opportunities to collaborate. On this occasion we had a number of guest presentations giving insight into the nuclear industry which included representatives from Sellafield Ltd, the National Nuclear Laboratory and Game Changers.


Robotics Researchers Conference in Cumbria

July 2019

In July a mini-conference was hosted at Summergrove Halls to showcase and celebrate research activities in Cumbria. RNE was represented by researcher Craig West, amongst other presentations from the RAIN Hub and CINDe consortium students. The event was well attended by industry including representatives from Sellafield Ltd and The National Nuclear Laboratory.

Sellafield Technical Day 2019

June 2019

RNE was invited to participate in a series of presentations, demonstrations and activities, as a key engagement opportunity with plant operators and key stakeholders on the Sellafield site. The day was an opportunity to showcase technologies currently in development within RNE and related robotics programmes. The Land-Mallard robot was demonstrated as part of the day. Companies participating in the day also included Fluke, Fluidic, Yokogawa, Omniflex, Flexim, and Rexel.

Virtual Reality Teleoperation Demo at The University of Birmingham’s Extreme Robotics Lab

May 2019

Delegates visiting The University of Birmingham’s Extreme Robotics Lab piloting the virtual reality (VR) teleoperation setup being developed by Dr Mohammed Talha. The setup is being used to evaluate the suitability of VR/AR technologies for remote control of robots in the nuclear industry. VR allows users to freely move around in the remote environment offering improved perception as well as allowing for more intuitive control of robots through 6-degree of freedom controllers.

Communication Workshop for Researchers

May 2019

Researchers attend the workshop ‘Communicating with Clarity and Confidence’ run by Blue Eagle Academic Services.

IAEA Robotics Challenge 2017, Update

March 2019

Following the second round, MallARD was selected along with two other platforms to compete in the third and final round of the competition. Software improvements were made to the platform, as well as some mechanical modifications made by the IAEA. In August 2018 the IAEA inspectors visited our laboratory in Cumbria, REEL, where they were trained on MallARD’s deployment, use and trouble-shooting, before taking the platform to Vienna to conduct multiple inactive field tests. In November 2018, the IAEA deployed the MallARD platform in a spent nuclear fuel pool at a nuclear power plant in Finland. Mallard was deployed in two storage pools and functioned as specified and without fault in both environments. Of the three robots, MallARD had the best vertical and course stability, power and propulsion as well as trajectory control. However, the Hungarian team, Datastart, used a buoy-like design which in the end won the competition as it was easier to clean and decontaminate. Download the public report here.

Photo of the 3 entries in the nuclear fuel pond in Finland, Nov 2018. Photo credit IAEA.

Latest Update from Bristol Robotics Laboratory

Dec 2018

Check out RNE project partner Bristol Robotics Laboratory’s latest videos on immersive tele-operation for nuclear decommissioning and a time-lapse video showcasing the build of a mock-up nuclear facility scenario which will be used for benchmarking and testing our RNE robotics.

Robotics for Extreme Environments Researcher’s Workshop

Aug 2018

Extreme Environments workshop for robotics researchers was held on 1st August 2018 at the Rheged Centre, near Penrith. Researcher presentations were delivered from members of RNE, RAIN Hub and NCNR. The day included guest presentations from the NDA, Createc and Game Changers.

Researchers Workshop Agenda


RNE visit to Artificial Life Laboratory at Karl-Franzens University of Graz, Austria

July 2018

Dr Farshad Arvin visited to study possibilities of using bio-inspired algorithms for applications in extreme environments. For example, honeybees’ social behaviour in finding the optimal zone in their hive could help robots find possible chemical leakages.

Researchers Workshop, 1st August 2018

10am-4pm @ Rheged Discovery Centre

Please contact us if you would like to attend.

Towards Autonomous Robotic Systems: TAROS

25th-27th July 2018 @ Bristol Robotics Laboratory

We look forward to seeing you there!


May 2018

RNE team members Barry Lennox and Keir Groves participated in ICRA 2018. Keir Groves was supporting the IAEA stand at the conference as part of our on-going participation in the 2017 IAEA robotics challenge. Of 27 entrants into the challenge, MALLARD is one of the three systems that were found to be technically acceptable. The MALLARD system is presently undergoing design improvements ready for active field trials.

Good luck and thanks to Lenka!

Feb 2018

RNE team member Lenka Pitonakova has finished her simulation environment project for RNE and has moved to the University of Bristol as a research associate in applied mathematics and computer science. Check out Lenka’s work for RNE here and at TAROS 2018. Check out Lenka’s page here.

Coming soon

‘Robotics for Extreme Environments’ Researchers Workshop, Summer 2018, Cumbria.


Contact us for more info.

Dr Keir Groves from RNE travels to Brisbane, Australia to take part in second stage of the IAEA Robotics Challenge for USV (unmanned surface vehicle)

Nov 2017

EPSRC announce more funding in AI and Robotics

Nov 2017

Government funding through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) has been awarded for the robotics and AI in extreme environments programme. The programme will develop robotic solutions to enable safer working environments in industries such as off-shore energy, space, deep mining and nuclear energy.


Manchester press release on RAIN

Nov 2017

The Robotics and Artificial Intelligence for Nuclear (RAIN) initiative has been created to undertake world-leading research and develop innovative technologies to address issues such as decommissioning, waste management, fusion, plant life extension and new site builds. RAIN will bring together expertise from the Universities of Oxford, Liverpool, Sheffield, Nottingham, Lancaster, Bristol and the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), as well as international partners from the US, Italy and Japan.


Birmingham press release for NCNR

Nov 2017

The National Centre for Nuclear Robotics (NCNR) has secured new investment through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF), which will go towards developing robotic solutions to make a safer working environment in industries such as off-shore energy, nuclear energy, space and deep mining, increase productivity and open up new cross disciplinary opportunities, not currently available.

Funding announcement for RNE

Feb 2017

Funding from The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) will develop robots for use in the cleanup of nuclear facilities. The research group developing the robots is comprised of the universities of Manchester, Birmingham, and UWE. It also includes experts from Sellafield, EDF Energy, UKAEA and NuGen.