Key research areas

Characterisation

Radiological characterisation is vital during the decommissioning of nuclear installations. It involves detecting and labelling radiation levels, waste materials and contaminants, and determining other parameters (eg. thermal and chemical). This data is then intelligently attached to 3D scene models.

More coming soon

Waste handling

Nuclear waste must be dealt with safely. Robots are being developed to autonomously carry out complex tasks (perceiving, grasping, cutting and manipulating waste). Once sorted, radioactive material can then be stored safely or disposed of appropriately, all through the actions of remotely controlled robots.

More coming soon

Cell decommissioning

A large part of nuclear decommissioning involves dismantling radiation environments (eg. facilities contaminated by plutonium dust). Robots are needed to navigate enclosed spaces and pull apart contaminated pipes, vessels and steelwork. Currently this work is done manually by humans in air-fed suits.

More coming soon

Underwater interventions

Remotely-operated vehicles are being developed to access, inspect and map complex underwater nuclear sites, for when the deployment of a manned vehicle is considered too hazardous.

More coming soon

UAV based site monitoring

Drones (or unmanned aerial vehicles) reduce the need for human entry into radioactive environments. Research is ongoing to develop the next generation of UAVs. These will detect radiation levels both during routine monitoring and after emergencies.

More coming soon

A consortium of 8 universities led by the University of Birmingham is developing cutting-edge technology to solve the problem of nuclear waste. Our mission is to clear the UK of radioactive material - but the human benefits of our tech go far beyond nuclear safety.

Created with Sketch.

The UK holds 4.9 million tons of nuclear waste. With today’s technology, it could take up to 120 years and as much as £200bn to make it safe.

We need new ways to tackle our legacy waste – solutions that are faster, safer and cheaper than what we have now.

Finding them is what we do at the National Centre for Nuclear Robotics (NCNR).

By uniting leading experts in robotics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), sensors, radiation, and resilient embedded systems, we aim to bring Europe’s biggest and most complex environmental challenge to a timely end.

Ncnr Chart

The UK has invested £42 million in the NCNR. Our brief is to reduce nuclear waste, ease the burden on the taxpayer, and create a safer world for future generations. This has been invested by Research institutions, Industry, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and Private Investors.

Ncnr Row

The NCNR is a collaborative project involving international experts from 8 UK universities and 30+ partners from the nuclear industry.

Together, we’re finding ways to make radioactive environments safe and to dispose of nuclear waste. By engaging stakeholders from the entire value chain, we’re uniquely equipped and resourced to develop ground-breaking technologies.

Key People

Key People Placeholder
Professor Rustam Stolkin

Professor Rustam Stolkin

NCNR co-director, University of Birmingham

Rustam leads Birmingham’s Extreme Robotics Lab – Europe’s leading academic lab focused on advanced robotics and AI in nuclear environments. His team created the advanced vision and AI control system, leading to the first deployment of an autonomous robot arm in a radioactive environment.

Professor Tom Scott

Professor Tom Scott

NCNR co-director, University of Bristol

Tom wears many hats, among them co-director of the South West Nuclear Hub and senior research Fellow in actinide metallurgy at the Royal Academy of Engineering. His research focus is on ageing, corrosion and characterisation of radioactive materials in engineered and environmental systems.

Anthony Pipe

Anthony Pipe

Professor of robotics and autonomous systems, University of the West of England (UWE)

Tony is deputy director of the Bristol Robotics Laboratory. For 20 years, he has carried out research on advanced sensor-systems, medical robotics, biologically inspired robotics, machine learning and adaptive behaviour.

Gerhard Neumann

Gerhard Neumann

Professor of robotics and autonomous systems, University of Lincoln

Gerhard is the NCNR’s principle investigator in Lincoln. He has authored 50+ peer-reviewed papers, many of them on machine learning and robotics. His interests include using humans to teach robots how to perform and evaluate complex manipulation tasks such as sorting waste objects in unknown and unstructured environments.

Kaspar Althoefer

Kaspar Althoefer

Professor of robotics engineering, Queen Mary, University of London

Kaspar leads research on robotics at Queen Mary. His interests include robot autonomy, modelling of tool-environment interaction dynamics, sensing and neuro-fuzzy-based sensor signal classification. Applications of these technologies extend way beyond the nuclear industry.

James Taylor

James Taylor

Professor of Control Engineering, Lancaster University

James studies statistical modelling and the control of uncertain systems in the fields of natural sciences and engineering. Applications of his research span robotics, transport, energy, health and the environment.

Dr. Michael Mistry

Dr. Michael Mistry

Reader in robotics, University of Edinburgh

Michael’s interests broadly cover human motion and humanoid robotics. His research focuses on issues relevant to dexterous movement in both humans and humanoid robots. He is a member of his university’s Institute for Perception, Action and Behaviour.

Klaus McDonald-Maier

Klaus McDonald-Maier

Professor of computer science and electronic engineering, University of Essex

Klaus' interests include developing resilient electronic systems that can function in areas of high radioactivity where robots are prone to failure, as well as the computer perception required to understand complex scenes. Klaus’s research interests include embedded systems and system-on-chip design as well as development support and technology to increase performance and reliability. He also studies the applications of artificial intelligence in real world problems and robot control.

Created with Sketch.

The NCNR is a research initiative run by internationally acclaimed experts from 8 UK universities.

Created with Sketch.

Leading a consortium of eight universities, the NCNR will tackle the major challenge of how to safely clean up nuclear waste. #ncnruk

News & Media

News 15/12/2018
News Preview

National Centre - First 12 months

The National Centre is about to complete its first year of its 42 month project. We are excited to be working on our end of year glossy to showcase all of the amazing work we have achieved in the first 12 months.

Media 15/12/2018

National Centre for Nuclear Robotics (NCNR) – an introduction

The NCNR is excited to launch its hugely exciting project in which we are looking forward to combine expertise from eight leading universities. This video explains why this project is such an exciting challenge that we are proud to be tackling.