This is a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition funded by the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA).

LongOps is a 3.5 year £12 million programme of R&D that brings together three international nuclear decommissioning use cases:

  • decommissioning in the UK by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and Sellafield Limited (SL)
  • decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi reactors in Japan by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO)
  • fusion remote operations (UKAEA)

The use of robotic systems and digital technologies in the 3 use cases vary. The Joint European Torus (JET) reactor uses these technologies to support and facilitate remote maintenance, inspection and handling tasks. But the technologies are not currently being used in a decommissioning context.

For Sellafield and Fukushima Daichi, robotic systems and digital technologies are not widespread due to the complexity of robotic hardware, regulatory approval and the increased safety concerns associated with digital technologies. Additionally, unstructured environments introduce unique challenges which are not necessarily present in structured environments.

The aim of this competition is to develop digital technologies to address the 3 use cases in each of the 5 challenge areas and to develop a supply chain supporting decommissioning activities in the future.

Your project must focus only on the development of bespoke technologies and methodologies in one of the 5 challenges in the LongOps programme:

  • Challenge 1: Generic architectures and interfaces for interoperable robotic systems and digital twins
  • Challenge 2: CorteX control system software assurance
  • Challenge 3: Research and development of novel methods, systems and algorithms for path planning, control, vibration suppression to support nuclear decommissioning operators’ using long reach systems
  • Challenge 4: Development of novel techniques for incorporating haptics on virtual training platforms
  • Challenge 5: Research and development of novel techniques and technologies for automated change and anomaly detection, and incorporating sensor data into digital twins

Your project must:

  • start by 1 July 2022
  • end by 31 December 2023
  • last between 6 and 18 months
  • have total project costs of up to £150,000 inclusive of VAT

Any organisation of any size can lead on an application, and can work alone or collaborate.

A briefing event will be held on 28th March, 1.30pm-4pm; this is a hybrid event, and you can attend virtually, or in person at Milton Hill House, Oxford OX13 6AF.