Malvern and Bristol tech companies in live demo of Autonomous Underwater Survey Robot

This March an intelligent underwater autonomous survey robot, fitted with sonar technology to detect and avoid obstacles so it can be used near critical infrastructure, successfully completed its nuclear use trials at Forths Deep Recovery Facility in Cumbria. Making up part of the team was Malvern-based D-RisQ.

D-RisQ are a part of a team led by Bristol-based Rovco Ltd. which includes Forth Ltd, the National Oceanography Centre (NOC), Thales UK and The University of Manchester. The project is supported by Innovate UK under the Industrial Strategy Research Fund.

During the two-hour presentation and demonstration attendees, including representatives from Sellafield Ltd and other potential customers, saw the robot successfully move autonomously through the pond, avoiding collisions, locating items on the pond floor and relaying images for interpretation in real-time on screens nearby on dry land.

D-RisQ brings advanced automated software development tools to safety-critical, security-critical and business-critical systems developers. The company has used these tools to develop a high integrity, autonomous decision making, safety-critical software package for this demonstrator. Termed the Last Response Engine (LRE), it enables the autonomous operation of the robot in accordance with the highest regulatory standards.

Nick Tudor, CEO of D-RisQ Ltd. said: As well as providing the guidance to the robot in critical phases of the mission we have shown that we can alter the capability of the LRE quickly and efficiently using our automated tools whilst maintaining the highest levels of behavioural verification. Our ability to incorporate new sensors and new data has been key to the demonstration’s success”

Gary Cross, Senior Robotics Engineer at Rovco, said: The whole challenge was being able to take people away from hazardous and dangerous environments. Increasing the distance between the operators and the environment they’re working in is key to safety and the easiest way to do it is to make the vehicle remote, remotely controlled and remotely operated.

Steven Martin, Business Change Manager at Sellafield Ltd, I’ve worked on all the (development) programmes and this is the furthest we’ve got towards achieving the requirements we need for not only inspection intervention of items that we have within our facilities at Sellafield, but also for taking that technology across the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority estate and across the whole UK nuclear programmes as we move into decommissioning.”