New Robotics Equipment Tested in ONKALO Repository

Last June, a research team led by the Swiss robotics company ANYbotics visited Finland to test the functionality of its ANYmal robot in underground facilities.

The four-legged robot, named Donkey, has been designed for autonomous operation in challenging environments, so it has been put through its paces at a depth of more than 400 metres in the tunnels of the Onkalo underground nuclear fuel repository near Olkiluoto.

The European Commission Directorate General for Energy and the Joint Research Centre (JRC) organised the test with Finnish radioactive waste management company Posiva Oy.

The robot uses laser sensors and cameras to perceive its environment and is capable of highly accurate localisation. By combining the observation data with location data (such as a map or area scanning data), it has the ability to plan its navigation path independently, Posiva explained.

The interest in the utilisation of robots is rapidly rising, due to their ability to access places that are inaccessible to humans or that are dangerous to people, like areas of high radiation or toxicity.

Read the full Posiva press release.

Robotics currently finds several applications in the nuclear field, like decommissioning, industry or for nuclear safeguards purposes.

Robots can be equipped with various tools for a wide range of tasks, including optical and thermal cameras, microphones, as well as gas and radiation detectors.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) recently published an interesting bulletin on this topic. It delves into the role of robots and other emerging digital technologies, which are already making significant contributions to the advancement of nuclear decommissioning projects worldwide.

Here is the IAEA Report: “Robots, AI and 3D Models: How High-tech Breakthroughs Help Nuclear Decommissioning“.