Minister prepares the ground for new Robotics Centre at Culham
UKAEA is starting construction of a new centre for the development of Remote Applications in Challenging Environments (RACE). Minister breaks ground for RACE
The Rt. Hon. Greg Clark MP, Minister of State for Universities, Science and Cities, visited the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s (UKAEA’s) Culham Science Centre on Thursday 22 January to formally mark the start of the construction phase of a brand new robotics and remote handling centre – RACE.
When fully operational by the end of 2015, the purpose-built, 3,000 square metre RACE building will conduct R&D into many applications of this technology. It will be a key centre for implementing the Government’s Robotics and Autonomous Systems strategy, announced in July, which aims to equip the UK to compete in this emerging global industry.
RACE capitalises on the remote handling systems developed at Culham for the Joint European Torus (JET) fusion project and will enable customers to apply this knowledge to their own fields. It will give access to state-of-the-art test facilities, robotic equipment and expertise to SMEs, multinationals, research laboratories and academia from areas such as space applications, deep sea exploration, fusion research and the advanced nuclear fission industry.
The RACE facility brings together a broad range of expertise from the UK Atomic Energy Authority and its partners the National Nuclear Laboratory, TWI, the National Physical Laboratory and the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre.
UK Atomic Energy Authority
Tel.: 01235 466232
RACE Director Rob Buckingham
RACE is now open for use by customers in existing premises at Culham Science Centre, while the new facility is constructed. Access models are tailored to suite the specific requirements of the user and range from full “member” status (with the ability to influence the development programme of the facility) to “user” status. RACE was announced as part of the City Deal investment into hi-tech research laboratories and businesses in Oxfordshire in January 2014, with the UK Government investing £7.8 million.
The UK Atomic Energy Authority brings to RACE its own experience with remote handling, honed over twenty years developing systems to maintain and upgrade the interior of Europe’s JET nuclear fusion experiment at Culham. Remote handling at Culham has evolved to perform ever more complex tasks including welding, attachment of tiles and diagnostics, and detailed surveys.