Collaborative research

Collaborating with leading academic institutions and innovative organisations to identify and develop new fusion-relevant robotics.

RACE has a growing research team that focusses on robotic research and development to support the UKAEA’s fusion programmes.

From over 30,000 hours of operational experience, the RACE research team has world-leading knowledge of the challenges, constraints and operational considerations of remote handling technology.

The team is continuously developing fresh knowledge and capabilities, seeking opportunities to transfer new technology out of academia or from other industries. These innovations are applied across RACE’s fusion robotics programmes.

Key challenges for robotics in fusion & beyond 

  1. Architecture optimisation including design for remote maintenance
  2. Service joining including pipes, bolts, connectors
    and NDE
  3. Slender mechanisms and operations in
    confined, cramped spaces
  4. Handling of challenging components
  5. Environmental compatibility including radiation, vacuum, magnetic fields
  6. Assurance, trust and regulation
  7. Rapid response including inspection and in-situ repair
  8. Maintenance productivity
  9. Waste management
  10. Through-life cost reduction for long-lived facilities
The Robotics Challenge for Fusion Energy publication

Robotics challenges for fusion energy

To learn more about the key challenges, please download the brochure

UK Magnetic Fusion Research Programme

The UK Magnetic Fusion Research Programme is a collaborative endeavour that brings together world-leading research from RACE in collaboration with top UK universities.

This program focusses on five key topics: long-reach deployment robotics, radiation-tolerant systems and materials, in-situ repair techniques, pipe service joining and long-term autonomous inspection. Through research and innovation, we aim to advance the frontiers of fusion robotics and contribute to the future of fusion energy.

SPOT performing autonomous inspection in the RACE workhall
RACE is collaborating with Korea Institute of Fusion Energy (KFE) on Korea’s DEMO-class fusion machine.

Collaboration with Korea Institute of Fusion Energy (KFE)

RACE is collaborating with Korea Institute of Fusion Energy (KFE) to further develop foundational remote maintenance capabilities. These will be critical for future fusion devices like K-DEMO – Korea’s DEMO-class fusion machine. Together we will be conducting R&D into key challenge areas of fusion robotics including tendon driven arms, in-pipe cutting and welding, and radiation-resilient electronics.

Automated Inspection and Maintenance

The Automated Inspection and Maintenance Unit is a modular robot cell for research, with two robots with 10 kg payload and 1.3 m reach mounted on rails, with interchangeable end effectors and a range of sensors.   

The cell allows us to perform research into automation for maintenance tasks over extended periods without human intervention.  

Automated Inspection and Maintenance Equipment. Funded as part of UKRI’s Magnetic Fusion Research Programme
Operators perform a remote task in the JET remote handling control room. Part of the Robotics and Artificial Intelligence in Nuclear (RAIN) collaboration with the University of Manchester

Robotics and Artificial Intelligence in Nuclear (RAIN)  

RAIN was a research collaboration between RACE and 11 UK universities, led by the University of Manchester.

RACE led the Remote Handling Working Group for RAIN – a collaborative community of researchers working in nuclear.

Together we developed technologies to take hands out of gloveboxes, making nuclear decommissioning safer, faster and more cost-efficient.

RACE Programmes

RACE is engineering the freedom to operate in challenging environments. To achieve our fusion engineering goals, we work internationally with end users, industry supply chains and academia.

Developing digital tools to enable faster, safer and more cost-effective decommissioning.

Developing maintenance techniques for the UK’s ambitious prototype fusion energy plant.

Developing an in-house suite of software for performing remote tasks using robotics in challenging environments.

Keep up to date with what's going on at RACE