ITER Robotics Test Facility

Ensuring that ITER, the world’s largest fusion experiment, can be remotely maintained.
The RACE work hall, populated with cells containing robots, is home to the ITER Robotics Test Facility
ITER Neutral Beam Cell. The rails in this image are part of the ITER remote handling system

Through the ITER Robotics Test Facility (IRTF), full scale mock-up and R&D trials have been designed, built and conducted. These trials replicate typical remote in-vessel and hot cell tasks that will be undertaken at ITER to maintain and upgrade the machine and remove the need for human intervention.

Within the IRTF programme, we are designing robotic tooling to remotely cut and weld pipes, and locate, bolt, join and inspect components; and manipulate large items with great precision. Combining the results from the IRTF trials with our unique knowledge from JET remote handling operations, RACE is directly influencing the design and architecture of reactor sub-systems and de-risking first of a kind remote operations. 

In collaboration with ITER and industrial partners the IRTF portfolio began in late 2016. Many of the 20 projects are now complete, but work on many of the major systems at ITER is ongoing.

These include: 

  • Port plug fastening
  • Port plug maintenance in the hot cell
  • Cutting, welding and non-destructive evaluation of pipes
  • Accurate location and fastening of components varying from 20 kg to 10 tonnes 
  • Remotely deployed tooling to maintain systems in the neutral beam cell
  • Hardware for the hot cell
A Kuka industrial robot lifts a storage barrel at an exhibition event

Working collaboratively, my team incorporates everyone’s expertise, from across engineering disciplines, to design bespoke tooling for the robotic maintenance of ITER. I’ve just moved to the south of France to be right at the heart of the project – it’s super exciting!

Helena Livesey

Lead Mechanical Design Engineer

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, maintaining and operating the unique remote handling system at JET, the record-breaking fusion facility.

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

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

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