United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

T9  Deployment of Robotic Technologies at Nuclear Facilities

The session's purpose is to inform, discuss, and assess past, present, and anticipated future uses of robotic technologies at nuclear facilities. This session will focus on experiences and lessons learned from the use of mobile and stationary robots in challenging environments at nuclear and non-nuclear industrial facilities. The specific objectives for this session are as follows:

(1) Share information amongst U.S. and international government agencies, industry, and academia on the present use and development of robotic technology for monitoring, sampling, surveillance, and maintenance functions for a range of environmental conditions within critical infrastructures.

(2) Discuss ideas and insights from industry and government agencies on the development of robotic technologies to execute complex tasks during a severe nuclear accident.

(3) Present and discuss strategies for using robotic technologies to detect, examine, and recover radioactive materials from damaged nuclear facilities.

(4) Discuss regulation and licensing for robotic technologies at licensed nuclear facilities.

(5) Outline realistic plans to test the robots and operators for a range of scenarios.

(6) Discuss the development and implementation of standards for evaluating robot and operator performance and integration with systems at nuclear facilities.

(7) Identify groundbreaking opportunities for improving safety in the nuclear industry through the use of robotic technologies.

The use of robotic technology is relevant to a range of criteria within the regulatory framework.  For instance, the deployment of robotic technologies supports Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR) Part 20.1101, “Radiation Protection Programs,” which states in paragraph (b) that, "The licensee shall use, to the extent practical, procedures and engineering controls based upon sound radiation protection principles," which will significantly reduce exposures to workers.  For land disposal of radioactive waste, 10 CFR Part 61.43, "Protection of Individuals during Operations," discusses as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA) considerations which may involve the use of robotic technologies.  For decommissioning under the requirements of 10 CFR Part 72.126, "Criteria for Radiological Protection," the licensee shall provide surveillance and characterization of waste inventories and onsite storage, which may include robotic monitoring.  For high-level radioactive waste disposal under 10 CFR Part 63, "Subpart F - Performance Confirmation Program," requirements, robotic technologies may be used in the licensee's performance confirmation program. Additionally, 10 CFR Part 50.65, “Requirements for monitoring the effectiveness of maintenance at nuclear power plants,” provides requirements for monitoring the effectiveness of maintenance at nuclear power plants, which would govern the use of robotic technologies for these activities at applicable facilities.  At present, existing nuclear power plants are using robotic technology to monitor operations and performance on a continuing basis.

Takeaway messages include the challenges encountered (e.g., high levels of radioactivity affecting electronics or humans factors involving the relationship between the operator and robot), adaptations implemented to overcome challenges, and successes that were realized by the deployments of robotic technologies at nuclear facilities.

  • Joan Knight, Innovation Director, Exelon Generation
  • Jeremy Renshaw, Senior Technical Leader, Nondestructive Evaluation, Electric Power Research Institute
  • Ian Gifford, Reliability and Risk Analyst, Division of Risk Analysis, RES/NRC tel: 301-415-3256, e-mail: Ian.Gifford@nrc.gov
  • Anders Gibertson, Reliability and Risk Analyst, Division of Risk Analysis, RES/NRC tel: 301-415-1541, e-mail: Anders.Gibertson@nrc.gov
Page Last Reviewed/Updated Tuesday, May 24, 2016