Connect-R: Providing Structure in Unstructured Extreme Environments is funded by Innovate UK (TS/S017623/1)
There are many hostile working environments that require sophisticated tasks to be performed, such as the building of structures and deployment of tools where there is significant risk to the health and safety of any manual workers involved, high cost of deployment and significant timescales for completion; examples are Nuclear Decommissioning, Oil and Gas, Mining and Space systems.
Common to many of these environments is the extreme difficulty of effective deployment of the sophisticated kind of equipment that replaces human beings. These environments present the following challenges:
- Hazardous working environments requiring protective equipment and limited time windows for operation
- Limited access through which to deploy the systems
- Unstable structures present that prevent occupation
- Lifting of heavy objects (~50kg) that require mechanical assistance
- Processing of large volumes of liquids (thousands of litres)
Connect-R proposes to develop an industrial-scale, self-building, autonomous, modular robotic solution to provide robotic access to work-sites in these hazardous environments.
The Connect-R team also includes Barrnon Ltd, Ross Robotics, Tharsus, Jigsaw Structures, the UK Atomic Energy Authority and the University of Edinburgh.
See also the press release issued on gov.uk: "Robots to fix underground pipes and help cut roadworks".