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Autonomous Sorting Of Nuclear Waste Uses Machine Vision and Machine Learning

UK laser systems integrator, Cyan Tec has revealed a fully autonomous robotic sort and segregation system for handling nuclear waste. This innovative project drives forward technology in nuclear decommissioning enabling low and intermediate level waste to be sorted remotely. The advanced robotic solution is capable of safely, effectively and efficiently sorting non-radioactive waste, to increase recycling rates, reduce the number of waste containers sent for disposal and reduce the hazard to people and the environment.

The state-of-the-art system assesses the radioactivity and physical characteristics of nuclear waste then sorts and segregates it into the correct containers with data collected to inform package records. The vision system, with machine learning, acquires 2D images and 3D cloud data of objects to automatically identify individual waste and enable robotic handling. Vision and monitoring equipment autonomously control the robot and gripper selection to segregate and package nuclear waste. Advanced material analysis techniques include laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy capable of penetrating surface coatings to analyse base materials.

Managing Director Tony Jones reports “Cyan Tec is excited to pushing the boundaries of AI and robotic technology in the nuclear industry.”

Cyan Tec’s reliable solution is both configurable and scalable enabling it to handle waste of different sizes and radioactivity levels. Cyan Tec’s modular approach means the system can be simply transferable to different nuclear facilities and environments.

Together with its partners Cyan Tec successfully achieved funding for the development of the new system through the ‘Sort and Seg’ innovation competition – launched by Sellafield in partnership with the UK’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and Magnox. The aim was to reduce waste, reduce manual sorting and increase segregation productivity in nuclear decommissioning.

The key benefits of the new system for the nuclear decommissioning industry include increased sustainability, reduced risks to personnel and significant savings in disposal costs.

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