Remote monitoring technologies showcased at UK event

27 June 2023


A Remote Monitoring of Sensitive Sites demonstration event organised by the UK Defence & Security Accelerator (DASA) and Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) showcased 10 novel technologies at the Harwell Satellite Applications Catapult. NDA said the technologies presented at the event “can add value to the nuclear decommissioning, defence and security communities by reducing risk to personnel and also increasing the efficiency of operations”.

These technologies were funded through a £750,000 ($955,000) innovation competition run by DASA on behalf of the NDA to encourage development of innovative, next-generation technologies to help enhance NDA’s ability to autonomously monitor and inspect nuclear sites.

The competition sought capability studies for innovative, next-generation technologies to underpin the remote monitoring of sensitive sites, help promote more proactive decision making, while minimising the hazards associated with carrying out risky on-site operations. The demonstration event served as a platform for innovators to showcase their solutions for the competition’s three challenge areas:

  • Challenge 1: Built environment and infrastructure;
  • Challenge 2: Environmental monitoring and land use; and
  • Challenge 3: Security and resilience.

“We use innovation and technology to support us in delivering our mission to clean-up the UK’s oldest nuclear sites safely, securely and sustainably,” said Andrew Gray, NDA’s Innovation Delivery Manager. “These technologies could help us to improve our decision-making processes while also moving our people further away from harm and preventing them from needing to be physically present in hazardous environments.”

The following 10 technologies were demonstrated at the event.

  1. Earth-i Ltd presented an asset mapping and monitoring system that links multiple data sources, using high resolution satellite Earth Observation data combined with airborne and terrestrial data sources to provide a set of information layers to support NDA decision makers.
  2. ANRA Technologies presented their uncrewed mission manager to enable remote management of autonomous systems for monitoring sensitive sites across the NDA estate.
  3. Archangel Imaging, a veteran-owned business, showcased its mobile, autonomous Artificial Intelligence (AI) camera system that can be customised with specific algorithms, such as vehicle or people detection, and is interoperable with other devices (eg drones), to monitor sites.
  4. Glasgow-based Lynkeos Technology Ltd presented a structural monitoring project, utilising muography. This technique uses natural radiation to monitor complex structures and assess their integrity, including identifying any voids or any degradation of steel reinforcement bars. This project seeks to develop a portable muography capability for monitoring underground, ageing reinforced concrete infrastructure.
  5. Durham University showcased an autonomous wide-area surveillance camera to detect human and vehicle activity. Using AI, it utilises persistent, all-condition sensing coupled with real-time algorithms to remotely monitor the perimeter of sensitive sites and identify unusual activity.
  6. ISS Aerospace presented an autonomous unmanned aerial system (UAS) with on-board real time AI processing, capable of learning their environment. The UAS is used to respond to environmental changes detected by ground-based sensors which can collect data for temperature, humidity, noise, motion, and air quality.
  7. The National Physical Laboratory, in collaboration with Metrosol and the University of Manchester, presented a novel thermometer that can replace conventional sensors in harsh environments up to 600 °C. The thermometer uses non-invasive electronic Johnson noise (electronic noise generated by thermal agitation) to measure temperature, improving reliability and reducing calibration costs.
  8. Autonomous Devices Ltd presented an update on Theia, an aerial robotic Swiss Army knife for contact-based inspection, providing operators with a rapid and highly automated means of deploying sensors and cameras directly onto the most inaccessible parts of a sensitive site.
  9. Telespazio UK Ltd presented a non-intrusive satellite-based technology to monitor water related anomalies, providing early insight into risky areas, reducing the need for on-site investigations and supporting informed and timely decision-making.
  10. Decision Lab Ltd presented an update on their project which seeks to use an advanced set of competitively trained reinforcement learning AI agents, AUDI, which can improve site security and resilience through remote sensing.

Image: Autonomous Devices Ltd present their aerial robotic inspection tool at the demonstration event (courtesy of DASA/NDA/gov.uk)



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