Issue 55 Uncrewed Systems Technology Apr/May 2024 Sellafield’s UAV equipment l Applied EV Blanc Robot l Battery tech l Robotican’s Goshawk l UGVs l UAVHE RW1 rotary l Roboat UVD l Autopilots l Arkeocean UVD l UMEX 2024 l CycloTech UVD

20 Uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) have become essential inspection tools at Sellafield, the large nuclear facility on the coast of Cumbria, northwest England. It treats and stores nuclear waste, and it also carries out decommissioning work on its fleet of reactors, which were previously used for grid power generation and research. Amanda Smith, 43, the engineer who leads the UAV equipment programme at Sellafield, gained her engineering education at the site and brought its capabilities up to a level that was recognised by a Nuclear Manufacturing Award for innovation, which she shared with her team in November 2023. Smith’s UAV team is part of the Remote Technologies Group (RTG). She reports to the group’s leader, and four equipment engineers/UAV pilots report to her. “They live and breathe drones, as they need to know everything from how to fly and maintain them to how to assess new systems coming through. And then, at any one time, I can have one or two graduates from the Sellafield scheme on secondment,” she says. “They learn a lot from us, and we get a lot of work from them to support my team.” The Sellafield site has many old buildings, complex pipework, tanks, hard-to-access roof spaces, waste cooling ponds and areas that pose various levels of radiation hazard, all of which must be inspected somehow. The RTG’s remit is to keep people out of harm’s way through the application of advanced inspection technologies. In addition to the UAVs, the group operates robotic arms and a variety of uncrewed The RTG engineer leading Sellafield’s UAV equipment programme explains its innovative work to Peter Donaldson April/May 2024 | Uncrewed Systems Technology UAVs are used to inspect areas of the Sellafield site that are inaccessible to other methods and they are set to improve on that capability when BVLOS permissions are in place (All images courtesy of Sellafield) Nuclear de-risk