Drives and Controls Magazine
Remote handling centre opens for business
Published:  16 September, 2014

A new UK centre of excellence set up to conduct r&d into remote-handling applications and to offer access to equipment and expertise, has won its first contract. The Race (remote applications in challenging environments) centre is being created at the Culham Science Centre in Oxfordshire by the UK Atomic Energy Authority and several partners, with £7.8m of backing from the UK Government.

Projects are already underway in an existing laboratory, but planning permission has been submitted for a purpose-built 3,000m2 facility to house the centre.

Race will help end-users and their supply chains to develop technologies for operating in hazardous environments such as are found in the construction, nuclear, sub-sea, space, and oil and gas industries.

Race’s first major contract is with a consortium developing remote-handling technology for the Iter fusion experiment in France. Under a five-year, multi-million-euro contract, it will design, manufacture and commission a robotic system to maintain an exhaust system that ejects waste from the reactor.

Race’s planned facilities will be used to develop remote-conrtrolled robotic handling equipment

“Race will offer its customers the technical support to use the world’s best robotics to solve problems in their challenging environments,” says the facility’s director, Dr Rob Buckingham. “There is no better place for it than Culham, with its tremendous expertise in remote handling.”

Race is part of a broader programme of remote-handling activities offering expertise in remote interventions and autonomous systems to a wider commercial sector. The aim is for high-tech engineering companies to gain the expertise to enter the global market for automated and remote working in harsh and challenging environments.