Aligning research with industry need

FIS360 is helping a leading group of the UK’s robotics and artificial intelligence researchers to inform and align research with industry need.

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The client

RAIN (Robotics and Artificial Intelligence in Nuclear) is a hub composed of robotics and nuclear engineering experts led by the University of Manchester, with partners across the UK1. Funded by the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, RAIN is developing advanced robotics and artificial intelligence solutions for the nuclear industry, with research focused on remote inspection, remote handling, and safety and verifiability. 

Through our sister company, Innovation 2 Commercialisation (I2C) Ltd, the FIS360 team were asked by RAIN’s lead academics to develop and deliver a programme of activities that would support the RAIN hub members to strengthen their links with industry and develop innovative robotics and AI solutions that are fully aligned with industry need.

Transferring research to industry

At FIS360, we have a strong background in taking innovative research ideas through to viable commercial propositions. We can deliver a tailored approach based on our understanding of the technology offering and the relevant markets.  

To ensure alignment between research outputs and industry needs, we facilitated strategic discussions between RAIN experts and key stakeholders from across the UK’s nuclear industry landscape, to increase industry understanding of the potential for robotics & AI application in harsh and extreme environments, while enabling RAIN to develop their technologies with a greater awareness of the challenging requirements of the nuclear sector. 

Supported by our activities, RAIN is currently involved in a number of collaborations, technology demonstrations and active deployment trials. Active discussions on potential projects are ongoing with site license companies including DSRL (Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd), Magnox, and EDF and with Tier 2 suppliers Wood, JFN, Cavendish Nuclear, Babcock, and Nuvia. 

Successful outcomes

By supporting RAIN’s engagement with DSRL, our FIS360 experts played a pivotal role in the successful active deployment trial of the University of Manchester’s Lyra robotic platform at DSRL’s nuclear reactor research facility in March 2020.  As a result of effective engagement and communications, DSRL had enough confidence in the Lyra platform to proceed with on-site trials in a low activity environment, instead of limiting trials to mock-up conditions as would be common practice.

RAIN is now developing additional sensors for the Lyra platform, and is in discussion with DSRL regarding further active deployment. A further potential active deployment with DSRL and RAIN partner, the University of Nottingham, is also in development.

We are also currently supporting RAIN partner Oxford University as they work with Ross Robotics on a feasibility project for reconfigurable, multi-sensor 3D navigation technology for rugged all terrain mobility.

Ongoing support

Our FIS360 commercialisation experts are continuing to provide RAIN and its members with support and advice on industry engagement. We are advising RAIN on effective mechanisms for collaboration, demonstrations, and trials, as well as appropriate commercialisation strategies that will contribute to the successful development and commercialisation of their robotics and AI technologies, in the nuclear and other relevant industries. 

“Developing strong working relationships with our clients and engaging effectively with key technology end users helps us to bridge the gap between academia, the supply chain and the target market, and plays a key part in successful outcomes for our clients, such as the recent active deployment trial of RAIN technology at Dounreay.” Dr Stuart Brown, FIS360 Innovation Consultant

1RAIN Hub members are The University of Manchester, The University of Lancaster, The University of Oxford, The University of Liverpool, The University of Sheffield, The University of Bristol, The University of Nottingham, The University of Leeds, Newcastle University, The University of Reading, and RACE (Remote Applications in Challenging Environments, part of the UK Atomic Energy Authority).