i3D robotics

Targeted technology development for nuclear industry challenge

FIS360 is helping i3D robotics to engage with the nuclear industry, supporting them to develop a technology for identifying unknown objects in gloveboxes.

The client

i3D robotics are experts in the development of 3D vision technology for application in sectors ranging from space to agriculture to nuclear. With both off-the-shelf products and bespoke stereo imaging solutions, i3D robotics specialises in developing flexible 3D vision systems for autonomous and robotic platforms, as well as products suited for high-temperature and hazardous industrial environments.

In 2018, i3D robotics applied to Game Changers, a nuclear innovation programme supporting the development and commercialisation of new technologies. FIS360 is a key delivery partner of the Game Changers programme, and our innovation consultants guide successful applicants through all stages of the innovation process. i3D robotics recognised an opportunity for their stereo imaging technology to be applied to a specific industry challenge for identifying unknown hazards in gloveboxes. FIS360 has supported them through successful feasibility and proof-of-concept projects, and positive live demonstrations of their technology to potential end-users.

Industry engagement

Driving innovation in a new sector requires significant early engagement with industry stakeholders, to help innovators fully understand the specific challenges faced, and the detailed requirements for practical solutions.  This engagement also serves to introduce stakeholders to innovators from different sectors, with products and ideas not previously considered.  Facilitating this early and ongoing engagement is a key role for FIS360 as part of the Game Changers programme. 

i3D robotics was successful in securing Game Changers feasibility funding, and our innovation consultants helped them to meet with glovebox operators at Sellafield’s nuclear decommissioning site, to ensure the technology they were developing was a good fit to the needs of the end-user.  Our engagement also brought the operators directly into the process of shaping and developing the technology at an early stage, gaining their support for a product that would work for them. 

By helping i3D robotics gain a detailed understanding of the technology requirements for this challenge, we enabled them to develop their design for a 3D vision system that can operate in a constrained environment, with low lighting levels, and in conditions where radiation tolerance may be required.  As a result, i3D robotics was granted Game Changers proof-of-concept funding to further develop their technology.

Technology development

With a good understanding of the industry challenge, i3D robotics has adapted their 3D stereo vision cameras to ensure they are suited to the glovebox environment. The system may also be interfaced with robotics, a major requirement for next generation “no-hands-in” gloveboxes.  Using the latest machine learning algorithms, the technology can successfully detect and identify a wide range of typical glovebox contents. This allows the system to not only produce a 3D map of the glovebox, but also addresses a major challenge of alerting glovebox operators to the presence of sharp objects or other potential hazards in real-time. 

i3D robotics has successfully demonstrated their 3D vision and hazards identification system and is continuing to work with Sellafield on building a library of typical objects the system would need to identify in the nuclear glovebox and decommissioning environments.

Ongoing support

FIS360’s support for successful Game Changers applicants like i3D robotics does not end when they secure proof-of-concept funding. We are continuing to guide i3D robotics in their engagement with Sellafield, helping them to develop plans for a potential active deployment trial.  We are also working with them on engaging with potential customers and partners in academia and other industry sectors.

We have secured a highly sought-after spot for i3D robotics in the Innovation Zone at the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s annual conference, providing them with a valuable opportunity to present their technology and discuss other applications of their robotics expertise with a wide range of nuclear industry stakeholders.

We have recently supported i3D robotics to become part of the Game Changers Fellowship Programme, which will provide a unique training opportunity to widen their commercial horizons, identify new markets and prepare their business for further growth.