First UK robotic standards test facility is open for business U

KAEA (the UK Atomic Energy Authority), in collaboration

with the United States NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology), has opened Britain’s first facility for testing the performance of remote-operated and robotic systems against international standards. The test facility is based in the

new RACE (Remote Applications in Challenging Environments) robotics centre at Culham Science Centre near Oxford. Test tracks are now operational for aerial and tracked vehicles. Soon to come will be facilities for articulated arm and through the wall manipulator configurations. Such test facilities are in limited

supply around the world; the RACE test facility will complement those facilities currently operational at NIST in the USA and planned in Japan and South Korea.

Just as a new aircraft has to be

fully tested and certified before it takes to the sky, this comprehensive suite of standard test methods enables independent evaluation of robotic devices’ capabilities with quantifiable results. Standards have been developed to measure remote systems’ mobility, sensors, energy consumption, communications, dexterity, durability, reliability, logistics, safety, autonomy, and operator proficiency.

OPERATIONAL NEEDS These methods will help robotics developers identify their operational needs, understand emerging remote system capabilities, guide purchasing and deployment decisions and provide focussed training for operators. In addition to using the test facility, robotics developers can

take advantage of the full range of RACE’s capabilities to advance their R&D. These include state-of-the- art remote delivery systems, tooling and manipulation design, advanced simulation capability and support from RACE’s large team of experienced engineers.

BENCHMARKING SYSTEM UKAEA head of business development, Martin Townsend, explains: “This test facility is unique to Europe in providing robotic developers with an internationally- recognised benchmarking system. We can offer flexible and low-cost performance testing and rapid feedback, helping to reduce product development cycle times.” The robotics test facility at RACE

was launched at the RAS in Challenging Environments Expo16, held at Culham on 28 September, where NIST officials conducted


demonstrations using unmanned aerial and ground vehicles. Adam Jacoff, of NIST’s Intelligent

Systems Division, adds: “We look forward to more collaborations with the UKAEA RACE facility and with other commercial and academic organisations who expressed interest at the Expo in getting involved with our standards development effort.”

RACE (Remote Applications in Challenging Environments)


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