First UK robotic standards test facility is open for business

Louise Smyth

UKAEA (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.

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.