SPOT a dancing robot dog, stole the show in a behind the scenes look at the lab creating technology to help maintain the future of fusion energy plants.

UK Atomic Energy Authority’s (UKAEA) first robotics open event at Culham Science Centre on Saturday June 18.

As part of the UK-wide Festival of Robotics, visitors were treated to a behind-the-scenes look inside UKAEA’s RACE (Remote Applications in Challenging Environments) where cutting-edge technology is being developed to help design and maintain future fusion energy plants.  

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Fusion research aims to copy the process which powers the sun for a new large-scale source of low carbon energy here on earth.

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It is described as the ultimate energy source and promises to provide environmentally responsible and safe, low carbon power for generations to come using small amounts of fuel that can be sourced from abundant and sustainable materials. 

Spot the robot will help with the research. The agile mobile robot can navigate terrain with unprecedented mobility, allowing scientists to make routine inspections and collect data safely.

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Nick Sykes, head of operations for RACE at UKAEA, said: “The UK is leading the way in fusion energy which we believe will be an environmentally responsible part of the world’s energy supply in the second half of this century. Robotics’ will play a key role in maintaining fusion powerplants. 

“It has been fantastic to showcase the very cool robotics work taking place here at UKAEA and we hope to have inspired the next generation of robotics engineers.” 

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Visitors were able to see the use of artificial intelligence in fusion machines, the latest technology in robot handling, and test their own skills as the next generation of robot operators. 

Dave Baker who travelled to Culham from Winchester for the festival, said: “The technology being shown at UKAEA is leading edge. It shows how far in front we are. It was absolutely fascinating, and interesting to see all the practical applications for the robots.” 

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Annie Turner, from Chinnor, added: “I didn’t know what to expect or what it would be like. It was really interesting, and I learned loads. The technology was inspirational, especially for children looking at future careers in engineering.” 

Technology developed at UKAEA’s Culham campus will also be useful for other challenging environments such as space, mining, and nuclear decommissioning.  

The UK Festival of Robotics is an annual celebration hosted by the EPSRC UK Robotics and Autonomous Systems (UK-RAS) Network, which provides academic leadership in robotics and coordinates activities at over 30 partner universities across the UK.  

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This story was written by Rebecca Whittaker, she joined the team in 2019 as a multimedia reporter.

Rebecca covers education and news in Abingdon and Wantage.

Get in touch with her by emailing: or calling 07824524333

Follow her on Twitter @RebecWhitt

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