National Nuclear Laboratory

Edward MacNeil

  • The University of Manchester –  Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences (EPS), School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering (MACE)
  • Academic Supervisors: Andrew Weightman, William Heath
  • Industrial Supervisor: Colin Fairbairn
  • Project timeline: Oct 2018 – Oct 2021
  • Research areas of interest: Soft Robotics, Growing Robots, Electronic Control Systems
  • Academic Qualifications: Master of Mechanical Engineering – The University of Manchester, Affiliate IMechE
  • University profile, LinkedIn page

Soft Robotics for Nuclear Decommissioning

I’m Edward and I’m researching soft robotics for use in Nuclear Decommissioning. I studied an integrated masters at Manchester, which is where my interest in both the field of Nuclear engineering and robotics first took hold. Soft robots are robots created with compliant materials that don’t behave with the characteristics that define traditional robotics. Namely, they are often plastic structures that deform upon contact, complying with an environment rather than damaging it. This allows them to be more adaptable and more versatile. I’ve got the wonderful opportunity to study soft robotics, a field which is still establishing its boundaries, within hazardous environments that are often difficult for traditional robotics to navigate. This has led to a wonderfully open research field for myself, and plenty of novel and interesting applications for the nuclear industry following on. In particular, I’m going to be focusing on the development of pneumatically controlled, inflatable, growing robotics for exploration of unknown environments.