SELLAFIELD Ltd has selected Tiger robotic vehicles, built by Fareham-based Saab Seaeye to work in one of the most hazardous environments on the planet.

The announcement came after the Tiger had worked consistently in the highly-corrosive conditions for nine months, transferring waste material stored in spent fuel ponds, during which time it only needed to pause for routine maintenance.

Sellafield has now ordered four Tigers for this challenging role.

The Tiger’s durability means that there is limited need for intervention by operators for maintenance purposes, considerably reducing their exposure in this hazardous environment.

“The reliability of the vehicle is key for the health of operators,” says Phil Toomey, Technical Manager at Sellafield Ltd, “As they must wash down the Tigers during service checks and launch and recovery.”

Exposure to radiation for operators is carefully limited, and unplanned downtime will quickly exhaust their safe working period in any one year.

The nuclear-enabled version of the Tiger, called Tiger-N, gathers and sorts metre-long, 15kg radioactive fuel bars for removal to long-term storage. This work can involve removing buried radioactive material from 30cm of sludge.