Variety of markets

DCE operates across a series of different markets, reflecting the diverse applications for its innovative technology. Potential applications/markets for DCE’s technology are limitless

Some of the areas using DCE’s know-how:

  • Agriculture academia and agronomy businesses
  • Defencegovernment defence agencies, laboratories, prime contractors and industry partners
  • Health academia, national/private health services and equipment manufacturers
  • Nuclear nuclear agencies and industry associates

Defence

In today’s changing nature of warfare, technology and innovation play crucial roles in determining tactics

Advances in robotic technology have given military forces the capability to do dangerous and difficult combat tasks remotely, keeping human soldiers out of harm’s way.

Military robots come in different shapes and sizes depending on the requirement and they may be remotely controlled or fully autonomous. Robots can handle different types of payloads depending on the application. Sensors, detectors, cameras, weapons and programmed software can be fitted to robotic platforms. DCE’s Marionette plays a critical role in these operations.

DCE’s Marionette™ Universal Control System technology can be retrofitted into existing military vehicles and platforms or the DCE engineering team can design purpose-built unmanned ground vehicles/remotely operated vehicles to fulfil customers’ specific requirements. Click on the case study below to find out how DCE converted a 30-tonne FV510 Warrior armoured fighting vehicle into a remotely operated vehicle.

Defence and peacekeeping forces around the world are using military robots for these roles:

  • battlefield intelligence
  • combat support
  • debris removal
  • disaster relief
  • explosive ordnance disposal and mine clearance
  • fire fighting
  • intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance
  • search and rescue
  • target information
  • terrain and hazard mapping

Nuclear

In nuclear facilities, robots can perform in areas where the hostile thermal or radiation environment would not be safe for a human

As the twentieth century’s nuclear power plants come to the end of their useful lives and a decommissioning programme is underway, remote controlled and fully autonomous robots have a mission-critical role to play.

The key rationale in the use of robotics is to avoid human exposure to hazardous environments and tasks. These range from scrutiny and general upkeep to decontamination and post accidental activities. In a nuclear facility, robots with the ability to climb stairs and swim through cooling pipes are invaluable, accessing all areas of the plant to undertake a wide range of tasks, including:

  • communications relay
  • data gathering and sampling
  • debris removal
  • inspection and surveillance
  • load transportation
  • maintenance and repairs
  • radiation detecting and mapping
  • surface decontamination and cleaning

A variant of DCE’s X2 is currently being used as part of an Innovate UK/Nuclear Decommissioning Authority sponsored project looking at new technology for nuclear decommissioning. This model has been modified to remove contamination traps etc and manufactured in stainless for better unmanned ground vehicle decontamination Click on the case study below to find out more.

Health

Robotic technologies in healthcare relieve medical
personnel from routine tasks that take their time
away from more pressing responsibilities

These innovative technologies can also medical procedures safer, more efficient and less expensive.

Innovative robotic, autonomous and sensor technologies appear in a wide range of applications that directly affect patient care, including:

  • cleaning and disinfection
  • delivery of medication, meals and equipment
  • laboratory analysis and storage
  • patient transportation
  • personal care
  • physiotherapy
  • surgery
  • training

Autonomous systems can reduce the risk of transmitting highly infectious diseases by lessening unnecessary human contact. DCE has applied its robotics and sensors expertise to turn a standard hospital bed a self-driving unit. This can be used to transport patients around hospitals, with just one socially distanced member of staff nearby. Read more about this in the case study below.

Agriculture

Farmers to turn to robotics as a solution
to feed the growing population

The world’s population is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050. To feed this population, agricultural production will need to double its current output. This has caused farmers to turn to robotics as a solution for the coming future.

Robotics can increase crop yields by carrying out these tasks:

  • crop health monitoring/data collection
  • efficient use of fertilisers and sprays
  • greenhouse management
  • planting and harvesting
  • targeted weed suppression

DCE’s X2 was used in the IBEX2 project as an autonomous weed spraying robot designed for operation on hill farms and moorland where the challenging terrain makes it too dangerous – or impossible – to operate conventional machinery, such as tractors. Also, better access increases available agricultural land.

Environmental wins by using the X2 are achieved by avoiding the use of expensive and ecologically damaging bulk spraying by helicopter or manual weed spraying, plus the much lower soil compaction due to the vehicle’s light weight.

And don’t forget that they are emissions-free (environmental aspect).

We did also look at automating functions on a farm such as mucking out of sheds which currently has to be done by a person.

To find out more click on the case study link below.

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