ARES Security Corporation Awarded $200K DOE SBIR Phase 1 Grant to Investigate the Use of Robotic Technology for Security Applications at Advanced and Small Nuclear Reactors (A/SNRS)
May 24, 2022
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ARES Security Corporation (ARES) is innovating nuclear power plant security and operations through the use of robotic technology to safely and cost-effectively support/replace humans to perform physical security, operational, and maintenance tasks at existing and planned Advanced and Small Nuclear Reactors (A/SNRs). To support these efforts, ARES is pleased to announce winning a Department of Energy (DOE) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase 1 Grant in the amount of $200K.

Advanced and Small Nuclear Reactors are well-positioned to fulfill the need for substantial local power, especially for areas with no or limited grid access and challenges with fuel transportation. For A/SNR applications to be economically viable, they must be safe and cost-effective to compete with other energy generation sources. This project will focus on the physical security challenges of the A/SNR size, design, physical layout, operations, and the potential for being sited in isolated locations with potentially limited staff compared to large nuclear power or other large-scale electricity producers. For existing light-water reactor (LWR) nuclear plants, physical security is one of the dominant operating expenses. For A/SNRs to be cost-effective, they must leverage technology and reduce onsite personnel to a minimum. For the first A/SNRs deployed, onsite physical security staff may be required but this research could reduce, or potentially eliminate, full-time in site staff requirements.

This project will:

  • Identify the challenges of A/SNR physical security and automation requirements

  • Define and quantitatively evaluate security systems and protective strategies using robotic systems

  • Conduct a cost analysis for the use of robotic technology to perform/support physical security tasks

  • Demonstrate the feasibility of having robots perform physical security tasks that traditionally have been performed by humans

For this project, ARES has partnered with X-energy, Xcel Energy (Xcel), Idaho National Laboratory (INL), and Ghost Robotics. The ARES AVERT Physical Security (AVERT-PS) software will be used to analyze A/SNR security posture and the AVERT Mission Planning & Operations (AVERT-MPO) software will be used as the demonstration software system controlling and automating the robots. The Ghost Robotics Q-UGV robotic system will be the robotics system leveraged and demonstrated for this project.