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Innovation workshop on Artificial Intelligence and data science in nuclear

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) recently spoke at a workshop about the application of data science and artificial intelligence (AI) in the nuclear industry.

The event at Bristol University aimed to help consider the benefits of developing AI technologies for the nuclear industry and ensure that digital technologies can be adopted into practice.

Digital technologies, including AI, have a role to play in the UK's nuclear industry and the workshop provided the environment for experts to meet, learn and collaborate to find innovative solutions to potential problems.

David Smeatham, Innovation Lead at ONR, was joined by a range of other experts at the event, hosted by the Bristol-EDF Synergistic utilisation of Informatics and Data centric Integrity engineering (SINDRI) Partnership and the Southwest Nuclear Hub.

The workshop was also attended by licensees, requesting parties, technical support contractors, and academics, who helped form an industry-wide view about the benefits and challenges of AI technologies.

(David Smeatham speaking at the workshop)

AI could be used in the nuclear industry to simulate behaviour of reactors, and inform reactor design, performance, safety and operation.

The workshop also examined how the nuclear industry could use data science to gather and store information to support future safety cases.

David said: “ONR is committed to enabling innovation where it is in the interests of nuclear safety and security so having a clear regulatory approach is important.

“Our work on innovation aims to demonstrate that effective regulation does not mean blocking innovation.

“Rather, ONR recognises that there is a need for regulators, licensees and supply chain organisations to be open minded to the opportunities from innovative approaches.

“A significant part of this is to build on existing work to develop ONR’s innovation capability. By doing so, ONR can ensure open-mindedness to new approaches.”

ONR jointly hosted an expert panel last March with the Advanced Nuclear Skills and Innovation Campus (ANSIC), who are based at National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) about the regulation of AI in nuclear. The Bristol workshop was an opportunity to share more about ONR’s commitment to enabling innovation and how AI can play a role in improving nuclear safety and security.

David’s session covered ONR’s Innovation Hub and the regulation of AI in the nuclear sector, drawing on the expert panel ONR jointly hosted in March.

Read more about ONR’s work in innovation