Monday, April 18, 2011

Robots deployed in Japanese Reactor

A few weeks back at the Innorobo Trade Show in Lyon, France, Colin Angle, the CEO of iRobot, reported that they had sent two robots, similar to but larger than the normal Packbots, to the nuclear reactor in Fukushima. At the time it was hoped that the bots would be used to drag cooling hoses near to the core. But as we all know now the core has melted down. However, the New York Times reports today that the iRobot systems have been used to collect data on radiation levels.
Workers have not gone inside the two reactor buildings since the first days after the plant's cooling systems were wrecked by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Hydrogen explosions in both buildings in the first few days destroyed their roofs and littered them with radioactive debris.

But a pair of robots, called Packbots, haltingly entered the two buildings Sunday and took readings for temperature, pressure and radioactivity. More data must be collected and radioactivity must be further reduced before workers are allowed inside, said Hidehiko Nishiyama of Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.

The full article titled, Robot in Japanese Reactors Detects High Radiation, is available here.