20 Février 2012
New robots on their way to Fukushima nuclear plant
Two Japanese-made robots will be used to examine the inside of reactors at the damaged nuclear power plant in Fukushima.
A group of researchers at Chiba Institute of Technology developed the remote-controlled robots named Quince Number 2 and Number 3.
On Monday, a truck carrying the pair left for Fukushima from the school's campus in Narashino, Chiba Prefecture.
Quince Number 1 was put to work at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in June last year. It was the only Japanese-made robot involved in the operation at the plant after the March 11th disaster. It took video footage of reactor buildings and checked radiation levels, but stopped operating in October after becoming tangled in cables.
The 2 new robots have been remodeled to deal with cables. They are equipped with blades to cut away the cables left behind by the first robot, allowing them to move smoothly in the area. One of the robots has a camera fixed at a higher position that will let it record the inside of a storage pool for spent fuel.
Deputy Director Eiji Koyanagi of the Future Robotics Technology Center at the Chiba Institute of Technology said he expects the robots to take precise readings of radiation levels inside the plant. He said the dismantling of the reactors requires work by people, and he hopes the robots will help pinpoint spots where workers can operate with less exposure to radiation.
The new robots are scheduled to begin their work before the end of the month.