Robots Clean Up the Fukushima Reactor
Kyle Maxey posted on December 12, 2012 |

Some jobs are better left to robots. Take, for example, cleaning up a catastrophic failure at a nuclear power plant.

On March 11, 2011 Japan experienced one of the five most powerful earthquakes ever recorded. Of the numerous places that were destroyed by the earthquake and subsequent tsunami, none was more infamous than the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. While a number of factors contributed to what would ultimately become the worst nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl meltdown in 1986; the utter destruction of an entire region was the final result.  

Cleanup of the reactor site, and of the vast effected areas will likely take decades, but now robots are ensuring that further casualties can be avoided in the cleanup process.

In a joint effort between Hitachi Engineering & Services and Hitachi Construction Machinery a robot is being created which will be able to safely remove rubble from the destroyed Fukushima Daiichi plant. Dubbed the ASTACO-SoRA, this 2.5 ton robot will be capable of lifting 150kg in each of its 2.5 meter

Wirelessly operated from a control panel, the ASTACO-SoRA will be small enough to maneuver through small areas (98cm), and multi-talented enough to change the tools at the end of its two arms without having to leave the worksite.

The creation of this robot signals the beginning of the long process of removing and destroying the radioactive materials left over from the disaster. Without machines like this, nuclear fallout would likely have to remain in place while slowly decaying over time.

While greater safety measures need to be developed to prevent disasters similar to the Fukushima Daiichi Meltdown, it’s reassuring to know that whenever challenges arise engineers are on the case, creating solutions to truly difficult problems.

Watch Video of the ASTACO-SoRA below:

ASTACO-SoRa Attaching a Tool to it's Arm:

ASTACO-SoRa Manipulating Objects

Images and Video Courtesy of Hitachi & Moriyama Kazumichi

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