Toshiba’s Scorpion Robot to Lend a Tail at Fukushima

Toshiba Scorpion Robot

AP Photos/ Shizuo Kambayashi

I admit it. I’ve spent the last 30 minutes trying to figure out how to get a “Rock You Like a Hurricane” reference into the title of the post. As you can see I have failed. Regardless, it’s still worth writing about today’s AP report regarding the ongoing clean up efforts at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, and how Toshiba’s bio-inspired “scorpion” robot will aid in what is predict to be a decades-long decommissioning process.

The robot is set to go into action in August, when it will be sent into Unit 2 reactor’s primary containment vessel to hopefully view the fuel still contained within. To this day, this fuel has not been examined due to the superhero-creating (or more realistically, death-dealing) radiation in the reactor.

At only 21 inches long, the robot’s size and shape make it ideal to enter the reactor through passageways meant for fuel rods. Under the remote control of an operator housed a safe distance away, the scorpion bot will illuminate its surroundings with head-mounted LEDs and feed video and other critical data out to the engineers and clean up crew.

Three of Fukushima’s six nuclear reactors suffered meltdowns in March of 2011 as the result of a monster tsunami striking Japan. During past nuclear crises (I just learned the plural of crisis), humans had to put themselves in harms way, often making the ultimate sacrifice, to investigate critically radioactive areas. Help from our mechanical brothers doesn’t make the Fukushima clusterfuck any less serious, but it is heartening to see just one role they will play in the future protecting the health and safety of us humans.

Read the whole story at The New York Times.

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