Four-legged robot will tread into Fukushima power plant for research, albeit slowly
It's been over a year and a half since the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami, and to this day, humans can't enter the heavily damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant because of high levels of radiation. But robots can.
Toshiba’s robot is a camera-equipped quadruped robot that is currently conducting research and the Fukushima plant. That sounds simple enough, but the 143-pound (65kg) robot can perform most of the research needed at the wrecked power station.
The bot uses wireless control so you don’t need to be near the robot to drive it, and the dosimeter or camera can locate uneven terrain. The camera, of course, also means that you can spot anything else interesting going on, too.
Found something and what to bring it back for further analysis? This robot can carry up to roughly 44 pounds (20kg). Plus, for hard-to-reach spots it can’t get to, it can deploy a “small vehicle” on wheels to go in for a closer look: This Mini Me features the same camera and control mechanism as the main robot.
However, the four-legged bot can only shift at 1 kilometer per hour (that's only about .62 miles per hour), so saying it's slow would be the understatement of the year. Not only that, but it can only walk for around two hours before it complains that its feet are tired and needs a break (or runs out of battery, anyway).
Still, if it means we can find out more about what happened at the Fukushima plant, what will become of it in the future, and what will happen to its immediate surroundings, a robotic helping hand is always welcome.