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Japanese Robots Deployed on Standby Mode at Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant

The Fukushima nuclear power station’s number 1 plant has seen the entry of robots made in the US for taking temperature and radiation readings along with visual images via remote control.

Now it is the turn of the Japanese robots, which have been developed for data collection and heavy lifting at the irradiated reactor buildings of the nuclear plant. At the behest of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, a robot builder based in Munakata in Fukuoka Prefecture, Tmsuk, has kept its T-53 Enryu, a rescue robot at the Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture some 170 kms away from the Fukushima plant on standby mode.

Japanese Robots

The rescue dragon, Enryu was created after the Hanshin Earthquake hit the Kobe area in the year 1995, mainly for engaging in rescue work. The robot has two arms that could lift objects weighing up to 100 kg on remote control. The robot has been trained at the Kitakyushu municipal fire department located in the Fukuoka Prefecture. According to Yoichi Takamoto, the President of Tmsuk, they were not very certain as to what role Enryu would play at a nuclear power installation but were ready to offer their services. He mentioned that maybe it would be used for removing the rubble that had collected from the explosions, blocking humans from entering the plant.

A Tohoku University Professor whose specialty is robots utilized in disaster operations, Satoshi Tadokoro, has stated that even though there were no robots used in the military in Japan they had technology, which was equivalent to that of the US. He also mentioned that a plan to use one his highly mobile research robots at the power plant was also being considered.

The Robotics Society of Japan in early April along with other organizations formed a task force consisting of engineers and sent them to the project team of the government, which is offering advice to the Tokyo Electric Power about how robots could be used at the plant. But as the circumstances and the mission were urgent US built PackBots from iRobot entered the buildings for checking the radiation levels and other important data.

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