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Robots Used in Important Rescue Operations Post Nuclear Disaster in Japan

Japan had established itself in the industrial and medical robotics field way back in 1999 with the AIBO dog and Paro robot, which served as industrial and therapeutic robots respectively.

Since its entry into this field, it has grown to become a leader in the development of robots. The latest in the list was “power assist,” a robotic suit, which helps in reducing the physical effort during the harvesting of crops for the elderly farmers of Japan.

Japan turned to robotics for dealing with the after effects of the nuclear disaster by developing the Quince Robot, which was smaller and could be easily navigated through the radiation affected areas. Team Nippon was another rescue mission, which along with Talon’s GPS mapping helped in measuring the gamma radiation. Robots from other countries like Bobcat loaders and Brokk demolition robots from Sweden are currently working to clear large chunks of nuclear rubble.

A sharp difference has been observed in the military funding between United States and Japan. Japan has always insisted that nuclear power was safe while the U.S Government has deployed more than 3,500 PackBots for bomb detection and defusing in Afghanistan. The first nuclear accident in Japan took place in the Tokaimura uranium processing plant in the year 1999. After this incident Japan has concentrated on building robots for handling nuclear accidents funded by MITI. However, these robots did not gain popularity as there were no buyers and also because Japan never expected major nuclear outbreaks in the near future. Post the nuclear disaster that shook Japan, robotic technology has gained momentum. There have been a number of rescue operations such as rescuing bodies trapped in the sea etc., where Japan has taken the help of undersea robots.

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