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Japan Robotics Power

Japanese Robots Await Call To Action 50

Posted by Soulskill
from the waiting-for-an-outbreak-of-destroy-all-humans dept.
Kyusaku Natsume writes with this excerpt from a Kyodo News report on the robots Japan has available on standby to work at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi plant: "Japanese robots designed for heavy lifting and data collection have been prepared for deployment at irradiated reactor buildings of the Fukushima No.1 nuclear power station, where US-made robots have already taken radiation and temperature readings as well as visual images at the crippled facility via remote control. ... Enryu (rescue dragon) was developed in the aftermath of the magnitude-7.3 Great Hanshin Earthquake that hit the Kobe area in 1995. Designed to engage in rescue work, the remote-controlled robot has two arms that can lift objects up to 100 kg. It has 'undergone training' at the Kitakyushu municipal fire department in Fukuoka Prefecture."
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Japanese Robots Await Call To Action

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  • Why don't they wait another six months or so? What's the rush?
  • Seriously. Does anyone know? I was really surprised that much of the work the plant workers (police, firemen, and military) were doing was not replaced by robots after a few days -- while there were technical jobs that surely called for specialized workers onsite, holding a hose to spray water or flying over the site, seem like tasks where humans need not have been exposed and robots/drones could help. Also any stories of robots being deployed for search and rescue?
    • by FooAtWFU (699187) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @12:40AM (#35918996) Homepage
      TFA discusses that they're not sure how well it will operate in an environment with radiation present (it does no good if it stops working in the middle of the plant because the electronics got zapped). It sounds like they haven't figured out all the logistics about keeping it from spreading radioactive materials around, either. (Presumably it needs to come out of the plant at some point, if only for refueling/maintenance).
      • by Kyusaku Natsume (1098) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @08:35AM (#35920334)

        For example, they could find the same troubles than the guys at Sandia labs trying to fix a stuck source of radiation with a M2 robot:
        http://www.physorg.com/news9093.html [physorg.com]

        Having random plastic parts of your robot melting because they are not good to use inside a gamma ray oven is really bad. That electronics need radiation shielding is a know problem, but the performance of the rest of the pieces of equipment is something that they would know until they test it in the field or in a radiation test chamber.

    • by Qzukk (229616)

      Robots die from radiation faster than humans do.

    • by rmstar (114746)

      The reason it took so long was that they weren't prepared. All the things they had to think through to use a robot in these circumstances - nobody had thought about it! All the logistics, all the money, permits, etc. weren't even halfway ready. Amazing, isn't it? That's how an industry in the hands of the Titanic syndrome looks like.

      There isn't any research in how to react to such an "eventuality", because the industry doesn't want to know. It is just not supposed to happen.

      • Why would they prepare? As long as everything runs smoothly, they rake in the cash. As soon as anything goes wrong, well, there's always the taxpayer. And why would they risk losing a costly robot when you can throw away human lives?
      • by khallow (566160) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @09:01AM (#35920444)

        Amazing, isn't it?

        Only to someone who doesn't have a clue what's going on. Every time we get one of these superficial stories that talks about some minor goof up in the Fukushima recovery/clean up, we get drama from the armchair engineers who remain eager to second guess things. My suspicion is that these guys have been showered with offers of robotic support from all over the world. They'll just have to test this stuff and see what works and what doesn't.

        The thing is, the accident is over. Perhaps it will amount to something significant, but that hasn't happened yet. What they're doing now is radioactivity containment and repair of the systems for cooling the cores.

        There isn't any research in how to react to such an "eventuality", because the industry doesn't want to know. It is just not supposed to happen.

        This is the research. Learn by doing. People seem to ignore that there has been perhaps three other accidents comparable to Fukushima in the history of civilian power generation (as opposed to experimental reactors and military power). None of those accidents have much in common with Fukushima (all three were heavy on human operator error and light on magnitude 9 earthquakes).

        And when you have accidents that rare, what do you do? Make your own accidents? That's what they did with Chernobyl, after all.

        That's how an industry in the hands of the Titanic syndrome looks like.

        And clueless person bases their perception of "an industry" on a crap movie? Say it ain't so!

        • by rmstar (114746)

          The thing is, the accident is over. Perhaps it will amount to something significant, but that hasn't happened yet.

          Please confirm: you are saying nothing happened?

          This is the research. Learn by doing. People seem to ignore that there has been perhaps three other accidents comparable to Fukushima in the history of civilian power generation (as opposed to experimental reactors and military power). None of those accidents have much in common with Fukushima (all three were heavy on human operator error and light

          • by Stellian (673475)

            you are saying nothing happened?

            I'd say that's fairly accurate - nothing compared to the hype and panic at least. No one died from radiation sickness. There was a single worker who died after being hit by a crane, but that's an industrial accident and it's not correlated with the nuclear nature of the plant; if you hit a gas-powered plant, hydroelectric dam or huge wind farm with a 9.0 earthquake + tsunami and you can also expect casualties. As it turns out, it was much safer to be inside the nuclear plant than on the beach when the tsuna

          • by khallow (566160)

            Please confirm: you are saying nothing happened?

            I said nothing significant happened.Obviously, that is an opinion, but Stellian, who also replied to your article, lays out the argument [slashdot.org]. The accident hasn't caused a significant number of casualties, the radioactive contamination hasn't been released in a particularly dangerous form or dispersed very far. And at worst, it's an INES 6 event, which hasn't killed anyone through radioactive poisoning, masquerading politically as an INES 7 event.

            • by rmstar (114746)

              Please confirm: you are saying nothing happened?

              I said nothing significant happened.Obviously, that is an opinion

              A formidable one, in my view. What would have to happen before you consider it significant? Tokyo deserted? Or can it be a little less?

              What you and stellian do is handpick the best spin you can find and even downplay that. It is actually amazing to watch, but does not really improve any confidence in the technology.

        • And when you have accidents that rare, what do you do? Make your own accidents? That's what they did with Chernobyl, after all.

          They made an accident? I think we can lay the blame for Chernobyl at the feet of the USA. As well as ABSOLUTELY ALL of the world's problems.

  • ... Japan is enlisting US-made robots to help
  • ... that a nation that has robot toilets would take this long to think of using robots for this job. Although to be fair, it never crossed my mind either, and I've spent the last 5 years trying to convince my wife that a roomba is actually a good idea.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Actually, there are huge remote controlled grapples and trucks on site and they have been there for weeks already, carting away debris. The problem is that they don't look like robots. They look just like grapples and trucks carting away debris...

    • Cue instant feeling of terror having a truck driving towards you and you suddenly notice the driver's seat is empty.
  • Let's hope the robot is hardened against ionizing radiation. Otherwise instead of "Hasta la vista, baby" it's more like "Dave, my mind is going..."

  • They're not robots, but remote controlled machines.
  • It is indicative of the gravity of the situation that the Japanese have not accepted any of the offers of radiation hardened robots designed for nuclear incidents such as this.
    The most logical explanation is that the situation is known to be impossible, so why accept foreign robots and the obligations that go with them just to be further embarrassed.
    No work can be done in the facility until the radioactive lake in the plant, currently about 1300x80x20 ft is drained, which will not be until year end at best.

  • just in case......

  • Obviously, the robots want to set up their base of operations in a place humans fear to tread.

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