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Japan Robotics

Robots Compete In Navigating Simulation Of Japan's Fukushima Daiichi Plant 64

schwit1 writes: A new DARPA Robotics Challenge completed its final competition recently. 25 teams operated robots around a landscape designed to simulate the hazardous environment that aid workers found after the Fukushima Daiichi reactor in Japan melted down multiple times in 2011. Engineers tried to help, but disaster ensued, rendering a huge area around the plant uninhabitable after toxic steam was released into the skies. The radioactive leftovers are still emitting a million watts of heat. First prize is $2m, second prize is $1m, and third gets $500,000.
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Robots Compete In Navigating Simulation Of Japan's Fukushima Daiichi Plant

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Send the most worthless and despicable members of society into deal with the problem.

    Politicians, lawyers, CEOs, Priests, Psychiatrists, priests, and the like.


    • by Tetch ( 534754 )

      Send the most worthless and despicable members of society into deal with the problem

      Politicians, lawyers, CEOs, Priests, Psychiatrists, priests, and the like

      Excellent idea, no need to waste finely-engineered, highly valuable hi-tec robots - but your list forgot to include marketing morons, advertising "creatives", financial trader types, property speculators, environmental polluters, all other kinds of greedy, self-centered, planet-wrecking ignoramuses, and of course telephone sanitizers ......

  • by trout007 ( 975317 ) on Sunday June 07, 2015 @09:45AM (#49861143)

    It went from 169 MW to 1 MW in 30 months. We are about 18 months past Dec 2013 so if the reduction is about the same we have approximately 10 kW of heat.

    • by khallow ( 566160 )
      The decay curve is not exponential. A live reactor has a mix of a large variety of isotopes with a wide range of decay rates. Some isotopes have a half life of seconds or minutes and some have a half life of 4.5 billion years.

      As I understand it, most of the current day heat is from isotopes that have half lives of a few decades. So the rate of decline should have slowed down a lot.
    • A bit of perspective: my backyard gets about a megawatt of dumped onto it by the Sun (unless it's cloudy). It's not a big backyard (and no, we're not doing a sale)....

      IOW, a megawatt isn't really a big deal, people.

  • by Irate Engineer ( 2814313 ) on Sunday June 07, 2015 @09:47AM (#49861153)

    after the Fukushima Daiichi reactor in Japan melted down multiple times Fukushima Daiichi was a station that had multiple reactors (six). Reactor units 1-3 suffered individual meltdowns, and unit 4 suffered a fire due to cooling water loss in the storage pond. Units 5 and 6 were damaged but were already in cold shutdown when the tsunami occurred.

  • by jfdavis668 ( 1414919 ) on Sunday June 07, 2015 @10:17AM (#49861287)
    You know things like cleaning up nuclear power plants is the first thing we will use it for. No wonder robots rebel in science fiction movies.
  • It'd have been nice to know, I would have participated. http://www.robots-everywhere.c... [] We recently did Battlebots, too.
    • Man, you did battlebots, and they still haven't contacted you? I mean, that totally proves your qualifications.

  • While reading the link explaining the radioactive leftovers part, I remembered my feelings about nuclear energy, which I will summarise in the following two points:
    • - There is no practical way to replace nuclear power plants within the medium term (not even long term). The associated costs would be very high and no government would take that direction even under the most favourable conditions (e.g., all the population against nuclear energy because of a very important accident). On the other hand, it might
    • by Tetch ( 534754 )

      The reply about breaking walls of text into paragraphs is worth noting, especially in these days of soundbite culture and bloody tablet devices :-)

      But your basic point is sound IMO. We have a serious energy supply problem: we cannot continue burning fossil fuels. Quite apart from the putative impact on the global-warming problem, fossil fuels are a dead-end road - we don't have very much left. Coal takes 400 million years to form (IIRC), and oil even longer. It's not just boiling water - pretty much eve

      • by ColaMan ( 37550 )

        Coal in large quantities will likely never form again. White fungus evolved and now efficiently eats the huge amounts of plant matter required to make coal.

      • Thanks for your detailed answer and your nice comments (I am new in Slashdot and am trying to do my level best :)).

        Regarding what you say, fossil fuels are certainly not a solution; but neither nuclear energy. For me, nuclear energy is the door which we shouldn't ever have opened but which, once done, we cannot close. The nuclear plants cannot be replaced because they produce too much power (you would need at least 2 conventional power plans to replace just a nuclear one); at least, not in countries like
        • by Tetch ( 534754 )

          we are activating very slow bombs which will (virtually) never be deactivated (by the way, I guess that this is what your video is about. Unfortunately, the link does not work).

          The film keeps being uploaded to Youtube, and then removed again by YT because of a copyright complaint. Many people feel strongly anough that the film should be seen that they keep re-uploading it, and so the silly battle goes on.

          When you start a single nuclear power plan, you are triggering a set of consequences which the Earth and the future generations will be bearing no matter what during the next quite a few thousands of years.


          The film is superb, and will likely leave you quiet and thoughtfuil for days afterwards (though perhaps you already know about it). The Onkalo project is ongoing, and won't be completed till most of us are dead - it consists of the construction in Finland of an undergroun

          • It certainly sounds interesting. No, I didn't know anything about this video and will certainly watch it (might write here an update afterwards).

            In any case and just to support my point (i.e., try as hard as you can to fix it but by bearing in mind that we are talking about a really difficult problem which we are only starting to understand), a couple of ideas I extracted from the referred Wikipedia article:
            - "The Onkalo repository is expected to be large enough to accept canisters of spent fuel for ar
        • "nuclear energy is the door which we shouldn't ever have opened but which, once done, we cannot close."

          Really? Look up LFTRs sometime.

          • I briefly knew about them. Around 10 years were the cool-but-not-really-applicable alternative, like biodiesel (less CO2 on engines, which is highly compensated with the industrial processes required to generate it). Not sure now...

            But are you saying that all the existing reactors can be replaced? (what about the costs? and the differences in power?) And don't they generate any kind of waste (100% reutilisation)? If the answer to both questions is yes, then fission might certainly be the future.
      • PS: I wasn't completely sure about what you meant with your first statement because I didn't see the AC comment (by the way, I know now what AC means; yesterday I read a reference which I couldn't understand). My reply to this comment reflects what I think about the way in which impolite, not-even-helpful, completely-unrelated-to-what-is-being-discussed and COWARD attitudes should be treated. That's why, I don't think that you should support these behaviours with a nice "is worth noting".

        PPS: In any case,
      • "nuclear technology is highly dangerous, and utterly filthy (certainly for fission) "

        Uranium-based nuclear technology is, on a number of levels - but Coal is several hundred thousand times _more_ dangerous, on a deaths per Terawatt/hr basis and burning coal releases at least as much radioactive material (mostly radium) into the atmosphere each year as several chernobyls, but noone cares about that like noone cares that they're several times more likely to die on the way to the airport than in a plane crash.

        • Are you part of the nuclear lobby? :) Because statements like "Coal is several hundred thousand times _more_ dangerous" sound, in the best scenario, not too objective. But well...

          One clarification: according to the ITER guys fusion will occur much sooner (in around 10 years?... I have checked their site since a while ago; but will certainly get fully involved in this project before its definitive start). In fact, if they can go ahead with their plans, your 50-year expectations would be wrong anyway: eit
    • "- There is no practical way to replace nuclear power plants within the medium term (not even long term)."

      Agreed, however there are practical replacements which are somewhat safer.

      Mixing high pressure (20-30 bar or more), high temperature (400-600C) borated water (ie, corrosive) and nuclear fuel rods is such a fundamentally bad idea that I'm still surprised anyone allowed it in the first place - or continues to allow it. Even Heath Robinson or Rube Goldberg would be speechless (fuel rods are routinely corro

      • You agreed on something I wrote!!! Thanks!...

        Curiously, this time I don't fully disagree with you either. There are always alternatives. And, in any case, I was being over-pessimistic and over-alarmist to raise a bit of awareness (equivalently to what you were doing for your lobby ;)) about the underlying not-always-well-known facts, like: humankind having got involved in something which they weren't even close to understand (although we have understood a bit better bomb by bomb, accident by accident and
  • Gets their mutant Roomba blob returned, and a stern warning about future encounters with Godzirra.
  • by Karmashock ( 2415832 ) on Sunday June 07, 2015 @01:14PM (#49862139)

    Any system is going to have to be pneumatic and fiber optic in nature. Electronics fail in high radiation environments.

    Every robot we've sent in there breaks in minutes if not seconds.

    If your motors are all pneumatic actuators like what you see with big dog, then they won't fail when subjected to that kind of radiation.

    Your only issue will be getting information from the robot to your command station so you can see what is going on. And the solution there is to use fiber optics. The fiber optics will transmit light into the reactor from the robot and other fiber optics will put up the reflected light to be processed by the command station.

    Possibly SOME electronics that are VERY simple will work in a high radiation environment. But nothing complicated has survived. The whole push to miniaturize stuff is counter productive when dealing with radiation.

    • by storkus ( 179708 )

      Absolutely, positively *NOT* true! If that WERE true, we wouldn't have satellites flying around in and through the Van Allen RADIATION Belts, surviving solar wind storms, and so on! What do you think the reactors rely on internally when they're operating? Radiation-hardened electronics feeding to non-hardened electronics on the outside, that's what.

      At the very worst, you can always go back to vacuum tubes (that's "valves" in the Queen's English) which, by definition, are rad-hard.

      • I'm baffled as to why we've not as yet built a single robot that can do that and survive in one of these reactors. They've all broken.

        • "I'm baffled as to why we've not as yet built a single robot that can do that and survive in one of these reactors. They've all broken."

          Let me know when you have a robot that can handle Hot (60C+) wet (steam and water) acidic (did I mention the water is borated?) environments with lots of sharp edges (broken stuff, jagged metal, etc) and uneven surfaces full of things which just _love_ to snag trailing cables.

          Oh, and you're required to pick up what's essentially a powder (uranium and plutonium oxide for

      • by MercTech ( 46455 )

        Vacuum tubes are more susceptible to radiation errors than solid state units. When you add additional ionization trails into the ions jumping from plate to plate the tube does not work as planned. You can test this yourself if you hold a decent gamma source up to the side of the photomultiplier tube in a scintillation detector. No, the sensing element in an alpha counter isn't effected by gama flux, but the gas in the photomultiplier sure is.

        I high gamma flux caused degradation in semiconductors. Satell

  • We don't need to gollump across the desert slinging a rifle Mad Max style. We don't need expressive faces. We don't need stair climber ballet dancers. We don't need batteries. We need not rely on radio controlled operation. We don't need autonomous operation. We just need to lean around corners, extend and hook onto things, retract to pull ourselves along and extend again to get a camera and radiation monitor on a swivel close enough to far corners to answer the most pressing questions. A tentacle with two

  • By the time the submission got published here the competition was already over. A South Korean team won [].

  • Corporations are DIRTY and care for nothing but profit, so even reading the fineprint doesn't always work (if they even offer it): [] [] []
  • "A news report says Japan's tsunami-ravaged nuclear plant was so unprepared for the disaster that workers had to bring protective gear and instruction manuals from elsewhere and borrow equipment from a contractor. The report, released by operator Tokyo Electric Co, is based on interviews of workers and plant data. It portrays chaos in a desperate and ultimately unsuccessful battle to protect the Fukushima plant from meltdown, and shows that workers struggled with unfamiliar equipment." - "Scientists

Man is an animal that makes bargains: no other animal does this-- no dog exchanges bones with another. -- Adam Smith