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Robots Mustering for Recovery in Japan

Posted 20 Mar 2011 at 18:40 UTC (updated 21 Mar 2011 at 15:38 UTC) by John_RobotsPodcast Share This

top and left views of Monirobo, with notes in Japanese

A radiation monitoring robot, dubbed Monirobo ("monitor" + "robot") (source), developed by Japan's Nuclear Safety Technology Center (NUSTEC), has been deployed to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. While possibly the only robot being brought into play which had been specifically designed for use in a nuclear accident, it's far from the only robot to be deployed, or at least offerred for deployment during the recovery phase of the current disaster in Japan. (More after the break)

Dr. Robin Murphy of CRASAR argues on her blog that robots are needed even more now than during the search and rescue phase, due to the massive scale of the cleanup facing Japan. There is debris to be cleared, infrastructure, much of it submerged, to be checked for damage, and something like 11,000 bodies to be recovered, most of them also under water. Moreover, that water is far from ideal for diving, being turbid, and, at least in the north where the tsunami hit hardest, cold.

Examples of other robots either being deployed or offerred for deployment in the recovery effort include KOHGA3 developed by Prof. Fumitoshi Matsuno of Kyoto University, and a robot capable of underwater inspections, developed by Prof. Eiji Koyanagi of the Future Robotics Technology Center at Chiba Institute of Technology. At the request of the Special Ops group of Japan's Self Defense Forces, iRobot has sent four robots and a team to train Japanese personnel in their use, to help bring the situation at the Fukushima nuclear facility under control. Kaman Aerospace has received some inquiries regarding the possible use of their K-MAX remotely operated helicopter. (source)

Recent articles on Robotland have mentioned quite a number of robots from around the world which might prove helpful, and Japan itself has developed an assortment of devices for use in disasters, although most of these are prototypes which have not advanced to volume production, limiting their usefulness.

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