MHI robot makes light work of cleanup

20 December 2012

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) is the latest company to unveil a prototype robot designed to work in areas rendered inaccessible to human workers following accidents or disasters.

MEISTeR disaster recovery support robot (Image: MHI)

The robot, named MEISTeR (Maintenance Equipment Integrated System of Telecontrol Robot) can trace its ancestry back to the RaBOT (Radiation-proof Robot) nuclear hazard response robot developed by MHI in response to a 1999 criticality accident at the Tokai-mura nuclear fuel processing facility. MEISTeR has been developed to be capable of undertaking work at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

MEISTeR boasts two arms which can be fitted with different tools to enable it to carry out tasks such as carrying objects, drilling and opening and closing valves. Each arm can carry objects weighing up to 15kg, and can perform free movements similar to a human arm thanks to a 7-axis control system. MHI has developed a range of tools for the robot including drills, clamps and specimen sampling equipment. The 70cm-wide robot is able to collect core samples up to 7cm in length from concrete walls or floors to measure contamination levels.

As well its disaster support functions such as monitoring, inspection and sample collecting, MEISTeR is versatile enough to be used for tasks such as moving obstacles, decontaminating walls and floors, cutting pipes and guard rails and light repair work.

Like the heavy-duty ASTACO-SoRa robot recently unveiled by Hitachi, MEISTeR moves using crawlers. It can climb slopes of up to 40 degrees and can also cope with steps up to 22cm. Unlike ASTACO-SoRa, which is diesel-powered, MEISTeR is battery-powered and can operate for two hours on a single charge.

MEISTeR is the third new robot designed for use in inaccessible, contaminated spaces to be announced in recent weeks, following Hitachi's ASTACO-SoRa and Toshiba's walking "tetrapod robot".

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News