Hitachi robot to tackle Fukushima rubble

11 December 2012

A new robot is set to join the Fukushima Daiichi cleanup effort. Hitachi's newly unveiled ASTACO-SoRa compact heavy-duty robot will start work removing rubble at the site from 2013.

ASTACO-SoRa (Image: Hitachi)

ASTACO-SoRa's compact 980 mm body means the robot can pass through narrow spaces, but its dual arms give it a reach of about 2.5 m, giving it a wide degree of operating freedom. The arms are capable of lifting up to 150 kg each and can be equipped with a variety of tools including cutting and lifting tools and a camera. The tools, with the exception of the camera, can be replaced remotely.

The robot is operated by remote control from a dedicated control panel. Six onboard cameras allow operators to monitor the robot's surroundings, while lasers are used to detect the width of the passageway the robot is moving through and any objects in its path. The unit carries its own radiation dosemeters.

Robots are frequently used in nuclear and other industries to access difficult-to-reach or highly contaminated areas. At Fukushima, robots have been used to survey the damage inflicted on the plant after the 2011 tsunami and are being developed to undertake more complex tasks. Unlike Toshiba's recently announced battery operated tetrapod 'walking' robot, ASTACO-SoRa cannot climb stairs, but its diesel engines enable it to operate for up to 15 hours at a time.

ASTACO-SoRa has been developed by Hitachi Engineering & Services and Hitachi Construction Machinery.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News