Next step for nuclear robotics

21 November 2012

Robots have been useful in surveying dangerous areas of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, but a walking robot revealed by Toshiba today promises to undertake more complex tasks in future.

Tetrapod robot (Toshiba) 181x250
The tetrapod robot stands approximately waist-high
(Image: Toshiba)

The new robot, known only as 'the tetrapod robot', can avoid obstacles, deal with uneven surfaces and climb stairs, enabling it to reach places in dangerous environments out of reach for current wheeled or tracked robots. It stands about waist-high and weighs 65 kilograms, carrying a dosimeter and main camera of its own as well as a secondary camera deployable into small spaces via a folding arm. In addition to on-board equipment, the robot can carry up to 20 kilograms and it is powered by a battery that lasts up to two hours.

Tokyo Electric Power Company has used robots several times to survey the contaminated reactor buildings at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. In April, for example, a tracked robot completed a circuit of the torus room deep within the reactor building of unit 2. This two-hour operation, in an area too radioactive to send workers, returned images that confirmed the basic integrity of the torus and ended speculation that it had ruptured during the accident.

Toshiba said research will continue with the aim of developing future models that can "position and install shielding, stop flows of water and remove obstacles" as well as conduct surveys.

Researched an written
by World Nuclear News