When the Fukushima nuclear disaster hit last year, many were surprised that Japan had to look to the U.S. for nuclear disaster-ready robots to aid in the stabilization of the plant. Hoping to avoid a similar embarrassment, Toshiba has unveiled a new robot specifically designed for work in nuclear emergencies.
The Toshiba quadruped robot is equipped with six cameras and a dosimeter to measure radiation, and can be controlled remotely, allowing emergency workers to assess damages to a nuclear site from a safe distance. Although the four-legged robot can walk up and down stairs, Toshiba has also paired it with a small camera-equipped platform vehicle that can be deployed from the robot's base to take photos in narrow, hard-to-reach areas.
The 143-pound robot can operate independently for up to two hours, and the smaller unit, attached by a small cable, can operate for up to one hour. Toshiba hopes to use the robot to assist TEPCO with its ongoing repair efforts as the plant continues to recover from the damage caused by the tsunami initiated by the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011.