When an earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in 2011, causing a catastrophic meltdown and radiation leak, plans to use robots to perform much-needed repairs were quickly dashed. The environment simply proved too complex and unstable for any normal robot to venture into.
In the years since, there have been efforts to develop robots that should be more useful. The disaster inspired a spectacular robot competition called the DARPA Robotics Challenge, designed to simulate rescue efforts. It led to the development of some remarkable new robots capable of working in unstructured environments.
The Japan Times now reports that Toshiba, which manufactured the worst-hit reactor and is helping with the cleanup, has made a two-armed submersible robot that will float into reactor 3 to try to remove debris and retrieve some of the reactor’s fuel rods. The effort shows that, in contrast to all the fancy robots tested at the DARPA challenge, a simple, custom-made machine is sometimes the best solution for a given task.
The new robot is expected to embark on its mission sometime in 2017. Even if it’s successful, the environment will remain too dangerous for humans to go into. But it would be a major step forward in cleaning up the disaster site.
For more, check out this video by the Japan Times:
(source: Japan Times)
Anti-aging drugs are being tested as a way to treat covid
Drugs that rejuvenate our immune systems and make us biologically younger could help protect us from the disease’s worst effects.
A quick guide to the most important AI law you’ve never heard of
The European Union is planning new legislation aimed at curbing the worst harms associated with artificial intelligence.
It will soon be easy for self-driving cars to hide in plain sight. We shouldn’t let them.
If they ever hit our roads for real, other drivers need to know exactly what they are.
Crypto is weathering a bitter storm. Some still hold on for dear life.
When a cryptocurrency’s value is theoretical, what happens if people quit believing?
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.