Critical.
Authoritative.
Strategic.
Subscribe to CIO Magazine »

Robots enter Fukushima reactor building for first time

The plant operator is hoping the iRobot Packbots will be able to provide data on current conditions

A pair of remote controlled robots entered a reactor building at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on Sunday morning for the first time.

Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power is hoping the iRobot Packbots will be able to provide data on the current condition inside the buildings, parts of which contain high levels of radioactivity and are hazardous for workers to enter.

The robots entered the plant's number 3 reactor building and were due to take radiation and temperature readings. They are equipped with video cameras that can provide a live feed to operators.

Photos released by Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) showed one of the robots manipulating a handle on the second of a pair of double doors that lead into the reactor building.

TEPCO has yet to release any information about what the robots found inside the building. If the mission proves a success, the robots will also be used inside the adjacent reactor buildings 1 and 2 at the plant.

The plant owner has been wrestling to bring the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant under control for just over a month since a tsunami, estimated at 14 meters high, slammed into the facility and damaging its cooling system. Subsequent explosions have damaged three of the reactor buildings and spread radioactive contamination into the surrounding environment.

Workers initially braved high levels of radiation to prevent an even larger disaster, but their time on-site was strictly limited by the radiation. TEPCO has begun employing remote controlled robots and machinery because they face no such restrictions.

A remote control excavator and transporter are being used to clear debris around the plant and an unmanned helicopter is being employed to shoot video of the outside and upper areas of the reactor buildings. The robots that entered on Sunday will give plant operators their first look at the interior of the reactor building's lower levels.

The iRobot Packbots are designed for use in hazardous environments. More than 3,000 of the robots have been supplied to military and civilian customers, which use them in applications such as bomb defusing.

Martyn Williams covers Japan and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

Join the CIO Australia group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.

More about: IDG, iRobot
References show all
Comments are now closed.
Related Coverage
Related Whitepapers
Latest Stories
Community Comments
Tags: iRobot, robotics, Tokyo Electric Power Co.
Latest Blog Posts
Whitepapers
  • Transform IT, Transform the Enterprise
    Existing IT operational models and an ageing infrastructure are CIOs back from their full potential. This paper reveals the three IT imperatives for a CIO-led transformation, and details how CIOs are adopting strategies to change IT and assert their organisations as business leaders and innovators.
    Learn more »
  • Why you should be re-thinking your approach to data protection
    Organisations of all shapes and sizes need a new approach to data protection that addresses the challenges of data growth, but IT budgets are not keeping pace with the escalating costs of supporting storage requirements. This whitepaper explores how securing and retrieving organisational data will need to be done more efficiently.
    Learn more »
  • Top 20 Critical Security Controls - Compliance Guide
    Simply being compliant is not enough to mitigate attacks and protect critical information. Organizations can reduce chances of compromise by shifting away from a compliance-driven approach. This guide provides the Top 20 Critical Security Controls (CSCs) developed by the SANS Institute to address the need for a risk-based approach to security.
    Learn more »
All whitepapers
rhs_login_lockGet exclusive access to Invitation only events CIO, reports & analysis.
Salary Calculator

Supplied by

View the full Peoplebank ICT Salary & Employment Index


Computerworld
ARN
Techworld
CMO