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
  • Journey to the Future-State framework
    Defining the future role and cataloguing the competencies that would take CIOs there was only the first step. In 2009 Council members pushed for more – they wanted to help the IT profession make the journey from Functional Head (where IT is inevitably viewed as a cost centre) to a Business Strategist (where IT is externally focused and viewed as an organisational ‘game changer’). Although a single prescription for advancing the role is impossible because CIOs circumstances are all different, members wanted a general roadmap and guidelines.
    Learn more »
  • Google+ Guide
    From “hangouts” to “communities,” Google+ has a lot to offer to brands looking to engage audiences and refine their strategies on this social platform. The Google+ Update, by Oracle Social Cloud (#OracleSocial), includes an overview of new features and functionality, user demographics, industry trends, and a review of best practices that will help increase the likelihood of user engagement and aid in a brand’s success in this channel.
    Learn more »
  • The Three Essential Steps to Successful Cloud Migration
    Businesses and enterprises have quickly realised the power and efficiency of cloud computing, but migrating to the cloud can be a challenging process. This guide leads you through the three key steps you should take to assess your workload, select the most appropriate cloud model and ensure your cloud provider’s migration methodology stacks up.
    Learn more »
All whitepapers
rhs_login_lockGet exclusive access to Invitation only events CIO, reports & analysis.
Latest Jobs
Salary Calculator

Supplied by

View the full Peoplebank ICT Salary & Employment Index

Recent comments

Computerworld
ARN
Techworld
CMO