The August 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

Videos of PackBot Robots Inside Fukushima Reactors Released

Tokyo Electric Power Co. has released multiple videos showing two iRobot PackBots navigating inside the dark, highly radioactive buildings

2 min read
Videos of PackBot Robots Inside Fukushima Reactors Released

Special Report: Fukushima and the Future of Nuclear Power

This is part of IEEE Spectrum’s ongoing coverage of Japan’s earthquake and nuclear emergency. For more details on how Fukushima Dai-1’s nuclear reactors work and what has gone wrong so far, see our explainer and our timeline.

A few days ago, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the operator of the Fukushima nuclear power plant, sent iRobot PackBots into three reactor buildings at the complex. Now TEPCO has released multiple videos showing two PackBots navigating inside the dark, highly radioactive buildings.

It's quite a sight to watch the robots negotiating steps, rolling over debris, and pointing their cameras to sensors and other equipment inside the badly damaged buildings. In the first video below, you can see one of the robots using its manipulator arm to close a heavy door. The last video shows what appear to be sensor readings that reveal low oxygen levels and high radioactivity.

[Note: the videos have no audio.]

Videos: TEPCO

READ ALSO:

Robotic Drone Captures Dramatic Footage of Fukushima Destruction
Wed, April 20, 2011

Blog Post: Video and photos taken by a Honeywell T-Hawk micro air vehicle show damage with unprecedented detail

Robots Enter Fukushima Reactors, Detect High Radiation
Mon, April 18, 2011

Blog Post: Two iRobot PackBot ground robots have entered Unit 1 and Unit 3 of the Fukushima nuclear power plant and performed radioactivity measurements

Can Japan Send In Robots To Fix Troubled Nuclear Reactors?
Tue, March 22, 2011

Blog Post: It’s too dangerous for humans to enter the Fukushima Dai-1 nuclear plant. Why not send in robots?

Robot Surveys Damaged Gymnasium Too Dangerous for Rescue Workers
Fri, March 25, 2011

Blog Post: Researchers used a remote-controlled robot to enter a partially collapsed building and assess damages

The Conversation (0)

How Robots Can Help Us Act and Feel Younger

Toyota’s Gill Pratt on enhancing independence in old age

10 min read
An illustration of a woman making a salad with robotic arms around her holding vegetables and other salad ingredients.
Dan Page
Blue

By 2050, the global population aged 65 or more will be nearly double what it is today. The number of people over the age of 80 will triple, approaching half a billion. Supporting an aging population is a worldwide concern, but this demographic shift is especially pronounced in Japan, where more than a third of Japanese will be 65 or older by midcentury.

Toyota Research Institute (TRI), which was established by Toyota Motor Corp. in 2015 to explore autonomous cars, robotics, and “human amplification technologies,” has also been focusing a significant portion of its research on ways to help older people maintain their health, happiness, and independence as long as possible. While an important goal in itself, improving self-sufficiency for the elderly also reduces the amount of support they need from society more broadly. And without technological help, sustaining this population in an effective and dignified manner will grow increasingly difficult—first in Japan, but globally soon after.

Keep Reading ↓Show less