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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

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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)

The Bionic-Hand Arms Race

The prosthetics industry is too focused on high-tech limbs that are complicated, costly, and often impractical

12 min read
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A photograph of a young woman with brown eyes and neck length hair dyed rose gold sits at a white table. In one hand she holds a carbon fiber robotic arm and hand. Her other arm ends near her elbow. Her short sleeve shirt has a pattern on it of illustrated hands.

The author, Britt Young, holding her Ottobock bebionic bionic arm.

Gabriela Hasbun. Makeup: Maria Nguyen for MAC cosmetics; Hair: Joan Laqui for Living Proof
DarkGray

In Jules Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon, members of the fictitious Baltimore Gun Club, all disabled Civil War veterans, restlessly search for a new enemy to conquer. They had spent the war innovating new, deadlier weaponry. By the war’s end, with “not quite one arm between four persons, and exactly two legs between six,” these self-taught amputee-weaponsmiths decide to repurpose their skills toward a new projectile: a rocket ship.

The story of the Baltimore Gun Club propelling themselves to the moon is about the extraordinary masculine power of the veteran, who doesn’t simply “overcome” his disability; he derives power and ambition from it. Their “crutches, wooden legs, artificial arms, steel hooks, caoutchouc [rubber] jaws, silver craniums [and] platinum noses” don’t play leading roles in their personalities—they are merely tools on their bodies. These piecemeal men are unlikely crusaders of invention with an even more unlikely mission. And yet who better to design the next great leap in technology than men remade by technology themselves?

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