Robots and Bobcat loaders from Qinetiq North America have arrived in Tokyo, and workers are training with them before being deployed to the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which continues to pose a serious radiation threat.
The Virginia-based defense contractor sent 20,000 pounds worth of equipment to Japan this week, including kits that can turn loaders into remote-controlled bulldozers in minutes.
One of the biggest obstacles to getting the Fukushima crisis under control is the continuing radiation threatening workers. This might be a perfect opportunity for robots to help out, but operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) didn't have its own bots to deploy.
Japan's Nuclear Safety Technology Center sent its Moni Robo A, a 5-foot-tall radiation-detecting robot developed by Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding, to the plant. But debris from the March 11 tsunami and explosions that damaged buildings have prevented it from being used, TEPCO said in an IDG News report.
From Denver, Bobcat sent T300 loaders that are powerful enough to lift cars, and Bobcat staff in Japan have completed training on how to control them from laptops. Qinetiq also sent its Robotic Applique Kits, which can convert Bobcat loaders to unmanned vehicles in 15 minutes.
"You can attach anything to them, from bulldozer parts to hooks, to move debris," said Qinetiq spokeswoman Jennifer Pickett, who added that the machines should be at the plant site next week. … Read more