While some companies are working on particularly strong anti-radiation suits, others have been developing vehicles and robots that all share the same purpose: to clean up the irradiated zone inside and around Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant.The earthquake and tsunami that rocked Japan back in March 2011 severely damaged the plant, and despite the efforts of the workers there, all those that could be spared among the mayhem, a nuclear meltdown could not be averted.
Fukushima is now a highly irradiated area, where cleanup efforts have yet to make much of a difference despite the incident having taken place a year and a half ago.
Not only is radiation hard to “clean up,” but it is also very dangerous for people, even workers wearing anti-radiation suits, especially after prolonged exposure.
Robots and vehicles make up the core of the ongoing operations, and Toshiba wants to contribute.
What the company has invented is the Quadruped, a walking robot with four double-jointed legs.
The Fukushima cleanup efforts already include UAVs, refitted TALON machines, packbots and human workers.
Even so, however, some uninhabitable and irradiated areas cannot be reached and attended to through those means.
The Quadruped can do so for two hours before needing a recharge, and the second robot (which rides on its back) can explore tight spaces for up to an hour, tethered to the larger one.
Cameras and radiation dosimeters are being installed on the two bots, so that officials may at least use them to assess and survey the damage to the plant, if nothing else.
The larger robot weighs 143 pounds (65 kg), is 3 feet 5 inches tall (106 cm) and has a walking speed of 1 km/h (0.6 mph). The small one weighs 4.4 pounds (2 kg).
Watch the video below for a short demonstration of what each of them can do.