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Japan Robotics Technology

Where Were the Robots In Fukushima Crisis? 130

mdsolar writes "When the huge Fukushima nuclear disaster first started, many on Slashdot were calling for robots to come to the rescue. This is the story of why our overlords were caught napping. Not to worry though, ¥1 billion has been allocated to correct the robot problem. They will be properly welcomed."
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Where Were the Robots In Fukushima Crisis?

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  • by Gnavpot ( 708731 ) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @11:20AM (#38629278)

    The comments here on /. are focused on why robots were not built in advance. But I am wondering why nothing was done in the days after the disaster.

    When I heard about the attempts of cooling from the outside using fire trucks, which failed because the radiation was too high for the personnel, my first thought was:
    Mythbusters can make a vehicle remote operated for a weekly TV show. The entire nation of Japan can't make a fire truck remote operated after facing a nuclear disaster?

  • by Ihmhi ( 1206036 ) <i_have_mental_health_issues@yahoo.com> on Sunday January 08, 2012 @11:29AM (#38629356)

    Noah was probably a dude on a raft with a couple of goats, and some writer seriously blew that shit out of proportion.

  • by cyfer2000 ( 548592 ) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @11:38AM (#38629432) Journal
    Under high radiation, even oils like lubricants and hydraulic liquids can go bad very quickly. You can imagine your car running with gunk instead of oil.
  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @11:55AM (#38629586)

    I think the Japanese (and the world in general) had a pretty good idea of the relationship between earthquakes and Tsunamis long before plate tectonics was understood. http://academic.evergreen.edu/g/grossmaz/DANIELSC/index.html [evergreen.edu]

    Interesting note: Some villagers on Sumatra survived the 2004 Tsunami [wikipedia.org] because their mythology included stories of what happens when there's an earthquake and then the water in the bay recedes (answer: run like hell for high ground).

  • by Cassini2 ( 956052 ) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @01:04PM (#38630150)

    What? What is this "Magnetics" and how does that protect against gamma rays?

    Most of a robot is built with some fairly old-school stuff, like steel and copper, and this is unaffected by gamma rays (in the short term). The robot moves through the use of magnetics ie: Electric Motors. It turns out that most electric motors, along with the steel and rubber used in most robots is short-term invulnerable to low intensity (and even fairly high intensity) radiation. The issue is that certain types of radiation generate electric (and magnetic) fields which play havoc with some of the fancy sensors used in the newer brushless DC motor designs. The solution is to redesign the magnetics of the robot such that they use old-school technologies which operate happily in extreme environments.

    Radiation sources like gamma rays will eventually effect some of the key non-electronic systems of robots. In particular, they can break down insulation. Also, they can render the entire robot radioactive, and not safe to be around people. Prolonged exposure to high-energy sources may also damage bearing surfaces, preventing robot motion. However, long before any of this happens, the electronics will act up.

    The GP poster was trying to suggest: is (a) take a regular robot, (b) install radiation protected electronics, (c) use a bunch of old-school servo-motor technologies (like DC motors and resolvers), and (d) you will have a short-term survivable rad-hardened robot.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 08, 2012 @04:08PM (#38631388)

    Actually french nuclear intervention team send them 3 remote operated firetruck, a excavator, a bulldozer and 2 team of operators. They refused them for the false pretext those vehicle was unadapted. Those radiation proof remote operated vehicle already exist but for political reason they refuse to use them.

    Why did the did that ? They didn't want foreign expert to have access to the site or evaluate the situation.


    For the mythbusters part, it's not trivial to actually build this kind of vehicle, all the electronic must be radiation proof (thing spacial grade equipment) and they are usually wire-linked because radio is unreliable in those environment.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982