Rescue Robot Developed to Help at Fukushima Nuclear Plant
As concern has grown over the impact of radiation exposure on relief workers at the Fukushima nuclear reactor, research groups have been working out a way to explore areas within the plant without putting anyone in danger. As a result, researchers from various organizations across Japan have developed a robot for exploring restricted areas at the reactor.
The robot, dubbed Quince, was developed by making improvements to a robot that had already been built by the International Rescue System Institute (IRS), according to a report from TechOn. Unlike its predecessor, Quince can be controlled remotely from a distance of up to 1.2 miles (2 km), enabling operators to remain a safe distance away while it explores the plant.
It is still unclear as to whether or not the robot can actually be used for the nuclear accident, because there is not enough information about the amount of radiation inside buildings. But researchers have taken steps to help reduce the influence any radiation would have on the robot's operations. Quince's camera is covered with a 1 mm-thick lead plate in order to prevent damage to its image sensor, and the pictures are taken via a mirror.
Quince has four sets of wheels, each driving a tank-like rubber track, and is powered by a total of six electric motors. What makes the Quince useful for searches at Fukushima is its ability navigate debris and "roll over bumps and up and down slopes as steep as 82 degrees," said a report from Robaid. It can also carry thermal imaging devices, a radiation counter, 3D scanner and camera capable of panning, tilting and zooming.
The researchers have offered Quince's services up to relief workers at the plant, and will find out soon enough whether or not their efforts have paid off.
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