New four legged robot developed by Toshiba to search inside Fukushima reactors

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Japanese electronics manufacturer Toshiba has developed a 4-legged remote-controlled robot which stands 1 meter tall on four 27 ½ inch long legs.  The robot is equipped with six video cameras and a radiation detector, and sort of looks like a video projector on legs resembling the ‘walker’ robots from star wars.

”This robot can enter parts of the plant that haven’t been investigated before,” said a Toshiba spokesman.

During the demonstration, the robot experienced a case of stage fright. The shuffling Tetrapod locked up and suddenly froze after it tried to balance itself, forcing technicians to carry it away.

Toshiba claims the tetrapod-shaped robot will be able to work for 300 days in a high-radiation environment, and is capable of carrying a load of 45 pounds.  Instead of moving along a tread on a track like other robots designed for the Fukushima disaster cleanup, the 27 and a half inch-long legs give it a very animal-like appearance allow it to traverse obstacles up to 16 inches high, and also ascend and descend staircases.  The multiple joints of its legs are controlled by a dedicated movement algorithm that enables the robot to walk on uneven surfaces, avoid obstacles and climb stairs, securing access into areas that is challenging to be reached by wheeled robots or crawlers.

Riding on top attached to a folding arm, the robot carries another smaller mobile robot, which is also equipped with a camera and can be unloaded to inspect the underside of pipes and tight areas.  The smaller robot is attached by a cable, but if it becomes stuck the larger robot is equipped to cut the cord and detach it.

Goro Yanase of Toshiba says he wants to develop robots that can carry heavy loads or carry out more complex tasks at the plant, like positioning and installing shielding, stopping flows of water and removing obstacles.

TEPCO is considering possibly using the robot to investigate the outer surfaces of the suppression chambers of the crippled reactors, but has not made a final decision at this time.

Outline of the tetrapod robot

Weight: 65kg
Size: 624mm (L) x 587mm (W) x 1066mm (H)
Power Source: Battery
Battery time: 2 hours (continuous use)
Weight Capacity: 20kg
Walking Speed: 1km/h
Operation: Wireless remote control

Outline of the second camera

Weight: 2kg
Size: 313mm (L) x 327mm (W) x 47mm (H)
Power Source: Battery
Battery time: 1 hour
Speed: 200m/ h
Operation: cable connection with the main robot

Source: Toshiba

Source: WSJ

Source: NHK

Source: The Star

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