- Michigan GOP Senate hopeful reminds government is the ‘servant’
- Christmas, by Congress: Members mull a 15-cent tax on trees
- U.S. unemployment falls to five-year low of 7 percent; 203K jobs added
- World mourns Nelson Mandela and celebrates his life; burial set for Dec. 15
- Bill O’Reilly reminds: Nelson Mandela ‘was a communist’
- John Boehner says GOP should support gay candidates: ‘I do’
- Grass-Whopper: Pan-fried cricket burgers go over big in New York City
- CDC sees measles spike and ‘failure to vaccinate’
- Ex-Secret Service agent seeking Md. seat: Everyone’s a ‘de facto criminal’ now
- New prosthetic hand technology lets amputees feel again
Toshiba shows off robot meant to help at nuke site
YOKOHAMA, JAPAN (AP) - Toshiba Corp. has developed a robot it says can withstand high radiation to work in nuclear disasters, but it's not clear what exactly the robot is capable of doing if and when it gets the go-ahead to enter Japan's crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant.
The four-legged robot can climb over debris and venture into radiated areas off-limits to humans. One significant innovation, Toshiba said, is that its wireless network can be controlled in high radiation, automatically seeking better transmission when reception becomes weak.
But the machine, which looks like an ice cooler on wobbly metal legs, also appears prone to glitches. The robot took a jerky misstep during a demonstration to reporters, freezing with one leg up in the air. It had to be lifted by several people and rebooted.
The robot was also notably slow in climbing a flight of eight steps, cautiously lifting its legs one by one, and taking about a minute to go up each step.
With obstacles that aren't as even and predictable as steps, such as the debris at the Fukushima plant, it may need as much as 10 minutes to figure out how to clear the object, Toshiba acknowledged.
And if it ever falls, it will not be able to get up on its own.
Still, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said it might use the robot to inspect the suppression chamber of the nuclear plant where a devastating meltdown occurred after a mammoth tsunami slammed into northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011.
Toshiba began developing the robot with hopes it would prove useful in helping to decommission the plant. No human has been able to enter the highly radiated chamber since the tsunami disaster.
"We need this to go in and first check what is there," Toshiba Senior Manager Goro Yanase said Wednesday.
It was unclear when a decision on the robot's use would be made, according to TEPCO, which operates the nuclear plant.
Although what Toshiba showed was top-notch robotics, what the machine might be able to do appeared limited in the face of the disaster's magnitude and complexity.
Japan boasts among the world's most sophisticated robotics technology, exemplified in the walking, talking human-shaped Asimo robot from Honda Motor Co. The inability of such gadgetry to help out with the Fukushima disaster was widely criticized.
Part of the reason is that robots, although suited for tasks such as greeting visitors at dealerships, are too delicate. Their wireless remote-controlled networks are not designed to endure high radiation. Honda has acknowledged Asimo would not have been able to withstand the environment at Fukushima, as some had suggested.
Toshiba's Yanase said the new robot, which has a dosimeter to measure radiation and six cameras, can stay in a 100 millisievert environment for about a year and can tolerate even higher radiated areas for shorter periods. At 100 millisieverts, the rise in cancer cases caused by radiation becomes statistically detectable, although even lower dose radiation is not advisable for people.
The suppression chamber was 360 millisieverts the last time it was measured, TEPCO said.
Decommissioning Fukushima Dai-ichi is expected to take decades.
Follow Yuri Kageyama on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/yurikageyama
- Activists urge Obama to go rogue, sidestep Congress
- PRUDEN: British press horrified as London's new mayor dares to proclaim the truth
- Bill OReilly reminds: Nelson Mandela was a communist
- Budget negotiators look to federal workers for benefit concessions
- Spike in battlefield deaths linked to restrictive rules of engagement
- New battlefront emerges in war between Republicans, tea party
- EDITORIAL: Our ideological president
- Inside China: Nuclear submarines capable of widespread attack on U.S.
- 'Hunger Games' delivers Obama's message on income inequality
- Blast of winter weather heads to D.C. area
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Positive propaganda for a nation in peril.
Happiness is attainable. Morning to night. I love to teach, deal with folks that have an issue and really wish to tackle it and write.
Born in 1930 in rural Missouri, Charles Vandegriffe, Sr., brings his time and place to the Communities.
A collection of reader guest articles, thoughts and opinions by Communities writers and breaking news and information.
White House pets gone wild!