These lil’ guys spray down and vacuum up radioactive debris at Fukushima Daiichi.Photo: Asianometry via YouTube
The idea of a nuclear power plant having a meltdown is one that strikes fear into the hearts of most people. It’s a massively dangerous event that can affect people all around the world and can take decades or more to contain or clean up even then leading to areas becoming uninhabitable for millennia.
The most recent major nuclear disaster happened at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan in 2011 and saw several reactors melt their fuel, some of which then went on to have a hydrogen explosion. Since the meltdown occurred, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has been working to document and clean the huge radioactive mess there, but, unlike that scene from HBO’s Chernobyl, it’s not using people to do this deadly work. It’s using robots.
The Fukushima Robots
This video from the YouTube channel Asianometry not only goes into the many different types of robots used at Fukushima, some of American and most of Japanese design, but it also goes into a brief history of the use of robots in nuclear disasters going back to the Three Mile Island accident which happened in Pennsylvania in 1979.
Robotics is cool (other than those terrifying Boston Dynamics robots), and this is a case where they’re not just doing important work with bleeding-edge technology; they’re actively saving lives.