Robotics industry learns from successes and failures at Fukushima

Robots crawl into, sometimes get lost, in rubble of highly radioactive disaster site

endeavor fukushima robot 1
Credit: A pair of Packbots enter the reactor 3 building at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in April 2011/Endeavor Robotics

Without robots, there would be no safe way to clean up the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The problem is that recently, some of the robots being used in the most dangerous and critical part of the cleanup of the 2011 nuclear plant disaster failed. The robots succumbed to massive amounts of radiation or got stuck in rubble.  

On March 11, 2011, hydrogen explosions ripped through the plant when a devastating earthquake and tsunami struck Japan. The power plant suffered catastrophic meltdowns in three of its six nuclear reactors.

Six years later, the environment inside the facilities remains too dangerous for people, and even for some robots.

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