In Brief
In the ongoing battle to clean up Japan's crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, Toshiba is deploying a novel robot that's a bit like a scorpion.
  • Toshiba wants to deploy the device to help determine the condition and location of melted-down fuel in the reactor, which is too dangerous for workers to enter. The effort is part of decommissioning work at the plant that’s expected to take decades.
  • The robot is 54 centimeters long, and can put itself right-side up if it topples over. It has a joint near its middle that allows it to raise its tail like a scorpion, bringing a camera and LED lights to bear on its environment, complementing another camera and LEDs in its nose section.
  • The video feed will be used by operators using devices resembling PlayStation game controllers. Control signals are sent to the robot through a wire. The 5-kilogram (11-pound) machine also has a thermometer and a dosimeter. It can withstand about 100 Sieverts per hour of radiation for 10 hours.