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Calling All Robots – Japan Needs You

March 22, 2011

Japan Asks World for Unmanned Vehicles to Help During Crisis

“As the Fukushima Fifty bravely battle to prevent meltdown at the Tsunami-hit Japanese nuclear plant in Japan, robots have been sent to help with the clean-up.

They include the U.S.-made iRobot gadgets, which move about on tracks and have a single crane-like arm, will certainly be used to move rubble and test radiation levels.

Japan’s Mitsui firm last week sent its scanning Disaster Monitoring Robot, or Moni-Robo, to the Daiichi site as well.” Says DAILY MAIL REPORTER.

On track to help: An iRobot 710 Warrior robot, can lift rubble weighing up to 220lb

And, this request just in from the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International…

A number of AUVSI members have inquired about information on how to offer assistance to Japan as the country deals with the crisis left by the earthquake and tsunami. The Japanese government has asked for assistance specifically for the crisis at its nuclear plant.

AUVSI has been working with the U.S. State Department about this specific request. We have received the following requirements on UAS capabilities to support reactor cooling operations. The Japanese government has requested:

• Remote-controlled equipment and other remote-controlled transport machinery designed for countermeasures against radiation disaster (including their specification).

• Remote-controlled equipment refers to small-sized, lightweight, unmanned monitoring robots or aircraft survey systems which could be utilized, in cases of nuclear disasters, to gather monitoring information by remote control in a speedy and safe manner without the risks of radiation exposure.

• Other remote-controlled transport machinery refers to unmanned trucks or helicopters that are capable of delivering goods and equipment needed in areas highly contaminated with radiation without the risks of radiation exposure.

Potential solutions packages should be routed to NITOPS@nnsa.doe.gov, LIA07.HOC@nrc.gov. Please Cc taskforce-1@state.gov.

Robots to the Rescue!

Monirobo Asahi Shimbun

From NewScientist article…

“The team working to contain the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant now includes a robot. The machine, known as Monirobo (“Monitoring Robot”), was on the scene today, according to the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun.

Monirobo is designed to operate at radiation levels too high for humans. The 1.5-metre robot runs on a pair of caterpillar tracks and has a manipulator arm for removing obstacles and collecting samples. Sensors include a radiation detector, 3D camera system and temperature and humidity sensors. It can be operated remotely from a distance of about a kilometre.”

Rescue Robots

To learn more about how robotic systems are being used in Japan and other disaster areas go to the Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue website.

Posted by Dr. Robin Murphy on March 21st, 2011 at 6:44 am UTC

To the best of my knowledge as of last night when I exchanged email with IRS members, robots from the members of the International Rescue System Institute have not been actually used but have been transported to areas where authorities are requesting help. Underwater assets appear to be of the most interest, as expected (see earlier blogs). Research focus in Japan has been primarily in ground robots. CRASAR remains on stand-by to complement IRS efforts, with Dr. Eric Steimle leading the effort of identifying the best small platform/highly capable sonars combinations for the situations being described to us and getting volunteers through our humanitarian Roboticists Without Borders program. In the micro-UAV front, Prof. Andreas Birk at Jacobs University in Bremen who has participated in field exercises with the German military has sent us his image fusion and mapping software to use with the CRASAR cache of AirRobots and possibly with the Draganflyers and ISENSYS platforms on call.  However, CRASAR remains on stand-by as there is no mission for us and the proximity of operations to the unstable nuclear situation.

I continue to get asked about nuclear response robots, so let me recap what I’m hearing about that. A monirobo has been on the site as well as teleoperated fire fighting robots for several days now- the fire fighting robots appear to have been used, I can’t tell about the monirobo.   iRobot has apparently sent some packbots as well- they are great for low-level radiation situations (or for high radiation die-in-place conditions)and much more agile that the traditional tank style monirobo. I haven’t seen or heard anything about the actual use of the packbots. I haven’t heard anything about Red Zone robots (Red Whitaker’s company that made the robots used for Chernobyl and Three Mile Island)- but usually those types of robots are custom made after the fact.

Related articles:

Where are the robots in Japan’s nuclear crisis?

Robot Helicopters Could Be Headed for Japan

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