In the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the only things that can safely carry out necessary work at the site are robots. Japan was criticized for not deploying robots fast enough and then for spending time and money developing humanoid robots instead of those that could help at Fukushima. Now the clean up effort has a new robot joining the team, one that can both carry heavy loads and fit through tiny spaces, designed by Hitachi specifically for the task of cleaning up the failed nuclear power plant.
Gizmag reports, "The ASTACO-SoRa robot and its control station were developed by the subsidiaries Hitachi Engineering & Services and Hitachi Construction Machinery. The plan called for a robot powerful enough to lift 150 kg (330 pounds) in each arm, but thin enough to move through tight passages. Measuring 98 cm (3 feet, 2 inches) across with its arms tucked in, the robot is small enough to enter most areas."
The ASTACO-SoRa weighs 2.3 tons, operates at a speed of about 1.6 mph and can run for up to 15 hours. Its arms are eight feet long and can be equipped with a variety of tools for cutting and lifting that can be exchanged for different jobs.
The robot features a long camera arm that performs environmental surveys as the robot moves around as well as six on-board cameras that give off-site control board operators a full view of the robot's surroundings. Radiation sensors continually feed information to the control board for analysis.
You can see the robot performing various task in the videos below.