Robots venture where humans fear to tread. The ASTACO-SoRa developed by Hitachi is destined to roll into the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant next year to clean up radioactive and toxic rubble. The wirelessly-controlled machine is able to lift heavy loads of up to 150kg and, and at 98cm across with its arms tucked, it can work its way through tight spaces. Weighing 2.5 tons, the robot operates for 15 hours powered by a diesel engine.
In the wake of the Fukushima disaster, the Japanese robotics industry was criticized for not developing more practical robots to help deal with the cleanup. A year later, Hitachi’s ASTACO-SoRa will head into the nuclear plant to assist with recovery in 2013. Its arms have a span of 2.5 feet, and can be used for cutting and lifting up to 150 kg.
With the exception of a camera arm which reaches to 6.5 meters, tools can be exchanged via a work station. A laser sensor can help guide the robot through passages and monitor obstacles in its way. Unlike Mitsubishi’s MHI-MEISTeR, the ASTACO-SoRa cannot climb stairs and is only able of moving over objects 8cm high. On-board gauges read radiation levels, and the data is collected and stored at the operator’s station. Able to cruise at a speed of 1.6 mph, the robot is able to work for 15 hours on a diesel engine.