Japan has a new worker to help measure and test the radiation at the Fukushima Daichi nuclear plant – and it happens to be a robot named Monirobo. Short for “Monitoring Robot,” the robot can safely test radiation levels that are too dangerous for humans amidst the nuclear plant’s meltdown. Japan’s Nuclear Safety Technology Centre originally developed the robot in 1999 when an incident at a Tokaimura nuclear plant claimed two lives.
The hefty Monirobo weighs in at around 1300 lbs, and operates on a set of caterpillar tracks that can only travel at around one and a half miles per hour. Its arm collects samples, while its body is covered with sensors that track radiation, temperature, and humidity, as well as a 3D camera system. Monirobo is also heavily armored, as the sensors and cameras are highly sensitive to radiation.
Thanks to the Red Monirobo, scientists can remain at a remote controlled distance of one kilometer away from the site while the robot collects samples and tests levels. A second robot, called Yellow Monirobo, is planned to go to work collecting dust samples and testing flammable gas in the coming days.
Photographs of the Fukushima Daichi Nuclear site are being piped in by Monirobo, as well as the unmanned Global Hawk Drone spy plane from the United States Airforce base in Guam, as the area is deemed too dangerous to fly over and is therefore a no fly zone.
Monirobos are helping keep Japanese scientists out of more danger and away from Fukushima’s radiation center. In the future, Monirobos could be deployed to permanently keep human workers away from the danger areas in nuclear power plants.
Via New Scientist