Meet “Rosemary” – a new emergency response robot prototype developed by the Future Robotics Technology Center for work at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant in northern Japan, which was ravaged by the earthquake and tsunami last year. After the disaster, foreign robots from the US were the first to explore the crippled nuclear facility. Now, Japanese researchers have stepped up and developed a cutting-edge robot of their own that will operate in areas that are contaminated by radiation.
Recently demonstrated in central Tokyo, the robot has four extended feet that swivel in order to help it climb over steep stairs and obstacles. It can ascend at angles over 60 degrees and can carry instruments and other payload weighing up to 60 kilograms (132 pounds). It uses an on-board camera and a laser range finder to map its environment, conveying the data back to the computer in real-time.
“We tested the robot’s various electronic components using an exposure test,” said Takeshi Nishimura, a researcher at the Future Robotics Technology Center. “It can be used without any additional shielding or protection.”
The robot will be sent to Fukushima in the next few months, he added. It is the successor to a robot from the center that was originally developed for disasters in subways, but it was put to use at the nuclear plant.