During Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster, emergency workers were often unable to get close to the site due to high levels of radiation. In order to combat this challenge in the future, the Toshiba Corporation has developed a tetrapod robot that is able to carry out investigative and recovery work in locations that are be too risky for people to enter, such as volcanic regions, major disaster zones or a nuclear accident sites.
The four-legged remote-controlled robot is equipped with a camera and dosimeter and is able to investigate sites such as a damaged nuclear power plants. The robot’s legs have been designed with multiple joints so that it is able to walk on uneven surfaces, avoid obstacles and climb stairs. All of this is controlled by a dedicated movement algorithm that allows the robots to enter areas that would be inaccessible to wheel-based robots or crawlers.
The robot, which weighs 65kg and is just over 3m in length, also comes with a folding arm that can release a companion smaller robot with a second mounted camera. This mini-bot can be launched from the main robot and positioned to take images of narrow places that may be too small for the main robot to enter. It is connected to the main robot by a cable. Unfortunately, the system’s battery only lasts for 2 hours, but it’s doubtless that Toshiba is working on a more powerful model.
In a statement describing their robotic rescue craft, Toshiba said that they would “continue research and development on capabilities and operation of the robot so as to enable it to position and install shielding, stop flows of water and remove obstacles.” Here’s hoping that the world will not need this rescue bot for a long while.