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Japanese Robots Await Call To Action

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the waiting-for-an-outbreak-of-destroy-all-humans dept.

Japan 50

Kyusaku Natsume writes with this excerpt from a Kyodo News report on the robots Japan has available on standby to work at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi plant: "Japanese robots designed for heavy lifting and data collection have been prepared for deployment at irradiated reactor buildings of the Fukushima No.1 nuclear power station, where US-made robots have already taken radiation and temperature readings as well as visual images at the crippled facility via remote control. ... Enryu (rescue dragon) was developed in the aftermath of the magnitude-7.3 Great Hanshin Earthquake that hit the Kobe area in 1995. Designed to engage in rescue work, the remote-controlled robot has two arms that can lift objects up to 100 kg. It has 'undergone training' at the Kitakyushu municipal fire department in Fukuoka Prefecture."

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Skynet (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35918798)

Skynet!

No you idiot, wrong genere (1)

Lead Butthead (321013) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919190)

I want my Gundam [wikimedia.org] ...

Re:No you idiot, wrong genere (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 3 years ago | (#35923346)

A lot of people's personal items are still in tack, but under a lot of debris. I think it might be a nice gesture if a couple of extra robots were built so as to help clean up in the cities that were affected by the earthquake. And I know that supporters of Skynet aren't going to appreciate this; but after the cities are cleaned up, maybe some of those T1000's could be hired to do things like collect the garbage, maintain the parks; and the one thing I think ALL Japanese people would appreciate, "answer tourist's dumb questions; repeatedly."

And thus a new nation was created, 01 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35918822)

May God have mercy on all forms of intelligence.

Rise up... (0)

davester666 (731373) | more than 3 years ago | (#35918828)

Rise up...and attack our nuclear overlords!

Why now? (2)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 3 years ago | (#35918842)

Why don't they wait another six months or so? What's the rush?

Re:Why now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35918872)

Why don't they wait another six months or so? What's the rush?

Sarcasm?? You know, sarcasm doesn't come across the Interwebs very reliably.

Re:Why now? (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 3 years ago | (#35918958)

It seems to have come across just fine, if you knew to ask that question....

Re:Why now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35918920)

More importantly - why US robots? Don't get me wrong, as an American and a nerd I'll happily be one of the first to toot our technological horn - but we all know the Japanese are WAY ahead of us in the field of robotics - did the nuclear-capable mech-warrior just need some finishing touches or something?

Re:Why now? (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919044)

The Japanese are way ahead of us in developing robots that mimic humans, but you don't send a sex-bot to do an industrial robot's job!

As for why they are hesitant to send in the bots, I suspect once they are used to clean up Fukushima, the bots themselves are considered nuclear waste, no?

Re:Why now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35925730)

No, the robots would not be nuclear waste. You can wash them off.

Th beauty of radioactive contamination is you can very easily find out the amount of radioactive contamination you have. This is why you see pictures of people screened with this plastic-covered detectors - those are special beta radiation detectors hence they have to be very close to the person being screened and have very thin measurement window. They are also very accurate and if you are screened by them you can be 100% certain you are in no danger. And they they detect something, you can wash your skin off with some water and re-test.

Now, if this was chemical contamination, the amount of contamination would be impossible to determine unless it is causing acute signs.

Didn't you read the news this week? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919994)

"Japanese Robots Await Call To Action"
By whom? SKYNET of course

What took so long? (2)

ghetto2ivy (1228580) | more than 3 years ago | (#35918908)

Seriously. Does anyone know? I was really surprised that much of the work the plant workers (police, firemen, and military) were doing was not replaced by robots after a few days -- while there were technical jobs that surely called for specialized workers onsite, holding a hose to spray water or flying over the site, seem like tasks where humans need not have been exposed and robots/drones could help. Also any stories of robots being deployed for search and rescue?

Re:What took so long? (5, Informative)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 3 years ago | (#35918996)

TFA discusses that they're not sure how well it will operate in an environment with radiation present (it does no good if it stops working in the middle of the plant because the electronics got zapped). It sounds like they haven't figured out all the logistics about keeping it from spreading radioactive materials around, either. (Presumably it needs to come out of the plant at some point, if only for refueling/maintenance).

Re:What took so long? (4, Insightful)

Kyusaku Natsume (1098) | more than 3 years ago | (#35920334)

For example, they could find the same troubles than the guys at Sandia labs trying to fix a stuck source of radiation with a M2 robot:
http://www.physorg.com/news9093.html [physorg.com]

Having random plastic parts of your robot melting because they are not good to use inside a gamma ray oven is really bad. That electronics need radiation shielding is a know problem, but the performance of the rest of the pieces of equipment is something that they would know until they test it in the field or in a radiation test chamber.

Re:What took so long? (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919016)

Robots die from radiation faster than humans do.

What took so long?-Death. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919062)

But not as horrible a death.

Re:What took so long?-Death. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919204)

That's what you think. But millions of integrated circuits are screaming every second!

Re:What took so long?-Death. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919234)

Yes may be they can help to reduce the radiation from nuclear power station.

Nifty tips [stockvidya.co.cc]

Re:What took so long? (1)

rmstar (114746) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919622)

The reason it took so long was that they weren't prepared. All the things they had to think through to use a robot in these circumstances - nobody had thought about it! All the logistics, all the money, permits, etc. weren't even halfway ready. Amazing, isn't it? That's how an industry in the hands of the Titanic syndrome looks like.

There isn't any research in how to react to such an "eventuality", because the industry doesn't want to know. It is just not supposed to happen.

Re:What took so long? (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919664)

Why would they prepare? As long as everything runs smoothly, they rake in the cash. As soon as anything goes wrong, well, there's always the taxpayer. And why would they risk losing a costly robot when you can throw away human lives?

Re:What took so long? (4, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#35920444)

Amazing, isn't it?

Only to someone who doesn't have a clue what's going on. Every time we get one of these superficial stories that talks about some minor goof up in the Fukushima recovery/clean up, we get drama from the armchair engineers who remain eager to second guess things. My suspicion is that these guys have been showered with offers of robotic support from all over the world. They'll just have to test this stuff and see what works and what doesn't.

The thing is, the accident is over. Perhaps it will amount to something significant, but that hasn't happened yet. What they're doing now is radioactivity containment and repair of the systems for cooling the cores.

There isn't any research in how to react to such an "eventuality", because the industry doesn't want to know. It is just not supposed to happen.

This is the research. Learn by doing. People seem to ignore that there has been perhaps three other accidents comparable to Fukushima in the history of civilian power generation (as opposed to experimental reactors and military power). None of those accidents have much in common with Fukushima (all three were heavy on human operator error and light on magnitude 9 earthquakes).

And when you have accidents that rare, what do you do? Make your own accidents? That's what they did with Chernobyl, after all.

That's how an industry in the hands of the Titanic syndrome looks like.

And clueless person bases their perception of "an industry" on a crap movie? Say it ain't so!

Re:What took so long? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35920692)

Surely you know that the Titanic was a real ship, it had design flaws, it was operated in an unsafe manner, it sank, killed lots passengers due to a lack of life boats? And that none of this is James Cameron's fault? No?

Nice troll though, I think I fell for it...

Re:What took so long? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#35920758)

Surely you know that the Titanic was a real ship, it had design flaws, it was operated in an unsafe manner, it sank, killed lots passengers due to a lack of life boats? And that none of this is James Cameron's fault? No?

So what? We figured out why it sank and why so many people died. Nobody in the developed world does it that way any more. Among other things, that's a key missing lesson for anyone who uses the phrase "Titanic syndrome." Namely, that for the real life Titanic, we learned from the accident and used that knowledge to save lives.

Re:What took so long? (1)

rmstar (114746) | more than 3 years ago | (#35921898)

The thing is, the accident is over. Perhaps it will amount to something significant, but that hasn't happened yet.

Please confirm: you are saying nothing happened?

This is the research. Learn by doing. People seem to ignore that there has been perhaps three other accidents comparable to Fukushima in the history of civilian power generation (as opposed to experimental reactors and military power). None of those accidents have much in common with Fukushima (all three were heavy on human operator error and light on magnitude 9 earthquakes).

And when you have accidents that rare, what do you do? Make your own accidents? That's what they did with Chernobyl, after all.

At the very least, you make some plans beforehand. Have radiation hardened heavy machinery ready for when you have the trouble. Run simulations, etc. So, no. Learning by doing doesn't cut it at all. It is very clear that there were no plans whatsoever for a contingency like this, and that is a mayor scandal. Not that it comes as a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention to the way the nuclear industry works. There weren't any plans the three or so last times, and by the looks of it, there won't be any plans the next time either.

I don't understand the kind of mentality you have. I mean, there is a pretty big permanent evacuation zone around that reactor, and you still claim nothing significant happened. Why are you so cruel and ignorant? Why do you value this technology so much higher than the fate of people?

Re:What took so long? (2)

Stellian (673475) | more than 3 years ago | (#35922514)

you are saying nothing happened?

I'd say that's fairly accurate - nothing compared to the hype and panic at least. No one died from radiation sickness. There was a single worker who died after being hit by a crane, but that's an industrial accident and it's not correlated with the nuclear nature of the plant; if you hit a gas-powered plant, hydroelectric dam or huge wind farm with a 9.0 earthquake + tsunami and you can also expect casualties. As it turns out, it was much safer to be inside the nuclear plant than on the beach when the tsunami hit.
There were also two workers who received a dangerous radiation level (they recovered), and have a higher cancer risk with a few percentage higher than the average guy. Assuming they do die of cancer in the next 10-20 years (and that's fairly unlikely) we`re still looking exceptionally good compared with the tens of thousands of victims of the tsunami.

The bulk of the radiation was released as:
- airborne gases during the hydrogen explosions
- activated water, dumped into sea

The activated water quickly dilutes to background radiation level when dissolved in the vastness of the ocean. The lack of radioactive dust means that the exclusion zone is temporary and there will be little permanent soil or groundwater contamination, unlike Chernobyl. The bulk of radiation was released as Iodine-131 which halves it's radiation output every 8 days. And that means a 10.000 fold reduction after 3 months. Which further means that once the exclusion zone is dropped (in about 6 months), there will be probably no significant danger to live near the plant (but that further depends on the radioactive Strontium and Cesium levels, which depend on the weather and soil chemistry, so it's a bit early to speculate).

Sorry, no mutants to see here, move along...

Re:What took so long? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#35924076)

Please confirm: you are saying nothing happened?

I said nothing significant happened.Obviously, that is an opinion, but Stellian, who also replied to your article, lays out the argument [slashdot.org] . The accident hasn't caused a significant number of casualties, the radioactive contamination hasn't been released in a particularly dangerous form or dispersed very far. And at worst, it's an INES 6 event, which hasn't killed anyone through radioactive poisoning, masquerading politically as an INES 7 event.

Re:What took so long? (1)

rmstar (114746) | more than 3 years ago | (#35927526)

Please confirm: you are saying nothing happened?

I said nothing significant happened.Obviously, that is an opinion

A formidable one, in my view. What would have to happen before you consider it significant? Tokyo deserted? Or can it be a little less?

What you and stellian do is handpick the best spin you can find and even downplay that. It is actually amazing to watch, but does not really improve any confidence in the technology.

Re:What took so long? (1)

uninformedLuddite (1334899) | more than 3 years ago | (#35927214)

And when you have accidents that rare, what do you do? Make your own accidents? That's what they did with Chernobyl, after all.

They made an accident? I think we can lay the blame for Chernobyl at the feet of the USA. As well as ABSOLUTELY ALL of the world's problems.

Re:What took so long? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35924332)

The latest gen of Japanese andys were all wired to think they are humans and at risk of radiation exposure should they enter the evacuation zone; none could be convinced to go near the plant. After the hasty rewrite of the andys' life scripts to eliminate any fear of radioactivity, even at the lowest tolerable resolution the synthesis of new memories took about a month, hindered by rolling blackouts and cable damage leaving many of the purpose built synth farms off the grid.

Decapitalization Kills (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35918930)

So like many governments around the world the government of Japan found investing in infrastructure "too expensive." Unfortunately the infrastructure they couldn't be assed to spend money on were robots to clean up after a meltdown. Adding an extra dose of irony the plant in question is an old reactor design which was "too expensive" to retire and replace. Japan's newer plants all came to a cold shutdown after the quake.

And yes, in this case decapitalization actually did kill. If the reactors at Di-ichi had been replaced by newer designs there is a good chance that the two workers killed by the Tsunami would not have needed to race the wave to make repairs.

Re:Decapitalization Kills (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919172)

Since you're AC I won't burn a mod point to mark you troll. But really, turn off the computer and pick up a book. Nothing good is rubbing off on you from the Internet and you're not making a positive contribution to it.

Re:Decapitalization Kills (1)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919328)

Nothing good is rubbing off on you from the Internet and you're not making a positive contribution to it.

And yet nothing good has come from your post. You didn't explain in what way the OP was wrong. You didn't offer an alternate theory. You just said for him/her to go away.

The exchange of ideas is the second best thing about the internet. The OP was doing just that. It doesn't have to be an idea that you agree with, because that gives you the opportunity to examine the flaws and raise other ideas for further discussion. It might even make you think.

You should try it some time.

Re:Decapitalization Kills (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#35920484)

So like many governments around the world the government of Japan found investing in infrastructure "too expensive."

So we'll tap your ample bank account the next time Japan needs to upgrade its nuclear plants? Where do you think the money will come from? There's way too many economically ignorant people who think Other Peoples' Money is free and that all we need to do to fix something is spend more OPM on it.

Re:Decapitalization Kills (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#35922018)

The problem with your notion is that there are people getting rich running these companies poorly, and other people making money off their running them poorly (investors.) And neither the people running the companies poorly nor the investors tend to bear the responsibility for what is done with the investors' money.

Here in my part of the world Pacific Bell squandered money earmarked for infrastructure without actually improving it more than was absolutely necessary to provide government mandated minimum service limits, which basically means you can make scratchy, shitty voice calls, except in areas which were lucrative to improve. Meanwhile PG&E has done the same and not long ago we had a gas main explode in an area which PG&E had marked for further monitoring and service, and then done neither monitoring nor service. People being what they are, I can only imagine the same is true in Japan. You can't tell me that a privileged few didn't profit from making the idiot decision to split Japan's power grid in two in the first place, either. I would bet almost any amount of money that someone or someones has profited greatly from simply not updating Japan's infrastructure. It's true here, why not there? My perception is that Japan set out to learn all they could from us after WWII.

Re:Decapitalization Kills (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#35923970)

Here in my part of the world Pacific Bell squandered money earmarked for infrastructure without actually improving it more than was absolutely necessary to provide government mandated minimum service limits

For our information, he's talking about California (which contains the complete service area [nfwf.org] of PG&E), which is working hard to become yet another third world shithole. So why are you complaining when Pacific Bell does what it is paid to do? Don't put those incentives in place and Pac Bell won't do them. Common sense really.

Meanwhile PG&E has done the same and not long ago we had a gas main explode in an area which PG&E had marked for further monitoring and service, and then done neither monitoring nor service.

I'm so surprised when a business doesn't do stuff that's not in its interests to do. In a place like California, monitoring and service increases your liability in case of accident.

I was going to say something comforting about nuclear power. But where you live, you probably shouldn't have a technology that dangerous especially with the incentives and disincentives that California provides. So sure, get rid of those nuclear plants. You probably don't have a society that can responsibly run one.

People being what they are, I can only imagine the same is true in Japan. You can't tell me that a privileged few didn't profit from making the idiot decision to split Japan's power grid in two in the first place, either. I would bet almost any amount of money that someone or someones has profited greatly from simply not updating Japan's infrastructure. It's true here, why not there? My perception is that Japan set out to learn all they could from us after WWII.

Maybe you should read up on what caused the power line split [wired.com] . Basically, it started that way in the late 19th Century because one side used European systems and the other used US. It's just an example of how long term standards can persist even when it's clear that full adoption of one standard would be better.

My perception is that Japan set out to learn all they could from us after WWII.

That's been true since around 1853, when the US forced Japan to trade with the rest of the world. Japan's progress since that time has been remarkable. But Japan is not California. While they do have serious problems dating from their Keynesian-like attempts to recover from their serious recession of 1990, they don't have the Californian melodrama that comes about when politics mixes with business.

You know it's bad when... (1, Flamebait)

mikeroySoft (1659329) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919110)

... Japan is enlisting US-made robots to help

who woul have thought... (1)

tchristney (133268) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919152)

... that a nation that has robot toilets would take this long to think of using robots for this job. Although to be fair, it never crossed my mind either, and I've spent the last 5 years trying to convince my wife that a roomba is actually a good idea.

Re:who woul have thought... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919252)

a roomba isnt a good idea. it has no RPS. get a neato robotics unit instead.

Re:who woul have thought... (1)

seven of five (578993) | more than 3 years ago | (#35920864)

why would a robot need a toilet?

amazon down too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919436)

skynet awakens.

Grapples and trucks (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919480)

Actually, there are huge remote controlled grapples and trucks on site and they have been there for weeks already, carting away debris. The problem is that they don't look like robots. They look just like grapples and trucks carting away debris...

Re:Grapples and trucks (2)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919518)

Cue instant feeling of terror having a truck driving towards you and you suddenly notice the driver's seat is empty.

Re:Grapples and trucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35920080)

and yet, being where they are, you'd probably be more afraid of your geiger counter

So where is Hyoryu? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919988)

How can there be a symmetrical docking [youtu.be] without Hyoryu?

Let's hope the robot is hardened... (1)

elFisico (877213) | more than 3 years ago | (#35921442)

Let's hope the robot is hardened against ionizing radiation. Otherwise instead of "Hasta la vista, baby" it's more like "Dave, my mind is going..."

$5 says (1)

Deliveranc3 (629997) | more than 3 years ago | (#35923412)

They're not robots, but remote controlled machines.

Japanese robots for Fukushima (1)

etudiant (45264) | more than 3 years ago | (#35925756)

It is indicative of the gravity of the situation that the Japanese have not accepted any of the offers of radiation hardened robots designed for nuclear incidents such as this.
The most logical explanation is that the situation is known to be impossible, so why accept foreign robots and the obligations that go with them just to be further embarrassed.
No work can be done in the facility until the radioactive lake in the plant, currently about 1300x80x20 ft is drained, which will not be until year end at best. After all, no one has swimming robots for nuclear cleanup.
So it is a waste of time to fulminate about the slow cleanup, because it is paced by the need to build holding tanks and a big radioactive water treatment facility, expected to start work by the end of May.

Tetsuwan Atom on standby (1)

scharkalvin (72228) | more than 3 years ago | (#35928350)

just in case......

This is how the Robot Rebellion starts (1)

Benfea (1365845) | more than 3 years ago | (#35932360)

Obviously, the robots want to set up their base of operations in a place humans fear to tread.
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