Feb. 21 - Japanese companies cooperate to design robots to help decommission the quake-damaged Fukushima nuclear plant. Sarah Sheffer reports.
Japanese developers say applied robotics could help to eventually end the nuclear crisis in Fukushima. Nine teams came together to unveil their latest projects on Wednesday. A robotic suit, which enables the wearer to lift up to 60 kilogrammes, was among the developments. The power suit, presented by Cyberdyne, was originally invented to assist Japan's fast-growing elderly population. But the Fukushima accident has opened the way for new uses. The disaster version of the suit features body plates to protect the wearer from gamma rays, sensors to monitor vital signs, and an air-conditioning system. Chiba University and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries showed off their collaborative effort-- a small mobility robot operated remotely that can provide views from various angles. It helped a larget robatic arm to open a valve of a high pressure pipe. And an amphibious mobility robot, co-developed by Toshiba, can conduct search and observation operations inside water-filled reactor buildings. The Japanese government says it will take two to three decades to fully decommission the station.