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U.S. sending robots to Japan to help with nuclear plant

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That is really great. I just wished they had come earlier.

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Nice to see that the Japanese are interested in American Robotics. First time for everything.

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They might have been better developing some of these types of radiation hardened robots instead of the unwanted ones to help the elderly ...

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Interesting,though how come Japanese robotics arent doing anything?

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Sounds like sending coal to Newcastle!

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Didn't Doraemon fix those reactors in an episode on TBS (or was it Fuji) last week?

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What's wrong with the Sony dog?

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Is this a blow to Japanese robotics? Japan image of useless gadgets is well alive...

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Japanese robot companies I know are afraid of the electronics being damaged by radiation, since they are not shielded. They don't want to take a risk that their robots might fail publicly. If you don't risk anything, how do you expect to make any progress?

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Japanese robots such as Asimo need a large programming team behind them each time they make a media appearance, and most of their actions and comments are highly scripted. They are also incapable of moving across anything but a totally smooth floor. Despite people saying they look like 'cute terminators' or other sci-fi robotics, they are very limited in function and capability. In short, they are useless!

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It is too late to get robots over here.What robot can cope with a core meltdown?It would just add to the radioactive slag! Contain the runoff and then bury them-Japan has an airforce.There are thousands of helicopters in Japan bury the them now!

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ahaha obviously Asimo and the other well known robots are suited for such terrain, conditions and yes also most are pre programmed or controlled wirelessly, as with most robots of today's current state of robotics. What 'AI' there is very limited also..

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*arent suited for such terrain and conditions

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Yap, did you see the "hi-tech" robots at Aichi expo in 2005? They put robots over there because people wanted to see robots, but they were just a little more than a mechanical toy with a choreography.

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"Workers at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi plant have been exposed to high levels of radiation and burned."

But fortunately this was not harmful to their health, according to TEPCO.

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Where are the Japanese robots, where was the decked out panic room at the plant. Water proof suits and shoes. Anything to help fix this fast and protect workers and us all, is needed.

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The Soviets had similar problems with military robots in Chernobyl (bomb disposal type), after a few minutes their circuitry failed due to radiation exposure. This has nothing to do with Japanese electronics being inferior, robots used in these conditions must be specifically made for the high radiation environment.

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@Foxie

For all we know, there may have been talks well beforehand to gain access to these robots. Or public information about them might not have freely available if there any defense concerns (some US defense related technology is restricted, even when not a weapon or part of a weapon, for example I think some low-light technology is not for sale outside of the US. This may also depend on the country and whether the US deem them a threat)

Based on the information, we can only speculate.

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For those criticizing Japanese robotics, um, they are not specialized for this kind of work. It appears that the cameras are particularly suspect to radiation - without them, they cannot be remotely controlled.

Are they useless? Any advances in robotics now brings the potential of them being more useful and mainstream in the future.

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The US Navy had to provide the freshwater for cooling. So I guess if the clowns in charge don't even have water, they certainly ain't gonna have robots.

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There is a good article in IEEE Spectrum magazine from March 22, 2011: "Can Japan Send In Robots To Fix Troubled Nuclear Reactors?" which explains well why the answer is "No". For me, the reasons are in the hardware (i.e., it's not radiation-tolerant), morphology of the bots (not robust enough in challenging terrains), and in the culture (e.g, Japanese bots have been most of the Japanese bots are designed for entertainment - with the intention to dance "bo", assume sumo postures, play musical instruments, play game (soccer), etc... Sadly, in Japan, most of the autonomous, robust, learning, and adapting robots are @ Universities in a phase of research projects only.

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When they talk about robots in this case i think you'll find they refer to remote control type cars, mini tracked vehicle type things with mechanical arms cameras etc on them, not like something that walks and does things as we would imagine.

Could be wrong though but......................

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All of the machines used to assemble cars in the automobile industry are "robots". We tend to mistakenly think of robots as having a human shape, and carrying out human-like motion. Couldn't the same companies that have developed robots for the auto industry begin to develop them for the nuclear industry? It won't solve the problem now, but we have to start looking at the future because nuclear energy isn't just going to go away because of this disaster.

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For those criticizing Japanese robotics, um, they are not specialized for this kind of work.

Yap, they are specialized on being cute

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It seems the Japanese should have spent less time developing companion robots for the lonely otaku and more time developing robots that actually have a purpose.

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Yap? Did you mean yup?

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Can yuou say "Domo arigato, Mr. Robotto."

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This is going to open a new chapter in Japanese robotics. Robots that can be actually used to do something useful or productive.

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Last week, the Japanese government refused French robots, which had to be sent back:

Immediately after the tsunami, a French firm with nuclear expertise shipped robots for use in Fukushima, a European nuclear expert said. The robots are built to withstand high radiation.

But Japan, arguably the country with the most advanced robotics industry, stopped them from arriving in Fukishima, saying such help could only come through government channels, said the expert who asked not to be identified so as not to appear critical of Japan in a moment of crisis.

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I thought Japan is the leader in robotics, so why do they have to send robots from the US? Seems to me that this sort of job is exactly what robots are needed for.

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titian:

" All of the machines used to assemble cars in the automobile industry are "robots". We tend to mistakenly think of robots as having a human shape, and carrying out human-like motion. Couldn't the same companies that have developed robots for the auto industry begin to develop them for the nuclear industry "

But also the consumer industry that has been making humanoid toys. Think about it: If you have a work environment for humans, and humans suddenly can´t go there anymore, a humanoid robot is exactly what you need to replace a human. And not some big industrial machine custom-designed for a specific purpose.

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All of the machines used to assemble cars in the automobile industry are "robots". We tend to mistakenly think of robots as having a human shape, and carrying out human-like motion.

Yes, I agree. However, in this context, I think there is a need for additional features of the robots, not pertinent to the car assembly ones:

a) autonomy (or partial one - e.g., remote control),

b) robust locomotion, especially in rough, challenging terrain,

c) intelligence - need to "think" what to do when dealing with a priori unknown or uncertain situation,

d) learning - ability to optimize their future actions based on their own past experience.

etc...

These features are similar to the ones of the real humans, and therefore (probably) we tend to assume humanoid robots in this situation.

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Japanese robots ( at least the ones they publicized ) can act and look " human "...............good for the porn industry. " Foreign " robots can do special tasks and the appearance be damned.

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DARPA Baby, want to see a real autonomous Robot? Google Big Dog by Boston Dynamic!!

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Has that vehicle with 62m long pumping arm sent by China arrived to Fukushima Daiichi plant yet? It is for pumping water to the damaged reactor. Also China has offered 1000 tons petrol and 1000 tons diesel to japan for free. They have departed from Dalian port yesterday.

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Sorry, the tonages of the petrol and diesel sent by China are 10000 tons each.

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@titan thanks for that article

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Now, can we get these U.S. robots to bring food to the overworked and underfed workers at the TEPCO plant in Fukushima? The conditions they are working under are inhumane and abhorrent.

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Japan robotto will play violin while american robot work. Goodo understanding

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I guess the Japanese way of thinking kept them from producing that kind of robot, like a taboo: building them would acknowledge that nuclear energy is not save!

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The Japanese have "robots" at the site. They are doing monitoring of radiation, temperature etc. in conditions far too extreme for long term human presence. The program to develop further robots was cut due to excessive belief in Japanese systems. Why don't they have cranes (would need helicopters with telescopic sights to help) to start clean up the reactors (they are a mess)? The longest mobile crane has a reach of 100 m but this Chinese concrete crane is only reaching 42m so there must be many cranes with pincers to help.

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oberst:

" Japanese robots ( at least the ones they publicized ) can act and look " human "...............good for the porn industry. " "

I don´t think they need love dolls now. More something like Terminator... something that can walk up stairs, push buttons, pull levers, turn cranks, that sort of thing.

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Are those MIT robots? MIT can solve any problem in the universe.

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I've been saying all along that robots ought to have been used at Daiichi, and I'm really glad that robots will be used now.

But, I, too, was under the impression that Japan is the leader in robotics, so what's with the U.S. sending robots to help at Daiichi?

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Where are the Japanese robots

The Japanese robots are doing all the important stuff like "dancing" on stages, bowing, and wheeling bentos out to old people in nursing homes.

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This topic makes a great premise for a anime. Get that GUNDAM working to clean up this mess!

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Maybe Japan simply do not know HOW to create robots for working in radiation contaminated environments

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True the Americans have spent billions of dollars on many forms of robots that can see in the dark, talk, complete rotating & such. Darn well amazing & a bit frightning when one reads about what they have not to mention their drones in the air that can do so much it is hard to believe.

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The US Navy had to provide the freshwater for cooling. So I guess if the clowns in charge don't even have water, they certainly ain't gonna have robots.

Fail once again.

From the MOD press conference

第一義的には、これまで発電所近傍の坂下ダムから取水してきていたので、今回もこれを早急にやると。ただし、災害の影響も受けて、本来の水量が確保されない可能性もありますので、それで今、お尋ねのような米国のバージ船を、坂下ダムから取水するものでは足りない部分を補給するということで、現在、横須賀から小名浜経由で現地へ曳航してくるということをやろうとしております

It basically states that the fresh waters are supplied from the dam near the plant. However just in case there is a problem with extracting the water from the dam, they asked the U.S. to supply fresh water via barge.

In essence, it's basically a precaution or abundance of caution.

Same thing with the robots, more or less. As other have mentioned, there are domestic robots in place for monitoring. But the robots the U.S. will send are back up for those along with the robots to assist in the "clean up" phase when the situation is more settled.

Sorry if this info spoils the "Japan refuses help" diatribe party.

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Nigelboy, thanks, but I can read japanese. Gotta love the language of Japanese bureaucrats, but the last part of the sentence indicates that attempts are currently (現在)being made to tow the water to the site from Yokosuka (location of big naval base)using a US barge or barges to make up for an insufficient amount of water.

This report seems a bit dated, as AP ran a photo of such a water-laden barge already being towed to Fukushima several days ago.

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But, I, too, was under the impression that Japan is the leader in robotics, so what's with the U.S. sending robots to help at Daiichi?

As many have said on this forum, there are many types of robots but as for being the "leader" in robotics, the U.S. has two robots tooling around on Mars. They were designed to work for 6 weeks but have been going for 7 years now.

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JeffLee

I don't think you understand me. The barge they are sending holds approximately 1,100 tons of water each. The holding tanks derived from the dam stores approximately 3,500 tons of water. The dam which the minister addressed holds 2,532,000 tons of water. Now go back and read the ministers statements once again.

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I thought Japan is the robot country of the world! Why do they have to get American ones?

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WiluB

Japan and US Robot development is in different areas/targets. Many of the US robots are designed with warfare, space exploration, etc in mind.

And, yes, japan has robots(from fire stations, bomb squads, etc) deployed already at Dai-ichi, etc but they are not equipped/designed for "hostile" environments as the american ones are.

Said that the american robot that is incoming also never had to perform in an environment as the current one so it is not guaranteed to succeed.

From what I heard the cameras are better shielded but not much was said about the rest.

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Sorry mistyped WilliB.

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I think we would like to see, "Reactor Cam".

What would be impressive is a crane placing a frame on top of the reactor, which the robots could work from and perhaps even move the fuel rods to a safe place or mend the roof.

I am glad we have robots on the scene. I think they have great use nowadays.

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Japanese robots are only capable of serving tea and bowing.

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Given that if the fuel rods are left alone in the reactor and start becoming so hot to cause the production of hydrogen, and due to the nature of the process that the rate of increase in temperature would be expected to increase significantly as the temperature rises; how long does a robot compute the time taken to go from hydrogen production at about 1500 degrees celcius in the reactor to a full meltdown?

When they claim they have not had a meltdown because of the level of radiation outside; are they taking into account that the hot hydrogen which exploded was able wind its way up along pipes and around corners whereas radiation gamma rays only travel in a straight line? Are they also taking into account the escaping hydrogen also suggests the reactors have a vent for both steam and pressure? Are they taking into account that like with gunpowder a small loose pile of it does little more than fizz, but in a close knit tube it is as a firework?

I believe the current main threat is the radioactive water and the fuel in storage, as I believe the four active reactors have already had their meltdowns.

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