The Fukushima nuclear disaster that hit Japan last year certainly raised many an eyebrow when Japan themselves had to turn to the US for nuclear disaster-ready robots so that these can be used to aid in the stabilization of the crippled nuclear plant. I guess the folks over at Japan must have figured out that they should be prepared for such an event (hopefully it won’t happen again though) down the road, and has enlisted the help of Toshiba to come up with a totally new robot that was specially designed to function in nuclear emergencies. This particular quadruped robot from Toshiba is nowhere near the technological excellence of what we see in Star Wars and Star Trek, but it does come with half a dozen cameras as well as a dosimeter so that it can measure radiation, and can even be controlled remotely, so that emergency workers are able to assess the kind of damages which occur at a nuclear site without endangering themselves.
This Toshiba four-legged robot is capable of walking up and down stairs, but Toshiba decided that there is wisdom in the adage “safety in numbers”, and have paired it up with a small camera-equipped platform vehicle which can be deployed from the robot’s base in order to snap photographs in narrow, hard-to-reach areas. The 143-pound robot has a battery life of up to 2 hours, while the smaller unit has a one hour runtime. [Press Release (Japanease)]