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US To Send Radiation-Hardened Robots To Japan

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the nuke-resistant dept.

Japan 183

CWmike writes "The United States is sending specialized robots to Japan to help officials there get control of the Fukushima nuclear power plants damaged in this month's devastating earthquake and tsunami. Dr. Peter Lyons, an acting assistant secretary for nuclear energy with the DoE, said the robots, which could be sent into areas that would be dangerous for humans to enter because of high radiation levels, could begin to give officials readings on the environment inside the nuclear power plants. Lyons told the US Senate on Tuesday, 'We are moving expeditiously to ship not only the robots but also operators who perhaps will be used to train Japanese operators. We don't know yet how close the operators will need to be to the site.' Asked about getting information about the state of the damaged reactors, Lyons said the robots could provide some information. 'Certainly not all we need, but some,' he said."

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Mark this one for the history books, folks. (5, Funny)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 3 years ago | (#35670518)

How about that. The US is sending robots to Japan. For our next trick, we will sell coal to Newcastle.

Re:Mark this one for the history books, folks. (0)

AndyAndyAndyAndy (967043) | more than 3 years ago | (#35670584)

And some time from now, they will begin selling their own robots to America, only with better efficiency and higher standards.
Yes, I made a Detroit joke.

What? It's not like there's anyone left there to feel bad!

Big, ugly robots most likely. (1)

dstyle5 (702493) | more than 3 years ago | (#35670804)

The Japanese are focused on making more elegant, precise, nimble & human-like robots, where as the US is more focused on more bulky, industrial, people-killing robots, that can take a beating and still work. At least that is the arbitrary opinion I've formed from mass media consumption.

Re:Big, ugly robots most likely. (3, Funny)

hey! (33014) | more than 3 years ago | (#35670882)

Hey, I think I saw that one. That's the one where the ugly garbage cleaning robot and the elegant, nimble robot fall in love.

Re:Big, ugly robots most likely. (1)

frosty_tsm (933163) | more than 3 years ago | (#35670968)

Hey, I think I saw that one. That's the one where the ugly garbage cleaning robot and the elegant, nimble robot fall in love.

And there was not a word of English (except the occasional one spoken by fat people)?

Re:Big, ugly robots most likely. (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 3 years ago | (#35671012)

Hey, I think I saw that one. That's the one where the ugly garbage cleaning robot and the elegant, nimble robot fall in love.

And there was not a word of English (except the occasional one spoken by fat people)?

Yeah, but let's see that little garbage cleaning robot, or the cute little robot clean that mess up. This calls for robotic Caterpillar tractors, backhoes, graders and probably a cute little robotic coffee machine they can all hit on in the break room.

Re:Big, ugly robots most likely. (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35671442)

close [wordpress.com]

Re:Big, ugly robots most likely. (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35670954)

Sure, we can make robots to clean up nuclear waste... but can we make break dancing robots [boingboing.net] ???

Re:Big, ugly robots most likely. (1)

metalgamer84 (1916754) | more than 3 years ago | (#35671174)

That was easily the greatest thing I have seen on the Internet all week. Thank you for the awesome.

Re:Big, ugly robots most likely. (1)

multipartmixed (163409) | more than 3 years ago | (#35671072)

That's because American robots watch too much TV and eat french fries instead of rice.

Re:Big, ugly robots most likely. (1)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 3 years ago | (#35671150)

That's because American robots watch too much TV and eat french fries instead of rice.

Sumo wrestlers eat rice too.

Re:Mark this one for the history books, folks. (2)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 3 years ago | (#35670814)

But US robots can do more than just dance, they can sing badly, too !

Just the thing for the next big craze from the Land of the Rising Fun - Roboioke!

Re:Mark this one for the history books, folks. (3, Informative)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 3 years ago | (#35670848)

These are radiation hardened industrial robots. Not grandma diaper changing, go playing, receptionist robots.

The iRobot 710 Warrior [irobot.com] isn't interested in managing your manga collection or cooking you ramen noodles.

iRobot also sent a 510 packbot. [irobot.com] In fact, the 710 can carry 510 packbots on its back and deploy they through openings (windows, holes, etc). A little Skynety, but fun.

Re:Mark this one for the history books, folks. (1)

rbollinger (1922546) | more than 3 years ago | (#35671406)

I don't have any experience with the 710 Warrior, but I have used the 510 packbot, and it’s quite neat. It is easy for just about anyone to control, and with a little bit of practice you can do some pretty cool maneuvers. The claw and arm are fairly strong (5-15lbs depending on how far the arm is extended), but they are designed more for probing than doing any heavy lifting. My biggest concern is that we always used these robots in pretty close proximity to the operator. They were made for handling hazardous materials and unexploded ordinance, so the operator was close but in a protected area. Radiation is a whole different beast. The 510 I used couldn't go too far beyond a hundred meters before you begin to lose control and video feed.

Re:Mark this one for the history books, folks. (1)

rbollinger (1922546) | more than 3 years ago | (#35671446)

Oh, and as an aside, the Control Units are linux based :)

Re:Mark this one for the history books, folks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35671582)

The iRobot 710 Warrior [irobot.com] isn't interested in managing your manga collection or cooking you ramen noodles.

...Is it interested in being a glorified RC car?

Yeah, sorry. Japan still wins, by virtue of their creepy not-quite-human receptionist robots.

Re:Mark this one for the history books, folks. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35670854)

The Tyrell Corporation [wikipedia.org] is the only one that builds these.

Seriously, if they'd had a reliable backup diesel generator we wouldn't have these problems in the first place.

Re:Mark this one for the history books, folks. (2)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 3 years ago | (#35671224)

Seriously, if they'd had a reliable backup diesel generator we wouldn't have these problems in the first place.

Fry: "Oh, the fools! If only they'd built it with six thousand and one hulls! When will they learn?"

It's pretty easy to sit back and do an armchair analysis of the situation after the shit has already hit the fan. The flooding caused by the tsunami knocked those generators offline. I live in an area that's prone to flooding and it's harder than you think to keep even a small generator out of harm's way when the water level starts rising.

Re:Mark this one for the history books, folks. (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35671486)

Did they have no method of keeping a spare that's completely water tight? Obviously they couldn't run it like that, but it would've taken a lot less time to get one that was in a sealed container unpacked than what it took them to connect a cord to a different facility.

When a component is that important it's foolhardy to have only one backup. Having three or four is better. I know the building I used to work security at had 3 generators each one was enough to power a small city for a several hours.

Store backup generators off sites ... (2)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#35671510)

Seriously, if they'd had a reliable backup diesel generator we wouldn't have these problems in the first place.

It's pretty easy to sit back and do an armchair analysis of the situation after the shit has already hit the fan.

Its not quite armchair analysis when its standard operating procedure at other sites.

The flooding caused by the tsunami knocked those generators offline. I live in an area that's prone to flooding and it's harder than you think to keep even a small generator out of harm's way when the water level starts rising.

And in southern california a power plant on the coast has backup generators in storage farther inland on higher ground. I'm not saying the so cal plant is necessarily better designed or prepared, I'm am just arguing against the armchair claim on this particular backup generator point.

Re:Mark this one for the history books, folks. (2)

spopepro (1302967) | more than 3 years ago | (#35670920)

When I was doing some stuff at Lawrence Livermore Labs in the mid 1990s there was a very active group working on radiation and harsh environment resistant robots. They were boring, but highly functional, which is why no one paid any attention from the outside. While I haven't kept up on their work, I am confident that there are few labs in the world that have robots for this job better and more advanced than the DOE devices. They do, of course, have to plan for not only power reactor problems but also our aging weapons stockpile.

Re:Mark this one for the history books, folks. (1)

scharkalvin (72228) | more than 3 years ago | (#35671228)

Osmau Tezuka would be rolling over in his grave if he heard this.....

I think I speak for everyone when I say.. (1)

wjlafrance (1974820) | more than 3 years ago | (#35670530)

I welcome our robot overlords, if they can help keep us safe.

Re:I think I speak for everyone when I say.. (0)

rogueippacket (1977626) | more than 3 years ago | (#35671468)

Someone famous once said "He who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security."
Just as relevant then as it is now.

Here's a good question... (2, Interesting)

rsilvergun (571051) | more than 3 years ago | (#35670540)

Why wasn't this done sooner? And while I'm asking, how come we didn't fly in power generators to keep the pumps running before things started to melt?

Oh wait, that would cost money, and the people with the money can just move. Didn't Marx write something about that? Oh well, all anybody can remember about him is that some dictator or another used his books for rhetoric + free advertising.

Re:Here's a good question... (1)

smelch (1988698) | more than 3 years ago | (#35670628)

What the fuck is wrong with you? What on Earth does this have to do with money? I'm pretty sure nobody gives a shit about the money of sending robots over, unless you think they were just built now, in which case your "why not sooner" has an answer. Otherwise, it was probably because they didn't think they had a need for them. As a situation evolves, so do the potential solutions. But that doesn't back up your anti-capitalism.

Re:Here's a good question... (0)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35670806)

Money is the precise answer to "why not sooner". Obviously these machines could have been built in anticipation of this. But they decided cocaine and hookers are a better investment.

Re:Here's a good question... (1)

AndyAndyAndyAndy (967043) | more than 3 years ago | (#35670634)

I bet it had a lot less to do with class economics and much more to do with "trusting the Japanese to have a handle on things."
Remember, we did send them something [google.com] on the day-of, according to Sec. Clinton... who knows what it was, though.

Re:Here's a good question... (1)

bolthole (122186) | more than 3 years ago | (#35670678)

It wasnt so much us trusting them. as them being willing to accept help.

They weren't willing to accept help, from what I read.
Now they have have majorly crippled their own country, out of pride.

Re:Here's a good question... (1)

Steve Blake (13873) | more than 3 years ago | (#35671280)

Time to send in Spock.

Re:Here's a good question... (4, Informative)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#35670672)

Other American robots were already sent, or it was at least reported, a week ago.

http://articles.cnn.com/2011-03-23/tech/robots.japan.relief_1_packbot-irobot-ground-zero?_s=PM:TECH [cnn.com]

The reason why this or that wasn't done sooner is because the Japanese didn't ask for it, and despite what you may think about American foreign policy, the US isn't just going to muscle into an internal Japanese matter and tell a Japanese utility company what to do.

Just flying power generators in wouldn't help once they ran out of fuel, thats part of the problem at Fukushima, the backup generators ran out of fuel.

Re:Here's a good question... (1)

Marillion (33728) | more than 3 years ago | (#35670958)

My understanding, which could be quite flawed, is they had Diesel generators which failed to start due to the tsunami floodwaters flooding them out and then the battery backup failed once the charge depleted.

Re:Here's a good question... (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#35671090)

I've read similar, diesels failed and all the battery backups failed over time.

It really was the worst case scenario coupled with the transportation infrastructure failing from the 9.0 earthquake.

Re:Here's a good question... (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35671498)

...the US isn't just going to muscle into an internal Japanese matter and tell a Japanese utility company what to do..

The radiation is no longer an "internal" matter. I would justify a robot airdrop (so to speak) here more than dropping bombs on Libya. Only one presents a real threat

Re:Here's a good question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35670696)

Way not to make any research ? Hardened robots were proposed by France (and maybe the US) since the first few days of the accident. Japanese refused them officially because they weren't useful enough for their situation.

Re:Here's a good question... (1)

painandgreed (692585) | more than 3 years ago | (#35670726)

Why wasn't this done sooner?

Because in the real world, things take time. I'm sure as soon as this happened balls were rolling and it has just now got to a point where the news is bothering to talk about it

And while I'm asking, how come we didn't fly in power generators to keep the pumps running before things started to melt?

If that's all it took, I'm sure we would have. Hell, they could have just flown them in from someplace in Japan. For that matter they did but their wasn't a way to patch them into the system because something capable of carrying that sort of voltage and current isn't something you just cut and crimp. Thing is that it was a lot more than just no power. They've got power now and still having issues. I don't think it was just a case of a swamped power plant and no grid. The tsunami basically took out a large part of the plant, pumps were damaged, pipes broken, electronics fried, valves bent, and the place seems to be generally shot to hell.

Car analogy: This wasn't a case of getting a car that had run out of fuel more gas to keep the guys from having to push it to the shop, this a case of car that had just been totaled in a wreck in which the engine was ruined, the gas tank ruptured, and the electrical harness ripped out to the shop. At that point the analgy sort of breaks down because you just don't throw a nuclear power plant onto a flatbed.

Re:Here's a good question... (1)

tonywong (96839) | more than 3 years ago | (#35670966)

Because the management of the power utility consistently underestimated the crisis and didn't want to 'needlessly' alarm people.

Crisis management is the opposite of normal management and these guys don't understand that. Well, maybe not until now.

Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35670552)

That did not take long at all. Not at all.

Ice to Antarctica (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | more than 3 years ago | (#35670568)

Sounds about like shipping ice to Antarctica. Surely all their robotics R&D didn't go to violin playing, grandma bathing, ramen making, Godzilla fighting bots? Am I missing something?

Re:Ice to Antarctica (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35670610)

Yes, you are missing the 'radiation hardened' part, numbnuts.

Re:Ice to Antarctica (2)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#35670706)

So why doesn't Japan already have radiation hardened robots? They have a good number of nuclear power plants, an advanced robotics industry, why the hell didn't the Japanese build any of this type of robot?

This is the second shipment of US robots to go over.

http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9215346/U.S._to_send_radiation_hardened_robots_to_Japan?taxonomyId=12 [computerworld.com]

Re:Ice to Antarctica (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35670776)

Rad hard electronics are made by countries with space programs and militaries; having a nuclear industry is not a big driver.

Re:Ice to Antarctica (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35671242)

But now they learn the hard way such omission wasn't such a good idea. Experience is the best teacher, but not always a kind one.

I'd be willing to bet in the not too distant future, Japan will be developing their own rad-hardened robots and electronics.

Re:Ice to Antarctica (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#35670756)

Why weren't the Godzilla fighting robots radiation hardened? That doesn't seem very clever.

Re:Ice to Antarctica (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35671016)

Because if they WERE, then they would've taken him down early in each movie and we wouldn't get to see the climactic Tokyo-leveling battles between him and whatever more eviler monster was stomping around at the time. Duh.

(psst... I've got ten internets on someone zealously rushing in to correct me on Godzilla lore! Double-or-nothing that they insist on calling him Gojira!)

Re:Ice to Antarctica (1)

lysdexia (897) | more than 3 years ago | (#35670862)

It's been done, MAN. This'll [wikipedia.org] put lead in your pencil.

Re:Ice to Antarctica (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#35671044)

aaah, so Antarctica needs radiation hardened ice, I get it.

Wait, why is he missing his numbnuts again?

Re:Ice to Antarctica (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35670738)

I am a bit surprised that Japan didn't have a more robust robotic response handy(yes, delicate digital circuitry does not mix well with radiation; but RF-controlled large scale model vehicles can be had in fairly large sizes with fairly primitive analog, and thus comparatively rad-hard, controllers), I assume that the general mayhem of earthquake and tsunami had something to do with it.

On the other hand, though, it isn't a complete surprise that the US might have more radiation-specific robots: Since the US was among the earliest and largest-scale users of nuclear technology, they have a fair few "Christ, guys, what the hell were we thinking at the time?" sites and designs that need to be monitored(and, unlike the former USSR, who also has their share, didn't suffer a major economic contraction right about when they needed to start monitoring them). Plus, I suspect that rad-hard robotics control systems can borrow R&D and component economies of scale from the space program, which also has to send semi-autonomous systems into fairly energetic environments and have them not fail. Components designed for space use are not exactly cheap(BAE's RAD750 is essentially a $200,000 G3-era PPC board...); but cheaper than doing things in one-offs.

Re:Ice to Antarctica (2)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 3 years ago | (#35670880)

I think it has to do more with the war on terror. A lot of these iRobot bots are seeing service as IED disarming and cleaning paths. I'm not surprised to learn the US has radiation hardened ones too as disarming a dirty bomb probably will become a necessity some day.

Re:Ice to Antarctica (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35670988)

I'm sure that that is the current buzzword for getting projects funded, and the item ticked on the brochure for these various devices(and I suspect that the majority of the iRobot chassis are being sold to bomb squad types with the occasional dose of hazmat) ; but the R&D for autonomy and radiation hardness definitely precedes 2001 by a fairly large margin. The "robots that can operate over rubble by means other than just making their treads bigger" thing, though seems to be more recent.

Re:Ice to Antarctica (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35670788)

Surely all their robotics R&D didn't go to violin playing, grandma bathing, ramen making, Godzilla fighting bots? Am I missing something?

actually, that's kinda their thing...

Re:Ice to Antarctica (2)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | more than 3 years ago | (#35670834)

Ah ha! I knew something was fishy about this story... Taisei set to introduce robots for N-cleanup [yomiuri.co.jp] . I knew my faith in Japanese robotics wasn't misplaced. This is just a PR stunt by a iRobot.

What, only robots? (0)

or-switch (1118153) | more than 3 years ago | (#35670596)

The US has a plethora of hardened death row inmates. Why not use them? Nothing could posibly go wrong (yes, I spelled it that way on purpose, Simpsons reference). It can be the basis of either a fictional or based-on-a-true-story type summer blockbuster movie in a couple years.

Re:What, only robots? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35670846)

Besides the "cruel and unusual" issue, I'm not sure that condemned prisoners who have the exciting prospect of an even more unpleasant death in front of them would necessarily be all that motivated to get the job done...

Even if you were willing to offer them rewards sufficient to obtain their cooperation, you might run into some trouble getting them up to speed on what needs to be done in the time available.

Re:What, only robots? (0)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#35670894)

Perhaps because that is immoral?
That goes beyond death penalty and right into Dr.Mengele territory. The death penalty is barbarous enough, we have already proven that innocent folks are murdered by the state when we use it.

So you get some people off death row (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35671346)

Find one that is skilled enough to be of any use in such a situation.

People on death row are not generally known for their level of education. Most of them are poor, uneducated and probably recovering drug addicts.

Now maybe you think you'll find something for them to do, anybody can tighten a bolt, right?

Hah. Get some experience with mechanics and you'll realize that it's more trouble than it is worth to get completely unskilled people into a work site.

Very nice (-1, Troll)

slashdance5 (2030058) | more than 3 years ago | (#35670604)

Yet, why Japan needs US here.
They are leaders in robotics?
Look at this robot [blog.com] for example.
It was specially designed to work in high radiation areas...

what kind of world am i living in? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35670612)

the US is giving Japan robots!!!

Strangely, Japan doesn't seem to have such robots (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#35670620)

France, Germany, and the US are all sending over rugged robots designed to work in disaster areas, collapsed building sites, and war zones. Strangely, Japan doesn't seem to have those.

I'm amazed that TEPCO hadn't at least brought in a few hobby-type R/C quadrotors or helicopters with TV cameras to get a look at areas they couldn't reach, like the spent fuel pools. For days, they didn't even know the water levels in those pools. Attempts were made to peer through holes in the roof with high-altitude flyovers, but that produced results like "we see some water in the pools, but can't tell how much."

The biggest problem with TEPCO has been eliminated. The CEO was just canned for "health reasons". He's been in hiding since the earthquake.

Re:Strangely, Japan doesn't seem to have such robo (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35670762)

A tragic lack of foresight here. All for the love of... There's no way to convince me this scenario wasn't anticipated, and dismissed as "absurd" or for "lack of funds". Damn people could have remote controlled bulldozers and back hoes to move the heavy shit, y'know, do actual work.

Re:Strangely, Japan doesn't seem to have such robo (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#35670938)

Eh? how is a remote controlled bulldozer or backhoe going to do anything useful as far as checking reactor vessel and spent fuel pools and turbine building? They don't climb ladders and stairs and fit in aisles between pipes Cranes and lifts are very useful at a nuke plant, the things you mentioned only come on site for new roads and buildings and security modifications.

Re:Strangely, Japan doesn't seem to have such robo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35671198)

they'd make it easier to level the area, and pour a huge slab of concrete over it. which is what will likely happen anyway...

Re:Strangely, Japan doesn't seem to have such robo (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#35671350)

That can be done old-school way, no robotics needed, just respirator and suit and watch the dosimeter.

Re:Strangely, Japan doesn't seem to have such robo (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35671230)

I was using them as an example. Stay on topic here. The point is that we have machinery to deal with this (see AC's response below), and it's not being mobilized quickly enough due to negligent lack of preparation for mostly monetary purposes. It's completely inexcusable.

Re:Strangely, Japan doesn't seem to have such robo (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#35671372)

The topic is measuring radiation in high-rad areas, and remote viewing. It remains to be seen how useful such machinery will be or even if any use at all. Wasting tens of millions on something of no use is not what I would want my power company to do, just raise rates. Instead they could have spent mere hundreds of thousands to put half of their 13 gen sets up high and this would have been a non-event.

Re:Strangely, Japan doesn't seem to have such robo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35670972)

But we have them http://www.groupe-intra.com/pages2/intervention/moyens4.htm.

Re:Strangely, Japan doesn't seem to have such robo (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35671190)

Then they should have been on the first plane out...

This is still a pisser... Complete negligence on the part of those with the resources to mitigate this.

Re:Strangely, Japan doesn't seem to have such robo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35671292)

Correction, actually, http://www.groupe-intra.com/pages2/intervention/moyens5.htm are closer to bulldozers.

Japanese refused french robots, don't know which ones (indoors, outdoors or civil engineering ones).

Re:Strangely, Japan doesn't seem to have such robo (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35671358)

First link was okay... It gets the point across on just how bungled this whole mess is.

Japanese refused french robots...

For real?

Re:Strangely, Japan doesn't seem to have such robo (4, Informative)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#35670830)

They key here is "radiation hardened", the robots and cameras will both be so, they are from Idaho National Laboratory, the nation's Nuclear R&D facility. Your PC or typical hobby type remote controlled gear would go ape-shit in a high rad environment from charged particles being created in the silicon.

The problems with TEPCO and the current crisis will continue with or without the former CEO, as they have for decades

Re:Strangely, Japan doesn't seem to have such robo (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35671542)

That makes sense, I was trying to figure out what aspect of them was in need of hardening.

hand that CEO a big sharp knife (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35671160)

He ought to know what to do. Sepuku is mandatory. This being 2011, we expect it streamed on the Internet.

If he's too much of a wimp, an acceptable alternative would be to drink water from the core.

Top that, Commies! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35670622)

Why, yes, Billy, not only will we fly our cars to the moon for lunch, but we will have robots. Radiation-fighting American robots!

Re:Top that, Commies! (1)

cobrausn (1915176) | more than 3 years ago | (#35670764)

I prefer the nuke-flinging American Robot from Fallout 3.

France already sent robots, Japanese rejected them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35670630)

France already sent hardened robots over a week ago. Apparently the Japanese got offended that someone dared to offer to help them. http://www.groupe-intra.com/pages2/intervention/moyens1.htm . I would not be surprised if they also reject the US ones.

Re:France already sent robots, Japanese rejected t (2)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#35670808)

I think they're out of options by now. Man I hate groupthink .. err.. I mean "culture", sometimes.. there are many aspects of Japanese culture that I find interesting and enjoyable, but a lot of the "honour" stuff has always seemed a bit much. Especially if it causes nuclear materials to blow around the rest of the world.

Re:France already sent robots, Japanese rejected t (0)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 3 years ago | (#35670950)

Japan turned away several French trade missions before the United States' Commodore Perry came along and said "trade or we'll blow your shit up."

Even if things have come a long way since colonialism, I wouldn't be surprised if American diplomats were a little more forceful (and had more leverage) than French ones about insisting that aid be taken.

Re:France already sent robots, Japanese rejected t (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#35671008)

I've seen the news of Groupe-Intra sending rad-hardened robots (and a few companies from other countries), but where is your source saying they were rejected? Note japan doesn't have nuclear weapons program, but I strongly suspect that countries that have them are the ones with thriving rad-hardened robot industry (a mainly military-industrial complex thing with some civilian application)

When did we get cool robots? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35670736)

I guess unless it's a receptionist, takes care of the elderly or allows you to have telepresence then it ain't in Japan.

TEPCO effors... (-1, Troll)

slashdance6 (2030086) | more than 3 years ago | (#35670740)

They did try to use Japanese robots, but all their attempts failed [blog.com] So they call US now. Sad day for Japan robotics

Re:TEPCO effors... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35670820)

Fuck you. Go back to 4chan.

Goatse Warning! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35670836)

Goatse Warning!

high radiation now outside the evac zone (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35670750)

Latest news is that things are progressively becoming worse. Radiation OUTSIDE the evac zone is now exceeding the safe limits in some towns.

People in towns outside the evac region are being told to prepare to leave if conditions worsen.

This disaster appears to unfold like many others, with repeated assurances that things are OK and will be contained at this point, followed by failure and progressively worse conditions.

Radioactivity in the seawater outside the Fukushima plant continues to increase, and is now at the worst levels seen since the disaster. This is thought to be a sign that water is leaking into and back out of the core through cracks in the containment. Tepco is accused of covering up the worst problems.

Re:high radiation now outside the evac zone (0, Flamebait)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#35671108)

You mean Greenpeace detecting the 50 times background in 25 miles NW of plant? *yawn*, I've glassware from my grandfather that gives off more than that, and it's totally safe and legal to ship through U.S. mail.

Re:high radiation now outside the evac zone (2)

mldi (1598123) | more than 3 years ago | (#35671416)

Damnit! For the last time, people, stop throwing bananas into the seawater!

US to send robots to Japan? (2)

jd2112 (1535857) | more than 3 years ago | (#35670816)

Sounds like the plot of an Anime movie...

Re:US to send robots to Japan? (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 3 years ago | (#35670892)

Sounds like the plot of an Anime movie...

Sigh. If only Godzilla were real he could pop up right now, waggle a clawed finger at the Japanese, as if to say "See what you get playing around recklessly with the atom?", pick up the reactors and take them to the Moon (unless you're one of those fans who see Flying Godzilla as the greatest sin perpetrated by Toho.)

Re:US to send robots to Japan? (2)

fahlesr1 (1910982) | more than 3 years ago | (#35671354)

My father works in the nuclear power industry. Back when I very young, I was still in elementary school because this took place before 9/11, the power plant my dad worked at had a "bring your son to work" day. I got to drive a robot around the power plant, that was really neat. They used them to work in hot rooms all the time, some tasks are easier to use a robot since there aren't any regulations on how long a robot can stay in a hot room.

The nuclear industry loves robots. These will probably help with the cleanup effort enormously. Not that they couldn't use people, the gear exists to keep them safe, but even with that gear there are still lots and lots of regulations to follow, my father says its a headache even under normal operating conditions.

what is Japan in a robot crisis? (2)

WonderingAround (2007742) | more than 3 years ago | (#35670850)

I heard France was even sending robots, the only question is are they to help aid or fight the malfunctioning Japanese robots?

Re:what is Japan in a robot crisis? (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 3 years ago | (#35671052)

I heard France was even sending robots, the only question is are they to help aid or fight the malfunctioning Japanese robots?

I'm impressed France is that forward thinking and Japan is that unprepared. Not quite the image we expected, was it?

Japan would be full of clever robots which could do almost everything and France wouldn't have any because the robotic robot assemblers trade union is on strike.

So it turns out Japan has been trying to perfect a bunch of utterly useless, but highly marketable robots to beep, boop, dance and look cute, which France have been making industrial duty do-the-dirty-work jobs.

Chernobyl Robots (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35670876)

I believe that the US sent similar robots to Chernobyl after the accident, although they failed due to the amount of debris and extreme radiation. Then the Soviets sent in human "bio-robots" in 40 second shifts to do the same jobs. Hopefully technology has improved since then (and the situation is not as dire).

Obligatory (2)

egamma (572162) | more than 3 years ago | (#35670878)

Domo Arigato, Mr. hardened-against-radiation Roboto!

What the hell... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35670998)

where are all of Japan's robots? If there were a time to move the island and reveal the robot army underneath it would be now...

Oh...oh dear. They have turned on their masters!

Big Dog (1)

JackSpratts (660957) | more than 3 years ago | (#35671032)

Even Godzilla is a little nervous around that one.

19 days in (2)

TopSpin (753) | more than 3 years ago | (#35671146)

Yay for urgency. Fresh water is finally being hauled in by the US navy as well ... about two weeks after they ran out of coolant inventory.

Will there be a reckoning for this foot dragging? No one responsible for Fukushima has acted with anything like the urgency we should expect of companies and governments that operate these reactors.

Hardened robots mean we may soon learn how much spent fuel got lofted by the fires. Brace yourself; every power reactor incident in history has surprised the engineers when they finally got eyeballs on the problem. Credible and well meaning people denied major core melt at TMI-2 for six years until the first camera was lowered into the RPV.

TEPCO officially announced they're scrapping reactors 1 through 4. This is a formality really; recovering those reactors is not feasible. The important thing to notice is that this omits 5 and 6. Those reactors will be put on-line again, just like TMI-1 and Chernobyl 1, 2, and 3. They know, however, that it is much too early to float that balloon.

I am a nuclear advocate. I just don't defend incompetence, poor judgment or neglect. There just isn't any room for it if you're going to burn matter and expect the trust of the people that grant you the liberty.

robot boner (1)

jpl (58317) | more than 3 years ago | (#35671322)

What is a "radiation-hardened" robot? Isn't anything that doesn't have mutation sensitive DNA "radiation-hardened"? In other words, any robot?

Or maybe they mean the robot gets an erection from the radiation. Yeah, that's probably it.

Re:robot boner (3, Informative)

sconeu (64226) | more than 3 years ago | (#35671382)

I can't tell if you're serious or not, but here goes..

IC are sensitive to external radiation. rad-hardened robots use circuitry and components that have been rad-hardened.

That's why, for example, you can't just throw the latest Pentium Whatever into the Space Shuttle's avionics, because a stray alpha or beta particle, and ZAP -- the chip ain't working right.

Re:robot boner (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35671494)

Are you trolling or stupid? just ignorant? what?

Do you know what happens to plain ol wires and standard off the shelf semiconductor circuts when exposed to uncontrolled charged particles? LOTS of them.

Time to learn something.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiation_hardening

Why so late? (1)

johncandale (1430587) | more than 3 years ago | (#35671436)

I don't get why these responses are so slow. Shouldn't they have been prepped to leave the moment nuke fears were announced, and sent over after the first explosion? It's not like radiation hardened robots have full time jobs here.

Obligatory Futurama reference (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35671500)

So these robots will be powered by the new radioactive sake, not the old-fashioned regular one?

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