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Robotic Exoskeletons Could Help Nuclear Plant Workers

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the power-up dept.

Technology 29

itwbennett (1594911) writes "ActiveLink, which is 80% owned by Panasonic, is building heavy-duty strength-boosting suits that the company says can help workers shoulder the burden of heavy gear and protective clothing and could be useful at nuclear plants. 'Our powered suits could be used to assist and support remote-controlled robots in emergencies,' ActiveLink President Hiromichi Fujimoto said in an interview. 'Workers could wear the suits to carry PackBots to their deployment point and to work in low-radiation areas.'"

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If your gear is heavy enough to necessitate robots (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47149295)

Just use robots.

Re:If your gear is heavy enough to necessitate rob (3, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | about 5 months ago | (#47149335)

If your work is delicate or uncertain enough to require human intervention, just use humans. Oh wait, we can't, because we'll die.

Re:If your gear is heavy enough to necessitate rob (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47149627)

The answer is a forgotten technology that produces an infinite supply of disposable human clones. The ancients perfected the practice eons ago. They called it slavery.

Re:If your gear is heavy enough to necessitate rob (1)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | about 5 months ago | (#47151625)

The answer is a forgotten technology that produces an infinite supply of disposable human clones. The ancients perfected the practice eons ago. They called it slavery.

As approved by their holy book.

Re:If your gear is heavy enough to necessitate rob (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47154857)

I've known a couple of Rob's. While they were good workers I'm not sure they were irreplaceable with other named people.

Re:If your gear is heavy enough to necessitate rob (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47149345)

Yeah, but someone's gotta carry those robots to their deployment point, duh.

Re:If your gear is heavy enough to necessitate rob (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47163699)

Tere are lots of broken down robots becouse the high radiation levels in exploded nuclear plants.
That happened to russians in Tshernobol, that happened to japanese in Fuku ...

There are better uses than nuclear plants (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47149315)

Nuclear plants are on the way out in Japan and around the world anyway. Perhaps they could help disassemble nuclear plants?

Re:There are better uses than nuclear plants (2)

tlambert (566799) | about 5 months ago | (#47150479)

Nuclear plants are on the way out in Japan and around the world anyway. Perhaps they could help disassemble nuclear plants?

Or disassemble the anti-nuclear activists?

Re:There are better uses than nuclear plants (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47150925)

Assemble a dick into your mouth.

Re:There are better uses than nuclear plants (2)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | about 5 months ago | (#47151643)

Nuclear plants are on the way out in Japan and around the world anyway. Perhaps they could help disassemble nuclear plants?

Or disassemble the anti-nuclear activists?

I'm pro nuclear power. We're either going to adopt it or return to the dark ages.

You're an idiot.

That attitude of yours. How's that working out for ya?

cool tech, but... (1)

Cardoor (3488091) | about 5 months ago | (#47149357)

far too little too late.. the problems/near-impossibilty of cleaning up at Fukushima so mind-bogglingly outstrip whatever theoretical benefit these prototypes suggest as to border on the absurd. never mind the geiger counter.. check out our cool gear! tokyo 2020! huzzah!

*DOH* (1)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about 5 months ago | (#47149393)

Damned exoskeletal robot suit's powerful robotic pincers crushed the donuts again. When will I learn?

Re:*DOH* (4, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 months ago | (#47149407)

You have an exoskeleton robot suit. make OTHERS feed you the donuts.

Re:*DOH* (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 5 months ago | (#47150967)

Dude, when are you going to learn, when you're wearing powerful robotic pincers, quit scratching your donuts.

Not really needed (3, Insightful)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 5 months ago | (#47149417)

Nuclear plant workers get very little exposure to start with. There are robotics used for underwater tasks. So there really is not a nuclear power market for such things. There could be some cleanup tasks from old government defense waste sites, but tool as described are very niche use items.

Re:Not really needed (1)

Gareth Iwan Fairclough (2831535) | about 5 months ago | (#47149605)

Nuclear plant workers get very little exposure to start with. There are robotics used for underwater tasks. So there really is not a nuclear power market for such things. There could be some cleanup tasks from old government defense waste sites, but tool as described are very niche use items.

Yeah. There are only so many S.T.A.L.K.E.R.s around who can afford them after all.

Re:Not really needed (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 5 months ago | (#47149735)

have you worked at SNPP?

Re:Not really needed (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 5 months ago | (#47149767)

have you worked at SNPP?

Mr. Burns fired me for some guy named Homer.

Re:Not really needed (1)

rtb61 (674572) | about 5 months ago | (#47152671)

Not really all that niche. The optimum tool, the feedback exo-suit (the would normally connected to a remote control robot) could quite readily be used for virtual reality gaming in either gyms or in virtual reality gaming hotels (due to the cost of the exo-suit experience). That physical feedback (with resistance and or assistance based upon actual user ability), would make for a far more physically interactive gaming experience, so not just seeing and hearing in three dimension but physically moving in three dimension. So push weights, pedal a stationary bike or aimlessly jump about or 'well', doing anything that pretty much can be imagined in existing computer games all with direct physical interaction. Benefit of this is of course it will substantially subsidise the production of feedback exo-suits. Other uses using the remote controlled robot, include fire rescue operations, search and rescue, high risk security interactions and a whole range of harsh or high risk work environments, anything where human safety costs are high and will become higher and be completely avoided by the use of an exo-suit and a remote robot. Keep in mind, the more there are, the cheaper they become, the more they will be produced and they more they will be used.

Once you go the route of a exo-suit it makes more sense to hook it up to a remote control droid and take feedback from that droid to drive active resistance in the exo-suit for far more accurate interaction completely free of human risk.

Nerves (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47149751)

Reminds me of Lester Del Rey's "Nerves," of attempts to control a disaster/meltdown in a nuclear power plant. One of the men trapped in a suit that's so heavily shielded he actually survives immersion in a pool of melted radioactive fuel...

Elysium called, they want their plotline back (1)

m1cr0b3 (3679057) | about 5 months ago | (#47149797)

It worked out great for Max, why not for others?

Re:Elysium called, they want their plotline back (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47154247)

Oh, please give them the plotline back. That movie sucked in oh so many levels that anything trying to imitate it should be killed with fire...

Are the robots in charge now? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 5 months ago | (#47150097)

Our powered suits could be used to assist and support remote-controlled robots in emergencies

Hey, aren't the robots supposed to be assisting and supporting us?

could be useful at nuclear plants

Or factories. Or hospitals. Or zoos. Or mines. Or particle accelerators. Or shipyards.

Re:Are the robots in charge now? (1)

mjwx (966435) | about 5 months ago | (#47151361)

Our powered suits could be used to assist and support remote-controlled robots in emergencies

Hey, aren't the robots supposed to be assisting and supporting us?

You assume too much meatbag.

H.E.V. suit (1)

Iniamyen (2440798) | about 5 months ago | (#47150275)

Welcome to the H.E.V. mark 4 protective system. For use in hazardous environment conditions. High-impact reactive armour activated. Atmospheric contaminant sensors activated. Vital sign monitoring activated. Automatic medical systems engaged. Weapon selection system activated. Munition level monitoring activated. Communications interface online. Have a very safe day.

Ever see the inside of a nuclear plant? (1)

Irate Engineer (2814313) | about 5 months ago | (#47151103)

The writer of this article knows jack shit about nuclear plant operations. Ever get a look at the inside of a nuclear containment, especially the older ones with lots of modifications? Just being a human in a coverall getting around can be a PITA, never mind adding an exoskeleton. And the exposure to a worker in a normally operating plant is minimal and very well understood. Exoskeleton not needed, thanks.

This is a solution looking for a problem, or a sentient robot desperately looking for work to feed his family of toasters.

If the plant goes bad like Fukushima, then maybe, but both humans and robots can get fried pretty quickly if they wander into a high radiation environment. I'd rather be able to run away quickly if my counter spiked wildly instead of being encumbered with a lot of metal. Even better, I'd rather just send in some cheap disposable robots to map the danger regions.

What happened to Cyberdyne's HAL? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47151887)

Didn't Cyberdyne announce a while ago a HAL suit variant that can carry the tungsten plate rad armor, and has arm assist (unlike ActiveLink which the PLL-04 Ninja suit seems to provide leg/lower torso support only). Panasonic late to the game as usual?

We should instead ask the question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47152261)

What job _couldn't_ be improved by using an exoskeleton!

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