‘Scorpion’ robot fails in Fukushima-reactor search

By Cheryl Chumley

Scorpion

The “scorpion” robot is designed to withstand up to 1,000 sieverts of radiation.

A robot sent into a Japanese nuclear reactor plant to help determine the reasons for, and extent of, a meltdown that occurred during a March 2011 tsunami saw its mission come to a sudden halt after debris – or radiation – blocked its progression.

The robot, dubbed a “scorpion” for its ability to lift its camera-equipped tail to provide the best views, is supposedly designed to climb rubble and treacherous grounds.

But debris at the Fukushima plant proved too much for the 24-inch robot to overcome.

Phys.Org suggested radiation at the site could’ve been a factor in halting the robot, as well.

“It’s not immediately clear if that’s because of radiation or obstacles,” said a spokesperson with the robot’s manufacturer, Toshiba.

The robot was supposed to crawl through the heart of a site in the reactor beneath a pressure vessel through which nuclear fuel is thought to have melted and pooled. But it never made it to its final destination.

It’s not clear when or if a new robot will be dispatched to the area. Currently, researchers are sifting through the information the “scorpion” was able to collect, to see if anything’s useful.

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Japanese officials are still reeling from the March 11, 2011, tsunami that rocked its northeast coast. Not only did the storm leave 18,000-plus dead or missing, it also caused meltdowns at three reactors.

The costs of repairs and rebuilds could hit at $189 billion, the Japanese government estimated last December. And they’ll likely take more than a decade to finish. Part of the reason for the slow rebuild is Click to see the original article