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iRobot Packbots enter Fukushima nuclear plant to gather data, take photos, save lives (video)

Amar Toor, @amartoo
04.18.11
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iRobot recently deployed a pair of robots to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan, where intense levels of radiation have made it increasingly dangerous for human rescue workers to operate. The remote-controlled Packbots entered one of Fukushima's reactor buildings on Sunday morning, in the hopes of providing authorities with a better idea of what's going on inside the plant's nether regions. Each Packbot entered the facility with an attached video camera, allowing Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) to receive live interior images and temperature readings of the troubled reactor building. It would certainly be a daunting task for any human to undertake, but the Packbot is specially designed to cope with hazardous conditions (in the past, it's been used to defuse bombs for the U.S. Army). And the Packbot isn't alone, either. Authorities are also using a mechanical excavator and transporter to wipe away some of the debris outside the plant, while an unmanned helicopter has been hoisted skyward, to take aerial photos of the area. TEPCO has yet to release information on the Packbots' findings, but if Sunday's mission proves to be a success, they'll be sent in to two other reactor buildings, to do it all over again. Check out a video and an extra image of the Packbot, after the break.




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