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New 'transformer' robot changes shape to access deadly Fukushima nuclear facilities

February 6, 2015 | Telepresence Options

transformer_robot

Story and images by Tsuyoshi Nagano / The Asahi Shimbun

HITACHI, Ibaraki Prefecture--A new shape-changing robot has been rolled out that can chart previously inaccessible areas of the damaged containment vessels at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The new device was demonstrated Feb. 5 at a plant owned by Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy Ltd., one of the firms involved in its development. The International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning, an organization made up of electric power companies and nuclear power plant manufacturers, developed it with a government subsidy.

The probe was conceived as a way to examine the containment vessels, which are too radioactive for humans to enter. It is scheduled for deployment at the No. 1 reactor building, which contains melted fuel, this spring.

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