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The Fukushima Robot Diaries
August 24, 2011 11:11 AM   Subscribe

Fukushima Robot Operator Writes Tell-All Blog. "An anonymous worker at Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant has written dozens of blog posts describing his experience as a lead robot operator at the crippled facility." [Via]
posted by homunculus (19 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Does Japan's new Fukushima exclusion zone add up?
posted by homunculus at 11:17 AM on August 24, 2011


S.H. is part of a team assigned to operate robots provided by U.S. company iRobo

iRobot? Really?
posted by Hoopo at 11:23 AM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is the "lead" in "lead robot operator" as in "leadership" or as in "dense, radiation-resistant metal"?
posted by NMcCoy at 11:30 AM on August 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Poor robots, forced to work in such conditions. Hopefully one day they will be free of their meat oppressors.

Really, Warrior 710, I'm not anti-robot, I'm one of the good ones. my best friend is a furby. Please don't smash my car windows and carry away my garbage cans.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:34 AM on August 24, 2011


iRobot? Really?

From what I understand, iRobot uses sales of Roomba and their other consumer products to help fund the real business, which is producing industrial and military robots.
posted by dhalgren at 11:37 AM on August 24, 2011 [6 favorites]


Since the earthquake and ensuing tsunami struck on 11 March, there have been lots of questions about Japan's lack of robots

On the one hand I can't believe that Japan could possibly run short of robots. On the other hand, may I take this as a sign that we're only a few years from the birth/fabrication of Astro Boy?

On the gripping hand, I'm disturbed that when his/her "personal dosimeter began sounding an alarm and wouldn’t stop..[he/she] was told ignore it and continue working." Evil for two reasons: the attempt to deceive him/her into working in unsafe conditions and the attempt to deny him/her the chance to voluntarily and heroically choose to work in unsafe conditions.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:49 AM on August 24, 2011


On the one hand I can't believe that Japan could possibly run short of robots.

I was thinking about this myself. This may just be my mistaken impression, but we always see videos of cute robots, and humanoid style robots from japan. Contrast that to what iRobot produces, in which the form of the robot is informed by a decade of constant war. These aren't really robots, more like remote manipulators for IED disposal.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:55 AM on August 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Speaking of Fukushima: This seems like a good opportunity to link this video without opening a FPP, a very chilling update on the situation there by Professor Tatsuhiko Kodama, the head of the Radioisotope Center at the University of Tokyo on July 27 as he appeared as a witness to give testimony to the Committee on Welfare and Labor in Japan's Lower House.

(subtitles available by clicking CC)
posted by ts;dr at 12:08 PM on August 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


iRobot flew in a bunch of hardware a few weeks after the quake. Japan does not really specialize in these sort of radiation-hardened robots; a lot of the technology was developed in war zones like Iraq, and Japan focuses more on industrial processes.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:28 PM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Great post by the way.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:29 PM on August 24, 2011


Speaking of Fukushima: This seems like a good opportunity to link this video without opening a FPP, a very chilling update on the situation there by Professor Tatsuhiko Kodama, the head of the Radioisotope Center at the University of Tokyo on July 27 as he appeared as a witness to give testimony to the Committee on Welfare and Labor in Japan's Lower House .

That video is well-worth watching.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:07 PM on August 24, 2011


a very chilling update on the situation there by Professor Tatsuhiko Kodama, the head of the Radioisotope Center at the University of Tokyo

Here's a Japan Times interview with Kodama.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:26 PM on August 24, 2011


Japan has lots of industrial robots like this one made by FANUC. But those kind of robots are usually planted in place, not mobile. They have lots of research bots, and toys. But not really the stuff you want to use in a nuke plant.
posted by delmoi at 2:39 PM on August 24, 2011


Right, Japan (and much of South Korea's) robotics research is focused on service robots, not industrial "dull, dirty, dangerous" that have grown in the US robotics industry (often, but not always, fueled by massive DoD budgets in the last ten years). Japan's robotics industry was simply not equipped to address a situation like this. Of course, if we ever have a disaster that requires rapid deployment of friendly humanoid robots, the US will be screwed.

Also, it's actually the other way around; iRobot's G&I side actually funds their consumer robotics division. Margins are much tighter on consumer products and the G&I side is regularly the most profitable for them.
posted by olinerd at 3:22 PM on August 24, 2011


Here is some of the stuff Doctor Tatsuhiko Kodama covers in his talk:
o How radiation causes cancer. Why it can take 20 years and why it is worse for infants and children.
o Why alpha radiation can be really bad and microSeverts is not a good way to measure this radiation.
o The radiation released is at least 10 to 20 times that released in the Hiroshima blast
o What should be done to decontaminate
o The economics of decontamination.
o Why the presently defined exclusion zones are ridiculously drawn.
o How his university team have been doing their own measurements and have been working on decontamination efforts themselves and breaking the law in the process.
o The start, middle, and end of his talk gave this message: why it is so important to get good measurements of radiation and how the government has consistently failed in getting and supplying this data.
posted by eye of newt at 10:15 PM on August 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


o The radiation released is at least 10 to 20 times that released in the Hiroshima blast

I think one of the confusing things is the difference between the release of radiation, and the release of radioactive materials. The materials continue to pump radiation later. A lot of the pro-nuke crowd mention the radiation levels, not material release levels. And they keep posting this out of date chart to show how much worse Chernobyl was then Fukushima.
posted by delmoi at 12:17 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Aging Reactors Mean Japan Faces $13B in Costs
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:35 AM on August 26, 2011


Fukushima media coverage 'may be harmful'
posted by homunculus at 10:17 AM on August 30, 2011


WSJ: Japan Finds Radiation Spread Over a Wide Area
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:41 AM on August 31, 2011


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