Since the Fukushima-Daiichi power plant shut down in 2011 after the devastating earthquake and tsunami that caused the facility's nuclear reactor to go off, Japanese officials have been trying to figure out a way to dismantle a large structure in an area chock-full of radioactive (and/or lethal) matter, all without endangering humans who would hypothetically come in contact with the dangerous material. Now, it looks like they've come up with a solution: wrecking and clean-up robots.
First reported in the Japan Times, the wrecking bot in question is manufactured by the Japan-based company Toshiba, most famous for its consumer electronics and appliances. The remote-controlled machine uses robotic arms made out of nuclear-resistant material that will be able to grip and pick up debris from radiation pools that originated from the compromised area, reactor 3. An additional arm will be able to break up and slice these pieces into smaller, more manageable sizes for eventual disposal.
The robot will also be able to fish out fuel rods — zirconium metal tubes which, in turn, powered the reactors with nuclear energy, and possibly, the most delicate and dangerous component of the eventual salvaging mission.
While other pools at the Fukushima-Daiichi site had been cleaned out prior to the unveiling of Toshiba's bot, what made this particular recon mission different is the higher radiation levels found within the reactor pool, which Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) Isao Shirai called "more difficult[,] since it will have to be done completely remotely" due to its astronomical toxicity.
Both Toshiba and Tepco hope to begin cleanup on reactor 3 sometime this year.
Learn more about the Toshiba wrecking bot in the video clip below.