Where Angels Fear to Tread

Fukushima Reactor Meltdown Site Explored by 3D Printed Robot

Fukushima Reactor
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Four years after the Fukushima Reactor meltdown, TEPCO is sending a smartphone-carrying 3D printed robot to survey the damage.

A 3D printed robot carrying a smartphone has captured the first images from inside Fukushima’s Unit 3 Reactor since its meltdown in 2011.

After a major earthquake four years ago, a tsunami hit and disabled the reactor’s power supply. The next morning, radioactive leakage was confirmed and it was deemed a Nuclear Event Level 7 disaster, the same level as the infamous Chernobyl meltdown.

More recently, new footage taken by the robot may shed light on the state of the reactor and what will become of it in the future.

Fukushima Reactor looks like a Haunted House

TEPCO, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, has created a sturdy robot that can survive otherwise deadly levels of radiation. The tiny robot is designed to handle small bumps in the road (up to 5 cm) and the smartphone can be turned 180 degrees to take images of the ceiling and floor.

Equipped with a 3D printed shell, the robot (which is actually kind of cute) was sent in last month to take a video of the reactor’s interior. The smartphone transmitted information directly to a remote PC. The robot was also equipped with an LED light to manoeuvre through the eerily empty reactor.

The recording, which TEPCO has shared to their Facebook page, begins with an overhead view of the robot before switching to the robot’s point of view. TEPCO discovered earlier this year that the upper side of the Unit 3 PCV hatch lid was not damaged or leaking coolant; however, the water on the floor inside of the hatch could not be thoroughly explained.

Unfortunately, though the Fukushima Daiichi happened several years ago, not much has changed since then. With over 55,000 people fleeing their homes, bitterness and distrust still remains. The aftermath of the meltdown was riddled with poor communication, making the situation even worse. Recent leaked documents also show that the reactor’s operator knew of the need to act before the tsunami, but chose not to.

The 3D printed, smartphone-carrying robot is already reported to have uncovered useful information during his tour of the reactor. Hopefully this can help expedite the process and, eventually, get the situation back under control.

Fukushima Reactor