Toshiba recently unveiled a four legged robot that was built to help Japanese technicians inspect and work on the most damaged parts of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant – a place where radiation is so intense no human would like to risk himself.
After the earthquake in Japan on March 2011 and the ensuing tsunami which caused a catastrophic damage to the Fukushima nuclear power plant , workers had to risk their lives to try and assess the damage to the reactor and try and contain as much of the radioactive material as possible.
To help with the ongoing efforts to close down the still radioactive parts of the plant and monitor future hazardous environments Toshiba created the quadruped walking robot. The 143 pounds robot is about 3 feet, 5 inches tall and can walk around, avoid obstacles and even climb stairs.
Together with the quadruped walking robot, Toshiba also unveiled a miniature robot used for inspection which weighs only 4.4 pounds and uses wheels and a tiny arm to examine objects of interest. The quadruped walking robot is a rather slow mover at about 0.6 mph but the bigger problem might very well be its somewhat short operating time of about 2 hours between recharges which might hinder any prolonged operation.
In comparison to other advanced 4 legged robots such as Boston Dynamics’ new LS3 (the more advanced version of the well known BigDog robot), the quadruped walking robot from Toshiba seems somewhat basic, but it has a very specific mission and unlike the LS3 it does not need to be able to walk outside, carry large loads or follow troops on rough terrain.
More information on the quadruped walking robot can be found on the Toshiba website (translated).
A video showing the Toshiba quadruped walking robot in action
Iddo has a B.A. in Philosophy and Cognitive Science and an M.A. in Philosophy of Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is currently writing his Ph.D. thesis on the relationship between the scientific community and industry. Iddo was awarded the 2006 Bar Hillel philosophy of science prize for his work on the relationship between science and technology. He is a member of the board of the lifeboat foundation and was the editor of several high-profile science and technology websites since 1999.
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