The robots of Fukushima have 'died'


Robots that were sent to Japan's Fukishima Daiichi nuclear power plant following the 2011 disaster have "died" due to the effects of leaked radiation.

There is still a massive amount of radiation at the Fukushima plant and removing the melted fuel rods, the source of the problem, is proving an incredibly difficult and dangerous challenge.

Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco), the plant's operator, has been sending robots in to locate some of the harder-to-reach rods, including bots able to swim underwater. But as soon as the robots get close, the radiation destroys their wiring.

Five robots sent into the reactors have been lost, and it's unclear whether a more resistive technology can be developed. Furthermore, the last robot to make use of muon rays (an X-ray-like tech) only returned "grainy" images before it was lost to the effects of radiation.

'Deeply worried'

Each robot has to be custom-built for each building, Naohiro Masuda, head of decomissioning at Tepco, told Reuters. It also takes two years to get each one built and ready for action.

The site manager, Akira Ono, said he is "deeply worried" that radioactive water, used to cool down the reactors and then stored in tanks, will leak into the sea again. It's currently estimated that it could take up to 40 years to decommission the plant.

The Fukushima Daiichi disaster happened in 2011 due to a tsunami caused by one of the worst earthquakes in history, ending with almost 19,000 people killed or missing.

[Image Credit: Japan Times video]

Hugh Langley

Hugh Langley is the ex-News Editor of TechRadar. He had written for many magazines and websites including Business Insider, The Telegraph, IGN, Gizmodo, Entrepreneur Magazine, WIRED (UK), TrustedReviews, Business Insider Australia, Business Insider India, Business Insider Singapore, Wareable, The Ambient and more.

Hugh is now a correspondent at Business Insider covering Google and Alphabet, and has the unfortunate distinction of accidentally linking the TechRadar homepage to a rival publication.