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Toshiba has unveiled a remote-controlled robot called the Fuel Removal System (FRS), which has been specially designed to help with the clean-up of Japan's wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The Japanese government intends to begin decommissioning reactor 3, considered to be filled with harmful radiation, in 2017.
The entire clean-up process is expected to take up to four decades and involves completing tasks that can be too dangerous for human beings. The nuclear power plant went into meltdown after being hit by a devastating tsunami in March 2011. The Japanese government's clean-up crew has been restricted to clearing surface debris as some parts of the power plant still have toxic levels of radiation.
Toshiba's FRS is slated to clear all debris remaining from the meltdown and also remove 566 highly radioactive fuel rods from the damaged spent fuel pool (SFP). Toshiba released a statement that said the remote-controlled robot will be stationed at the plant soon but will begin operating from 2017.
The robot has been designed to sit in cooling water within the contaminated site, while its crane-like arms remove any debris around the fuel rods. Following the clearing of all debris, the robot will then remove the fuel rods from the reactor 3 site. The FRS comes equipped with cameras that will allow engineers to oversee the clean-up process to ensure that all safety precautions are fulfilled.
Toshiba has been working on developing safe and effective means to help clear the crippled Fukushima plant since the calamity occurred. In 2012 the tech giant developed a robotic quadruped that served as a scout for future repair work, according to a report by Engadget. The tech firm said it intends to keep working on innovative solutions to ensure that decommissioning of the power plant is completed safely and successfully.