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INL To Send Robot To Japan

Japan’s nuclear crisis may be half a world away, but engineers here at home are lending a helping hand.

The Idaho National Laboratory is sending special robotics to help get the tsunami-damaged nuclear reactors back under control.

The lab is configuring a robot that can take measurements where it is too dangerous for humans to go, so the Japanese will have a better idea on how to get things under control.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory is sending one robot where it has never gone before, a highly radioactive environment.

The talon system robot is an ordinary commercially available robotic, but engineers at the INL are retro fitting it so it will be able to measure radiation levels where danger lurks.

Director of the INL’s science and engineering division David Miller said they want to use it so someone isn’t put in the line of danger.

“There is a saying that you use a robot if it is dull, dirty or dangerous,” Miller said.

Some workers at the Fukushima plant have already been exposed to high levels of radiation and burned.

With camera’s shielded from radiation, the robot will be able to pinpoint the exact location of the radioactive areas within the plant.

The INL has never had a nuclear crisis so putting a robot in a highly radioactive environment is somewhat of an experiment.

?We’ve used these kinds of robots to do environmental measurements were there might have been an area we wanted survey but never in the areas we are talking about now,” Miller said.

With so many environmental clean up projects the INL’s robotics program has grown over the last two decades.

“So we developed measurement systems to send people we didn’t want to put at risk,? Miller said.

The D.O.E. is expected to have the robot ready to go and delivered to Japan next week.

This is not the first time the D.O.E. has helped in the crisis, they have already sent 40 employees and more than 17,000 pounds of equipment in hopes to get things under control.

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