Japan: Autonomous drone developed for Fukushima reactors
Scientists in Japan are working on an autonomous drone for use inside the country's crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, it's reported.
The drone is being developed to survey the interior of reactor buildings which were badly damaged in the devastating 2011 earthquake and subsequent tsunami. Unlike standard remote-controlled drones, the new model guides itself using lasers to avoid obstacles and not crash into walls, the Japan Times website reports. It can operate in areas where GPS won't work, and can replace its own battery without a worker being involved, the report says.
Developers carried out a successful test flight of the drone within one of the plant's other buildings earlier this year, the Jiji Press website says. It isn't yet clear when the technology will be ready for use in the most badly damaged of the site's reactors.
Waves from the March 2011 tsunami flooded the plant's cooling systems, causing three of its six reactors to melt down and contaminating the surrounding area with radiation. In April 2015, a tiny robot was sent into one of the reactors, registering extremely high levels of radiation. The robot captured the first images from inside the reactor since the disaster struck, but it stopped working after only a few hours.
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