Robots & Things

I haven’t posted in a couple of weeks, so I thought I’d put in a post of interesting things

In my RSS reader this morning there was post from, which was actually a link to a BBC article about robots working in the Fukushima Nuclear plant post Disaster.

IRobot Packbots

Some of the Packbots being used at the site

I wasn’t surprised with the usual tracked robots like the Irobot Packbots, which are usually seen on bomb squad duty,  or the Talon’s which i believe are military reconnoissance robots, usually pictured with an array of varying weaponry.

What I did find interesting were remotely operated Bobcat skid steer loaders. they were very interesting, and very cool. They are decked out with an array of camera and control hardware, which allow it to be operated remotely. According to the video I have linked to below, the hardware doesn’t take long to fit, and the loader can still be used by an operator if needed.

remote operated skid steer loaders

Skid Steer Loaders retrofitted with Remote operation hardware. very cool, and very handy in highly radioactive environments

I also found the method of controlling the bobcats rather entertaining, an Xbox 360 controller connected to a laptop. Its shown in the article linked above, and a little more is said at the Discover Magazine blog . Previously, I have read that it is common in this day and age to use mass-produced controllers like this, It is supposed to lessen the learning curve, and reduce the necessity to R&D a new control system.

Xbox 360 controller controlling the bots

Xbox 360 controller controlling the bots

Another shot of the laptop / xbox controller

Another shot of the laptop / xbox controller

The Youtube video below has some shots of the above robots in action:

And while doing a little more reading, I have come across another robot which is being used, the Monirobo. The Monirobo is a Japanese designed and built robot. As the name implies, I believe the Monirobo is primarily a monitoring robot, with radiation, heat and humidity sensors, as well as 3D camera. It is heavily shielded to allow it to operate in high radiation areas (the whole idea of this robot!), and weighs in at over half a tonne.  There is an articulated arm, which from my limited reading, is primarily for collecting samples, not moving rubble or the likes

the Japanese monirobo

The Japanese Monirobo

The disaster Japan is facing is tragic, and anything that can be done to help keep the repair teams safe is important. I am somewhat surprised there aren’t more japanese robots in use, I guess most of the robots developed in Japan are designed for the more glamorous / domestic robotic tasks.


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