TEPCO may be finally getting smarter. Or this could be the continuation of bath salts and diaper polymers - unique use of commonly available off-the-shelf products.
Anyway, TEPCO is redoing the survey of the operating floor of the Reactor 1 building at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. When they tried it the first time in early August, the giant balloon they used got caught by an obstacle and couldn't go up to the operating floor.
This time, they will still use a modified version of the balloon, but they will also have a backup plan which looks better to me than the balloon. TEPCO will have remote-controlled flying objects as backups, and one of them is the one that can be operated with android phone, iPhone or iPad.
Welcome to the 21st century, TEPCO.
Unlike the "Plan A" with the modified giant balloon which will still require workers to be right inside the Reactor 1 building to feed the string attached to the balloon, the "Plan B" with the flying objects can be operated remotely, though the TEPCO's diagram shows workers inside the reactor building with no shield.
From TEPCO's monthly progress report (in Japanese only, 10/22/2012) on the work at the plant toward decommissioning, pages 74 and 76:
Plan A with modified balloon:
Plan B with flying objects:
AR Drone 2.0 is a quadrotor flying thing fitted with HD camera:
I still personally like the idea of Professor Kumar of University of Pennsylvania to use a swarm of small flying objects that self organize. I guess it's still too radical for TEPCO to think of emergent intelligence when individually dumb or low-intelligence objects work together.