Monday, October 22, 2012

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant Reactor 1 Operating Floor Survey: TEPCO Will Use Small Drones As Backup This Time

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.


Anonymous said...

What is the fucking point of using these flying robots , the corium left the building long ago and the spent fuel pools are in peril (something that exskf blog hates talking about) if the fuel pools go then its curtains..

Anonymous said...

There we go again. spent fuel pools in peril. Where were all these people when they were in most peril (March and April last year)?

Anonymous said...

I doubt the Flying robot will work. In high radiation environments, electronics fail. Humans work better than electronics (less prone to immediate failure in high rad environments) so if they can't send in humans, its unlikely that a remote controlled flying robot will work.

when ionizing radiation hits a semiconductor it introduces a charge where the particle (or photon) strikes. The charge influences signals (ie flipping a bit from a zero to one). Thus introducing errors in the signaling causing malfunctions.

Generally robots designed to work in High Rad environments have the electronics stored outside so that only the motors, and actualators are inside the robot exposed to the High Rad field. Other designs use heavy shielding and or special electronics that are radation hardened. However its unlike that a COTs Quad-copter is going be shielded and use custom hardened electronics.

Probably the only feasible option is to use a robot on the roof to either locate an openning, or drill one and insert a snake camera.

Atomfritz said...

Camera dots and the occasional Quince crashes/restarts at radiation hotspots like #2 containment lid show very well what anon 11:13 said.

However, I don't think it's impossible to construct radiation hardened minidrones. Think of the triple-redundant Apollo board computers, for example.

Centipede said...

I have to agree with the two above posters. It'll almost be funny to see them send in even hardened robo-copters and then watch them crash and fall silent. Wait, that's actually a little sad...

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