A team of Japanese researchers has designed an eight-legged ‘Octopus’ robot to help clear heavy and contaminated rubble following the 2011 Fukushima disaster.
Engineers at Waseda University’s Future Robotics Organisation and the Kikuchi Corporation, have created the 1.7-metre tall robot with four arms and four tank-treads, which is specifically built to deal with difficult terrain and lend assistance in rescue missions.
The robot weighs roughly 70kg, and each of its four arms can carry more than 200kg. As well as heavy-lifting, it has also been engineered to efficiently put out fires, deal with radioactive waste and cut through rock with fibre laser capabilities.
The ‘Octopus’ robot is able to utilise its eight hydraulic limbs simultaneously to travel uneven ground at the same time as clearing rubble and fallen trees, and extinguishing fires. Each of its four arms can also be used to lift the robot’s entire body off the ground.
Currently the robot requires two remote operators, but the engineers hope that one will be sufficient in the near future.
The Fukushima Daiichi disaster began on the 11th March 2011 after a quake-tsunami hit a nuclear power plant. The damage caused at the plant resulted in the nuclear meltdown of three of the plant’s six reactors. Approximately 300,000 people had to be evacuated from the surrounding area and over 15,000 people were killed. It was the biggest nuclear disaster in history since Chernobyl in 1986.
The ‘Octopus’ robot was unveiled at a conference dedicated to the Fukushima disaster and medical warfare project, alongside other robots and technologies designed to support recovery efforts following natural disasters.
“We are planning to establish a research facility in Kikuchi Minami-Soma plant. We hope to overcome the obstacles that come with natural disasters and an aging society, and use this robot to bring new industries to Fukushima prefecture,” said ‘Octopus’ robot creator Professor Masakatsu Fujie.