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"MEISTeR" Remote Control Robot Completes Demonstration Testing at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station

Performs Decontamination Work and Concrete Core Sampling

Tokyo, Feb 20, 2014 - (JCN Newswire) - Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) has begun demonstration testing of its "MEISTeR," a remotely controlled robot, at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company, Incorporated (TEPCO). The highly advanced two-armed MEISTeR - named from "Maintenance Equipment Integrated System of Telecontrol Robot" - has now completed demonstration testing of decontamination work and concrete core sampling. The robot was developed to perform maintenance, repair and other tasks at disaster or severe accident sites. Its work performance at the site has confirmed the robot's sophisticated work capability, and plans now call for the MEISTeR to assist in recovery work at the plant by performing tasks including decontamination and sampling.

The MEISTeR is an enhanced version of a disaster response robot initially developed by MHI after the criticality accident at the nuclear fuel processing facility in Tokai-mura, Ibaraki Prefecture, in 1999. The improvements incorporated, which were based on MHI's abundant maintenance technologies cultivated at nuclear power facilities, aimed to enable the new robot's use at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, and they were implemented in cooperation with TEPCO and the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning (IRID) as part of a project funded by the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI). Under this initiative the robot was significantly improved in terms of radioactive resistance and remote control capability, making it adaptable to performing a variety of tasks in highly radioactive locations.

Whereas most disaster response robots available until now have primarily performed inspection, maintenance and similar tasks relying on cameras, etc., the MEISTeR can handle a broad array of tasks by changing the tools attached to its arm ends. In addition to inspection and maintenance, the MEISTeR can perform decontamination work, concrete core sampling, cutting of obstacles blocking pathways, etc.

Each robot arm has seven freely articulating joints. By attaching a different tool to the left and right arms, two types of work can be performed simultaneously: for example, grasping an item with one arm and cutting with the other. Inside a nuclear power plant, the MEISTeR is capable of tasks including concrete drilling, cutting of handrails and piping, removal of obstacles, decontamination, repair work, etc.

Inside the Unit 1 plant at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, the MEISTeR carried out demonstration testing of two decontamination processes since late last month: one whereby radioactive material in the plant is sucked up through a dedicated nozzle, and another in which a jet of abrasive blast material is used to scrape off a thin layer of a contaminated surface. It also confirmed travel capability inside the plant's narrow passageways, and performed concrete core sampling aimed at investigating the level of contamination inside the reactor building. The latter process involved taking concrete samples from the structure's walls and floor, at a depth of approximately 70 millimeters (mm) from the surface; this was carried out by remotely controlling the robot's arms, to which a specially developed drill and hand were attached. Concrete core sampling is now also scheduled for the Unit 2, to determine the level of contamination of the operating floor.

Going forward, MHI intends to proceed with development of even more sophisticated remote control robots and tool attachments of various kinds, to meet the diverse needs of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station and other plants.

General specification of MEISTeR

Dimension (length x width x height): 1,250mm x 700mm x 1,300mm
Weight: 440 kg
Moving system: Using 4 crawlers
Moving speed: 2 kilometers per hour
Travelling performance: Capable to climb up to 40-degree angle slopes and steps with up to a 220mm gap.
Communication: Wired and wireless
Electric source: Wired and buttery (go for 2 hours on a single charge)
Robot arms: Double arms with 7-axis control system. Each arm can carry objects weighing up to 15kg.

About Mitsubishi Heavy Industries

Since its foundation in 1884, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has sought pioneering new monodzukuri (manufacturing) techniques, building the foundations for the development of the entire industry. Today, with environmental and energy issues to the fore, MHI provides people around the world with eco-friendly products, and contributes to society through its involvement in global infrastructure projects and other business activities. For more information, please visit the MHI website at www.mhi.co.jp.

Source: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
Hideo Ikuno
[email protected]

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