Toshiba’s robot arms called in to help with hazardous Fukushima clean-up

Whichever way you look at it, the site of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant continues to face enormous challenges, with unexpected problems constantly surfacing over the five years since the facility was knocked out by a massive quake and tsunami.

In its effort to get on top of the situation, the site’s beleaguered operator has been using a variety of robots inside some of the damaged reactor buildings, with Toshiba among a number of tech companies offering help.

Toshiba’s latest bot will work in Reactor 3 to remove 566 spent fuel rods from a cooling pool. It’s a desperately complex and dangerous undertaking that has little room for error. High radiation levels inside the building prevent humans from entering to assist with the task, so the job has to be done using only robot technology.

Toshiba’s specially designed crane is made up of two main parts: two robotic arms designed to collect and cut up debris that would otherwise obstruct the task, and a third arm for grabbing and removing the rods, the Japan Times reported.

As you’d expect, the machine also incorporates several cameras for relaying video from a variety of angles to remote operators, allowing for precision control of the robot – vital for such a precarious operation.

Long wait

The robot, however, isn’t expected to start work till 2018, the long wait an indication of the complexity of the operation, as well as the lengthy training operators need to ensure skillful control of Toshiba’s crane.

While the Japanese company’s bot is tasked with removing spent fuel rods, the operator of the devastated nuclear facility still faces the monumental challenge of dealing with the reactors’ fuel cores that suffered meltdowns five years ago – the state and location of the hot, molten uranium isn’t even known for certain. Experts believe the clean-up operation could take decades to complete, leaving many hoping that further advances in technology will serve to expedite the process.

Emerging Tech

The U.S. Army is developing A.I. missiles that can choose their own targets

The U.S. military wants to equip itself with a new type of artificial intelligence-guided missile, which will use A.I. smarts to pursue its targets. Prototypes will be shown off in 2021.
Movies & TV

Skip the sunshine this summer and watch the best shows on Hulu

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.
Movies & TV

Here are the best shows on Netflix right now (August 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Movies & TV

Who needs sunshine? Stay inside and watch the best movies on Netflix instead

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Gaming

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.
News

UPS partners with TuSimple to test self-driving semi-trucks

UPS has been carrying truckloads of goods in self-driving semi-trucks since May. The vehicles are being tested in Arizona routes between Phoenix and Tucson for better service and efficiency for UPS delivery.
Emerging Tech

Astro the dog-inspired quadruped robot can sit, lie down, and… learn?

Move over Spot! Researchers from Florida Atlantic University have built a new dog robot called Astro. Thanks to deep learning technology, it promises to be able to learn just like a real dog.
Health & Fitness

We spit in a ton of test tubes to find the best and most unique DNA tests

DNA tests aren’t just limited to ancestry. You can test for your risks for certain diseases, the best workouts and diets for your health and fitness, and more.
Emerging Tech

Artificial tree promises to suck up as much air pollution as a small forest

Startup Biomitech has developed an artificial tree that it claims is capable of sucking up as much air pollution as 368 real trees. It could be a game-changer for cities with limited free space.
Emerging Tech

Mars 2020 rover now has a rotating array of drill bits for sampling Martian rock

Most the key components in the Mars 2020 rover are installed and ready to go. The next phase of construction was to install the bit carousel, an important mechanism for the gathering and sorting of samples from the Martian surface.
Emerging Tech

NASA selects landing site candidates for OSIRIS-Rex to sample asteroid Bennu

Last year, the OSIRIS-REx craft arrived at asteroid Bennu, from which it will collect a sample from the asteroid to be brought back to Earth. Now, the NASA team has selected four potential sites to choose from for the sampling mission.
Emerging Tech

NASA wants to send two more missions to Mars to collect rock samples

With its Mars 2020 mission, NASA hopes to collect samples from the surface of the planet. The challenge is how to get those samples back to Earth. Now, NASA has revealed its plans for two followup missions to Mars.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Racing drones and robotic ping pong trainers

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

Eric Geusz: Apple engineer by day, spaceship designer by night

An Apple software engineer by day, artist Eric Geusz spends his nights drawing everyday household objects as amazing, science fiction-style spaceships. Check out the impressive results.