The Sakura is "very compact, as it has to go down stairways just 70cm wide and turn around on landings that are also 70cm," Eiji Koyanagi fuRO's vice director, told DigiInfo TV at Japan Robot Week last month (watch the video below). "Coolant water is leaking from somewhere inside the reactor, because no matter how much water is pumped in, the level doesn't stay above 60cm. But unless that space can be filled with water, the melted-down fuel rods can't be removed safely, so Sakura's first job is to find out where the cracks are."
Its developers say the robot is especially adept at negotiating stairs and ramps, including changes in slope. "The part [of the buildings] above ground slopes at 40 degrees, and that below ground at 42 degrees," Koyanagi said. "This difference of just two degrees is very hard for a robot to handle. What's more, Sakura has to climb down and then climb up to the top of the suppression pool. That stairway slopes at 53 degrees."
He said fuRO expects to test the robot's mobility and durability in the next month or so. "Once that's done, we'll test its ability to carry the necessary equipment on a stairway. Then we plan to fine-tune Sakura by testing it with TEPCO."
Researchers have been working on a number of alternative chemistries to lithium-ion for next-gen batteries, silicon-air among them. However, while the technology has been viewed as promising and cost-effective, to date researchers haven’t managed to develop a battery of this chemistry with a viable running time -- until now.
Norway-based additive manufacturing company Norsk Titanium is building what it says is the first industrial-scale 3D printing plant in the world for making aerospace-grade metal components. The New York state plant will produce 400 metric tons each year of aerospace-grade, structural titanium parts.
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