From bioRobot To (Long Overdue) iRobot In 25 Short Years

Tyler Durden's picture

Three days ago, Zero Hedge asked the question that seems so mindnumbingly logical and obvious, it was perfectly normal that nobody in charge had asked it yet, i.e. "Why isnt Fukushima crawling with iRobots armed with cameras?" Luckily, someone in Japan appears to read our Twitter account: as was just repoted, "The Special Ops group of Japan's Self Defense Forces has asked iRobot for some robotic assistance with the situation at the Fukushima Dai-1 nuclear plant, where several reactors are dangerously unstable after a 9.0-magnitude earthquake followed by a tsunami led to failures of their cooling systems last week. Four robots, including iRobot's Packbot 510 and Warrior 710, left Bedford, Mass., this morning on their way to Japan, along with a team of iRobot employees to provide support, an iRobot spokesperson told me." Um, it took them one week to figure out that there is a public company (probably trading at nosebleed valuations) that does just what everybody has been bitching and moaning can not be done in Fukushima by humans...ONE WEEK!? Anyway, at least the option will now be there. Although as the following video presents, a comparable option was available 25 years ago in Chernobyl. Well, with a few minor differences...


h/t BobDabolina

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bob_dabolina's picture

"Averted a 2nd explosion that could have wiped out half of Europe" in the first few minutes is enough to sober ya up real quick.

How many reactors in Japan are in trouble again?

But this is definately not a "7" right? Right, got it.

Cursive's picture


Riveting.  Thanks for this footage.

johny2's picture

The scale of this tragedy could never be captured in a documentary of hour and a half, but this is a good introduction to the scale of " level 7 " nuclear accident. Scary and sad.

Buckaroo Banzai's picture

Wow. Fascinating documentary. Never realized what a staggering achievement it was to clean up the Chernobyl disaster. 500,000 men (most of whom, if they haven't already died, still suffer from the effects of the radiation) mobilized for a gigantic civil engineering project. To construct the sarcophagus, each man could only work a few minutes at a time-- obviously requiring a monumental effort of coordination and planning under the pressure of the highest stakes imaginable.

whatsinaname's picture

Have read somewhere that under high radiation, robot electronics starts to fall apart.

three chord sloth's picture

I thought Japan was on the cutting edge of robot research... why don't they have something like this of their own?

Michael's picture

Lookit. Nothing you geniuses think you thought of before the people in charge did is stupid thinking. You are not smarter than they are. They make a million times what you make to figure these things out well in advance of a tragedy like this. It's all already been seen by the owners of you. They already have the inside scoop. Do you think you are of any use to them whatever? Give me a fucking brake.

Daphneisfedup's picture

99 times out of 100, yes, the experts will have thought of idea X and discarded it for some good reason - or because they are corrupt.

There is that 1 out of 100th time, though.

Also, sometimes we are not expecting that it's a new idea, we are just wondering why idea X doesn't work.

VyseLegendaire's picture

Right.  Thats exactly why the IPP in NY has had a leak for a solid 18 years.  Cuz the Masters are always omnipresent and beneficent.

New_Meat's picture

"...has had a leak for a solid 18 years."

well, intermittent at best.

- Ned

Urban Roman's picture

It only leaks when there's water in it.

Mesquite's picture

Try 'break..'

And the book was out long, long ago,

for those that might read...


BorisTheBlade's picture

Perhaps everyone just missed this part of the video above that says that robots were used in Chernobyl before they broke down because of extremely high radiation. Sorry, might not work in this case either.

gordengeko's picture

The Japanese on the cutting edge of robot technology? Please... they are so far behind the curve.(sarc)

meanwhile the U.S. would rather develop robots for some other weird and creepy reason.

apparently neither of which are radiation proof.


Real Estate Geek's picture

Hey, I like that first one.  When will they come out with the "Pam Anderson at age 20" model?

reader2010's picture

When Gubbermint fucks things up, joe six-packs have to die.

jeff montanye's picture

they had plenty of "private sector" help.

MayIMommaDogFace2theBananaPatch's picture

Maybe IRobot should have thought of sending equipment sooner?  Hard to get volunteers for that field trip, I guess.

alien-IQ's picture

We should offer to send in Ann Coulter with a video camera and a cell phone. No doubt she'd be ok with that since she has stated that radiation is actually good for you and works as a sort of vaccine against cancer...and let's face it...who doesn't want a vaccine against cancer?

Michael's picture

Ann Coulter is controlled opposition. A lot of people take her word for it. God help our planet with people like her in it.

High Plains Drifter's picture

I was thinking about why a place like Japan is not using robots?  Hmmmm?

now this, a blast from the past , 1997

"Others are engaging even in an eco- type of terrorism whereby they can alter the climate, set off earthquakes, volcanoes remotely through the use of electromagnetic waves......"


Presenter: Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen April 28, 1997 8:45 AM EDT

I knew someone had talked about creating earthquakes before. Hmmm...

HAARP Fluxgate Magnetometer

Bazaar non? Événements étranges plus d'au haarp, non ?

Who knows if they made this happen or not, but there is some interesting information out there to ponder, that is all I am saying on it........

dark pools of soros's picture

Cohen??   nothing to suspect there


put in 20110312 as the end date...  nice chart

Michael's picture

That name "Cohen" keeps coming up for some reason?

SNL Style V Comedy Sketch Steve Cohen AKA Nathan Thurm

Oh regional Indian's picture

It's all a big show now folks. Grand, sad theater. iRobot. 

Roooooooomba. I will suck up all this nasty radiation and digest it in my digital intestines adn use it's force to pwer myself for the next million years. 

The solution lies in mico-moves. Not mega moves. Start to spiral in to the core, not jump in/on it and try to beat it out.

A genie has to be coaxed back into his lamp, not stuffed back into it.

But such talk is probably wasted on engineers.

Quick question.....

What is the most radiation absorbent material in the world?

Which is the most radiation resistant material in the world?

Are wither in short supply, when the fate of the world hangs in balance?


Number 156's picture

What I dont understand, is that they say this disaster is the same level as that of three mile island. I must be missing something here, because:

1, Three mile island didnt blow their reactor buildings sky high,

2, Three mile island didnt set fire to half of their inventory of spare nuclear fuel.

Just wait until those rods begin to really melt, because as the rack slumps to the bottom of the pool, it will reach criticalitly again, and then its bound to find its way below the foundation of the building, or worse (more likely) , hit water and blow particles of MOX all over the place.


And another aside;

I would like to see some thermal imaging of the reactor bulding. That would tell a lot more than video would.

bob_dabolina's picture

No it us completely normal that you feel like you are missing something because the government is lying about EVERYTHING.

Seriously with these types of incidents the chance of getting anything true is about 1/10 of 1% You literally can't trust anything.

Do some research on Chernobyl documentaries or even 3 Mile Island and the one thing that is consistent is the fever bitch that dishonesty is prevelant. No truth is ever said.

Mesquite's picture

Sort of reminds one of the message in

the movie 'Jaws'...


New_Meat's picture

156: evidently you do understand.  TMI-2 didn't release the way we're seeing, didn't have spent fuel inside containment, and didn't have the base mat shoved 3 meters or so in whatever direction Honshu went. So this incident is between TMI and Chernobyl (no actual core material in the parking lot) - Ned

johnnyj01's picture

I agree Number 156.

The fuel never melted through the reactor vessel at TMI.  A significant amount of "core stuff" did make it to the basement of the reactor building (blown out through a stuck open relief valve) but that is different than a molten slag in the basement like the Chernobyl accident.


No fire (evidence of a small H2 explosion as I recall in containment).  No where near breaching containment.


Yes, very disturbing that the thermal images are not disclosed.  It is also true that they don't yet know the full story themselves.


Being a multi-disciplined veteran of the industry in the US for 25 years, I must say I have been suprised by the damage, slowness of respose, and lack of effectivness.  The Japanese have ingnored many recommendations for safety upgrades from the the US, such as backup portable diesel generators and hose to get water to the spent fuel pools in a "station black out" such as this one.  They decided not to put their emergency fuel tanks under ground so that they would not be vulnerable to the Tsunami etc.


I am supremely confident in the TMI exposure data, nil health effects on the surrounding population etc.  I don't have the same level of confidence based on what the Japanese government is saying and the disparity between that and our NRC.


I don't even want to think about the spent fuel pool going critical! 


It's painful not to have all of the facts, but without hard data, speculation is just that.  It's not very useful or accurrate.


JohnG's picture

I am not superstitous but...


TheJudge2012's picture

Or they could've used Ann Coulter.

homersimpson's picture

Didn't you mistype Nancy Pelosi? After all, at least Ann can generate her own money while Nancy just takes it from US taxpayers without asking..

SilverRhino's picture

Sad part of that video.  All those guys are dead.   7000 rads an hour?   Holy SHIT!!

And it took the japs a fucking week to get a robot??  It's like they WANT Tokyo to die.


bob_dabolina's picture

They don't need robots. They have a group of 50 skeleton workers that are immune to this shit.

NotAlwaysSo's picture


At least they will have accurate surveillance and damage assessment now. We could be witnessing a revolution for robotics here. Ironic that Japan couldn't source this competence domestically. That Warrior 710 is a serious piece of kit.

Judge Judy Scheinlok's picture

Silicon based circuitry is no match for radiation. Had they invented beefed up lead circuitry with a lead ground plane then I might think the robots could get a little closer but....

It's theater. Happytalk bullshit.

Stuck on Zero's picture

A company in my town had a lot of work when the Russians were battling Chernobyl. The company made old fashioned vidicon cameras with tubes and old TTL logic processors.  They could take a hell of a lot of radiation.  Modern CMOS electronics died in a few minutes.  There are hundreds of robots entombed in Chernobyl.

Mesquite's picture


Unfortunately there are some that just want

to argue and spread disinfo...

Integrity and an open mind, (and experience)

are not always a given...

NotAlwaysSo's picture

JJS, so how does all that electronic equipment in orbit survive?

I know hysteria is trendy right now, but saying robots can't survive in this environment is not exactly a factually based argument.

Milton Waddams's picture

Culture fail occurs when a relatively small segment of society makes the determination that saving face takes precedent over saving lives.

Take heed Americans, I would bet dollars to doughnuts that Bernanke is willing to completely destroy whatever remains of the economy in an effort to prove his economic theories (QE). On a similar note you might recall Greenspan's mea culpa:

ALAN GREENSPAN: Well, remember that what an ideology is, is a conceptual framework with the way people deal with reality. Everyone has one. You have to -- to exist, you need an ideology. The question is whether it is accurate or not.

And what I'm saying to you is, yes, I found a flaw. I don't know how significant or permanent it is, but I've been very distressed by that fact.

At any rate- don't hate the sociopath, hate the game.

Hunch Trader's picture

Isn't it Honda with that snappy walking humanoid robot...they're good just for publicity stunt shows?


alien-IQ's picture

They'll be used in the next stage of expansion for Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. It's gonna be faaaaabulous!!!

Yes We Can. But Lets Not.'s picture

Did you hear that Justin Bieber was added at Tussaud's?

Now you can go there and view a waxed bieber.

jimclayton's picture

I have been wondering all week why the US military does not send one of those bird-sized stealth aircraft with cameras in to look around the damaged buildings.

Perhaps they already have.

Judge Judy Scheinlok's picture

Perhaps she'd melt in about 1/10 of a millisecond. I'm glad they saved the effort and monies. DARPA ain't no dummies.

X. Kurt OSis's picture

The answer is simple. Obtaining hard evidence of the condition in the reactors and around the spent fuel rod pools would pretty much end the discussion on whether there's a snowball in hell's chance of turning this situation around. Governments lie. Facts get in the way of that lying. Telling CNN that dropping buckets of water out of helicopters and running extension cords to blown water pumps is going to work helps the government stall the inevitable and time is an asset. A page right out of the FOMC manual.

TruthInSunshine's picture



Google cache of story - since taken down.

References Zero Hedge.

No cover up. Suuuuure.


By Miriam Raftery
March 16, 2011 (San Diego) 12:30 a.m. -- A radiation map on the U.S. Environmental Protection Service shows radiation levels at measuring stations across the United States.  There is a disturbing pattern showing gamma radiation levels along the West Coast, Alaska and Hawaii at two to ten times levels on the East Coast, with midwest states in mid-ranges:

 The EPA radiation site ( has a database but does not appear to list what units this map is measured in, so it is difficult to assess whether these levels should be of concern. However it's clear from the map that levels are highest in all West Coast states, Hawaii, Alaska, Arizona and  Nevada, all with measures in the 900s, tapering off as you move eastward, with measurements on the East Coast ranging from around 100 to 400. 
The map displays gamma radiation.  The site states that gamma radiation is only measured when beta radiation is found to exceed normal levels
Gamma radiation is the type of radiation being spewed forth from at least four failed Japanese nuclear reactors, including two where authorities have indicated the core has been breached, plus a spent fuel rod pond where radiation was released directly into the atmosphere.  In low levels, gamma rays can cause nausea and other effects.  In high levels, it can cause more serious health effects both short and long term, including cancer and birth defects.
East County Magazine will be contacting the EPA when their office opens for an explanation on the measurements.  Earlier today, the EPA issued a statement indicating it will deploy more electronic monitors that measure radiatiolevels in the air. The monitors, which detect gamma radiation and radioactive particles, will be set up in "parts of the Western U.S. and U.S. territories," the agency said in a statement.
EPA officials, however, refused to answer questions or make staff members available to explain the exact location and number of monitors, or the levels of radiation, if any, being recorded at existing monitors in California, the San Jose Mercury-News reports. Margot Perez-Sullivan at the EPA's regional headquarters in San Francisco, said the agency's written statement would stand on its own.
Critics said the public needs more information.
"It's disappointing," said Bill Magavern, director of Sierra Club California. "I have a strong suspicion that EPA is being silenced by those in the federal government who don't want anything to stand in the way of a nuclear power expansion in this country, heavily subsidized by taxpayer money."
The EPA has 124 air monitors, which provide hourly readings, already in place in its "Rad-Net" system to measure radiation, including 12 in California and two in Hawaii. California locations include San Jose, Sacramento, Fresno, Los Angeles and San Diego; however the San Diego monitor is listed as "inactive" on another EPA database. The EPA also has 40 mobile monitors, some of which are now being deployed. The agency clarified that some would go to Guam, Hawaii and Alaska, but did not respond to questions about California, the Mercury-News said.
"As the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has said, we do not expect to see radiation at harmful levels reaching the U.S. from damaged Japanese nuclear power plants," the EPA statement yesterday stated.
Government regulatory agencies and nuclear experts have repeatedly said that high levels of radiation are unlikely to hit California in significant quantities because Japan is 5,000 miles away. However, studies from the California Air Resources Board have found that coal dust and other pollution from China regularly reaches the state.
Most experts said that if the Japanese reactors experience a complete Chernobyl-type explosion, fire and release of nuclear material, some could reach California, but "probably in very low amounts," the Mercury- News reports.
The Japanese government now has a website with radiation readings there posted online, however Fukushima and certain other locations are listed as "under survey" and have not been releaesd.  You can view the current data here:
There is an analysis and screenshots of the Japanese data here that indicates gamma radiation levels were extremely high 100 miles or so from the explosions and fires at the Fukushima nuclear reactors. The website Zero Hedge analysis concludes that "the data is stunning: based on a N, NE and NNE wind direction (where it originates), meaning all coming from Fukushima, with a normal reading in the 80 nGy/h range, the city of Kounosu Naka is at 3,024, Kadobe Naka is at 2,416, Isobe Hitachioota is at 1,213 and many others are in the mid to upper triple digit range! Again, this is based on wind coming out of Fukushima and ultimately headed toward the capital. Indicatively, normal terrestrial plus cosmic gamma radiation is about 80 nGy/h."  See  
ECM cautions that we do not know whether these sites are using comparable measurements to the EPA site or not, nor even whether West Coast gamma measurements are customarily comparable to East Coast measurements or not, nor whether the higher levels on this map are due to the ongoing nuclear crisis in Japan.  However we believe in giving the public all information available.   We will be seeking expert comments at the earliest opportunity.