A remote-controlled robot that enables work to be conducted at heights up to eight metres has been developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI). It is the latest to be built to help clean-up work at Fukushima Daiichi.
|The Super-Giraffe robot can extend up to 8m (Image: MHI)
MHI developed the Super-Giraffe (for Global Innovative Robot Arm for Future Evolution) at the request of the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) with the aim of performing various tasks at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The Super-Giraffe comprises four modules: a platform, a load-lifting module, a robot arm and an attachment tool. The platform module features four-wheel drive and four-wheel steering allowing it to operate in narrow spaces. Outriggers provide extra stability when the robot is being used for work at height. The load lifting-module features a telescopic extension system that can carry loads of over 150kg up to a height of eight metres. The robot arm has seven joints - the same as in a human arm - providing a high level of articulation. A tool for opening and closing valves is attached to this.
In December 2012, MHI unveiled a prototype robot designed to undertake work at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. The robot, named MEISTeR (Maintenance Equipment Integrated System of Telecontrol Robot), boasts two arms which can be fitted with different tools to enable it to carry out tasks such as carrying objects, drilling and opening and closing valves. Each arm can carry objects weighing up to 15kg. MEISTeR moves using crawlers and can climb slopes of up to 40 degrees as well as steps up to 22cm.
By changing the robot arm or tool attachment, the Super-Giraffe can perform various tasks, including nuclear decontamination work. MHI said that, in order to expand the robot's capabilities, it intends to share its technical data with other companies so that "externally created technologies" can be incorporated. MHI is seeking to develop tools for welding, drilling, handling and leak detection.
The Super-Giraffe's lithium-ion battery and recharging system has been customized from those used in Mitsubishi's i-MiEV electric vehicle. The battery allows the robot to be remotely operated for up to five hours before recharging.
Weighing four tonnes, the robot can travel on slopes up to 15 degrees and can reach a top speed of 6 km/h on flat surfaces.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News