The Southwest Research Insititute (SwRI) and University of Pennsylvania’s robotics lab claim they have a drone capable of operating inside the containment structures of the damaged reactors at Fukushima Daiichi. TEPCO provided contract funding for the research work.
The team provided proof the flying drone could operate in the complicated environment inside the damaged containment structures using a mock up. They also claim the drone can withstand the high radiation known to be in the reactor containments. Though no proof of that portion of the research was provided. If this drone can work as advertised it would be a huge leap forward in understanding the meltdowns at Daiichi.
Efforts to inspect the reactor containments with various robots has proven challenging. Some have become stuck, others failed due to the high radiation levels. A flying drone would provide the needed mobility to inspect difficult areas of the containment structure and some of the higher up areas that have yet to be inspected.
No official inspection with this new equipment has been published by TEPCO yet.
A video of the drone in the reactor mock-up below:
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