Robot to take first look inside crippled reactor at Fukushima

The crawler robot that TEPCO will attempt to send into the reactor.

TOKYO -- Tokyo Electric Power will send a robot inside a stricken reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant Friday, attempting to take a direct look at the bottom of the containment vessel, where melted fuel rods settled.

The nuclear fuel debris is too radioactive for people to approach, so the information provided by the robot will help engineers determine how to go about removing the debris and decommissioning the power station over the next 30 to 40 years.

Developed by the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning and Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy, the robot is a shape-changing crawler equipped with a camera and temperature and radiation sensors.

This device will snake through the guide pipe and then bend into a U-shape once inside the containment vessel to crawl around the landing.

It will measure temperatures and radiation levels and capture images at the entrance to the basement, which is thought to be flooded with contaminated water.

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