The robots heading to Units One and Two were driving into the reactor to shovel earth and bulldoze walls, as well as carrying out more complex tasks such as sampling the atmosphere, detecting radiation and recovering debris for analysis. Some can even climb walls.
They were designed after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster by GIE Intra, a company owned by EDF Energy, which is masterminding Britain’s nuclear rebuilding.
A plane took off from Paris last night with 130 tons of the robot vehicles, some as large as tanks. Also on board were six EDF engineers who can control the robots from six miles away.
Tepco hopes to restore power to all six reactors tomorrow, which would allow the site’s water cooling pump system to be restarted. Workers are also drilling holes in roofs to prevent gas explosions.
The firefighters had set up an unmanned vehicle in front of the reactor building. The vehicle can spray seawater from a height of 22 meters directly into a pool containing spent fuel rods. A pump vehicle supplied seawater through an 800-meter hose.
After adjusting the position of the unmanned vehicle and the direction of its spray, the firefighters left.
The unmanned operation was originally planned to continue for 7 hours. But the fire department extended it by more than 6 hours after a government taskforce asked that water be sprayed for as long as possible.