Japan looks to use drones for disaster mitigation

The Japan Times

SENDAI – Municipalities and private firms are hoping robots and drones will be able to help with future disaster recovery efforts -- an initiative that incorporates lessons learned from the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake -- by sending out warnings, gauging damage and accessing places were people cannot. To that end, the Sendai Municipal Government is testing a speaker-equipped drone for sending evacuation warnings during flight. Drones are quieter than helicopters, meaning messages would be easier for those on the ground to hear, city officials said. In such a system, the drone would automatically take flight after receiving a warning from the country's J-Alert early warning system and would issue evacuation messages to local residents. In the 2011 disaster, two city government workers and three volunteer fire department rescuers were killed in the tsunami while warning local residents to evacuate.

Creative Uses Of Drone By Europe's Utility Companies


The number of utility companies in the United States is creating value with drone technology. On the other hand, Europe has also been able to use the UAV's in faster, cheaper and safer completion of the project. One of the companies named'ENGIE' used the drone technology to inspect vital components in power plants. Innovation is the major aim of the ENGIE's development. With the usage of drones in the inspection the risk have been reduced plus the work completion have become much faster.

Robot will crawl through pipes to help decommission nuclear facility


There are miles of pipes at a closed uranium enrichment plant in Piketon, Ohio, that no living creature can safely enter. So DOE will use a couple custom robots. Robots have found an important calling working in radioactive environments. In the wake of the Fukushima disaster, teams of Japanese roboticists have created a small army of robots capable of surviving, if only for a few minutes, inside the compromised reactor cores. One of those robots recently transmitted the first photos of nuclear debris from the site.

Pipe-crawling Robot Will Help Decommission DOE Nuclear Facility - News - Carnegie Mellon University


A pair of autonomous robots developed by Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute will soon be driving through miles of pipes at the U.S. Department of Energy's former uranium enrichment plant in Piketon, Ohio, to identify uranium deposits on pipe walls. The CMU robot has demonstrated it can measure radiation levels more accurately from inside the pipe than is possible with external techniques. In addition to savings in labor costs, its use significantly reduces hazards to workers who otherwise must perform external measurements by hand, garbed in protective gear and using lifts or scaffolding to reach elevated pipes. DOE officials estimate the robots could save tens of millions of dollars in completing the characterization of uranium deposits at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon, and save perhaps $50 million at a similar uranium enrichment plant in Paducah, Kentucky. "This will transform the way measurements of uranium deposits are made from now on," predicted William "Red" Whittaker, robotics professor and director of the Field Robotics Center.

Video Friday: Robot Playdate, Big Drone, and Self-Driving Car in Snow

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your Automaton bloggers. We'll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months; here's what we have so far (send us your events!): Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today's videos. Agility Robotics had a good week. Cassie had a meet-and-greet with a four-legged friend during one of our visits to Playground.

U.N. hears how the Fukushima disaster is transforming Japanese students into agents of change

The Japan Times

NEW YORK – For a dozen students from Futaba Future High School in Fukushima Prefecture, a recent visit to the United Nations was a chance to share their plans to improve the lives of others by drawing from their catastrophic earthquake and tsunami experiences as a source of strength. Despite overcoming enormous hurdles in the aftermath of the March 11, 2011, disaster that took more than 19,000 lives, the surviving students have moved forward with aspirations of choosing future paths to benefit the global community. "Thanks to all my experiences like getting bullied, joining the drama club and studying at my high school, I think I could grow well," Satsuki Sekine told U.N. diplomats, staff and youth representatives who gathered to hear their presentation on the current situation in Fukushima early this month as part of a scheduled visit while in New York. The 17-year-old explained how drama can be used to portray the challenges of discrimination and conflict "not as an abstract concept but with specific and visual examples." Recounting how the tsunami rendered her home unlivable, she explained how her life in Tomioka as a normal 9-year-old was turned upside down.

Fukushima professor develops rubber that can make and store power from light, vibration

The Japan Times

Kunio Shimada, a professor of fluid mechanics and energy engineering at Fukushima University, has developed a special rubber that can generate electricity from solar and kinetic energy and save the power generated. The 53-year-old professor, who is from the city of Fukushima, says the rubber is the first of its kind in the world and is trying to patent it in Japan. His discovery could be used to develop artificial skin for robots or shock-resistant solar batteries. Robotics experts have already shown interest in Shimada's technology, which could become part of the prefecture's new initiative aimed at promoting robotics. Shimada has a track record in the field of conductive rubber.

Power transmission line inspection robots


In 2010 I wrote that there were three sponsored research projects to solve the problem of safely inspecting and maintaining high voltage transmission lines using robotics. Existing 2010 methods ranged from humans crawling the lines, to helicopters flying close-by and scanning, to cars and jeeps with people and binoculars attempting to scan with the human eye. In 2014 I described the progress from 2010 including the Japanese start-up HiBot and their inspection robot Expliner which seemed promising. This project got derailed by the Fukushima disaster which took away the funding and attention from Tepco which was forced to refocus all its resources on the disaster. HiBot later sold their IP to Hitachi High-Tech which, thus far, hasn't reported any progress or offered any products.

Tepco to use SoftBank's driverless bus to transport Fukushima workers

The Japan Times

FUKUSHIMA – Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. is set to pick a driverless electric bus made by a SoftBank Group Corp. unit to transport those decommissioning its disaster-crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, informed sources said.

Machine Learning in Electric Load Forecasting


"How can we apply Machine Learning to estimate electric loads?" Electric Load Forecasting if vital for making informed decisions about how to use energy throughout the day. And thanks to modern computational technology, we will be able to do such work by applying Machine Learning in Electric Load Forecasting. A computer algorithm can learn the past behavior of electric loads, and then make models to predict future behavior. Electric utility companies are investing large amounts of resources into developing these systems to increase their infrastructure.