This week Hitachi is finally ready to send its snake/crawler hybrid robot into the heart of Fukushima Daiichi’s severely melted-down reactor #1, and a Japanese booze maker that owns an American booze maker wants to get cozier and it’s kind of funny.
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(Missed the deets on where the JTFF has been for the past 19 months but absotively must know? Hop back to last week for the windy breakdown.)
:: JTFF – February 6, 2015 ::
• Hitachi’s Radiation-Proof Robot Ready to Enter Reactor No. 1
We’re approaching 4 years since the magnitude 9.0 Tohoku earthquake shifted the earth’s axis by 4-10 inches and moved Japan’s entire main island, Honshu, eight feet to the east. The subsequent tsunami left 15,889 dead, 2601 missing, injured more than 6000, and precipitated the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Japan was wildly unprepared to deal with the latter and powerless to halt the eventual meltdown of 3 of the plant’s 6 reactors. It was immediately clear that stronger, more agile, and more radiation-resistant robots were desperately needed for damage assessment, recovery, and cleanup/decommissioning; over several months and years, it also became clear that sufficiently advanced machines might have even prevented the meltdowns. Robotics R&D has been in overdrive since, both here in Japan and in the U.S., where, most notably, the DARPA Robotics Challenge is thriving. Hitachi was slowly plodding along on similar projects years before the disaster, and their redoubled post-3.11 efforts now have them ready to send a transforming, hybrid snake/tracked robot inside reactor number 1 – it will be the first look therein. The only thing not awesome about this news is that Hitachi has no better name than “Shape-Changing Crawler.” Great gallery in the first link, video in the second.
[FIRST ROBOTIC PROBE TO ENTER FUKUSHIMA REACTOR – AP VIA THE OLYMPIAN]
[JAPANESE ARTICLE JUST FOR THE VIDEO – ASAHI SHIMBUN DIGITAL]
• Head Dude at Suntory Aims to Get Deeper Into American Booze
Okay, so this isn’t totally tech, but kinda…whiskey and booze and stuff IS a kind of technology. It’s just, you know, moderately amusing…like, how many Americans are aware that, since last May, Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, and Knob Creek (among a whole lotta other boozes) are produced by a Japanese-owned company? Few, one imagines, very few. Oh, and Takeshi Niinami, the aforementioned head dude, has plans to aggressively integrate the Suntory and Beam brands, so soon it’ll be like Jim Beam-San. No, probably not really, but one can hope.
[SUNTORY CHIEF FOCUSES ON BEAM INTEGRATION – FINANCIAL TIMES]