Robots aren't up to rescue job following disasters in Japan

Debris keeps out radiation-resistant 'bots; radiation keeps out diggers

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Peter Lyons, the acting assistant secretary for nuclear energy who testified, didn’t give details on what kind of robots it would send or what their additional capabilities might be.

The Air Force has been using a Global Hawk long-range observation drone to help search for survivors. Massachusetts-based iRobot, which makes both Roomba robotic vacuums for consumers and PackBot IED-probing remote-controlled vehicles for the U.S. military, has also sent four robots to assist.

The PackBot is a tracked, mid-sized remote-controlled vehicle, much like the Moni Robo A, so it’s not clear how much more it will be able to help than the Japanese ‘bot.

So far, despite the enormous promise for robots in exactly the kind of dangerous work in hazardous environments with which the Japanese are dealing, robots seem not to be up to the job quite yet.

Kevin Fogarty writes about enterprise IT for ITworld. Follow him on Twitter @KevinFogarty.

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