Fukushima is a "roach motel" for robots

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Joined: Feb 25, 2011 1:55 am

Re: Fukushima is a "roach motel" for robots

Post by Asteroza » Apr 14, 2016 8:28 pm

For tethered robots, is the rad environment too harsh to allow a remote setup where the bot is mostly actuators (hydraulic even) and fiber optics sends back visuals in an endoscope manner (analog, not digital) that a remote machine vision system can process into commands for the mostly hydraulic robot with fluidic controls (or oversized electronics/vacuum tube based)? Sensor information could potentially be simplified into certain optical fibers giving simple on/off signals. Trying to make the robot more dumb/dieselpunk style and all the delicate parts back inthe operator's cabin.

I understand that rad clouding of plastics/glass complicates the remote vision though.

Kurt Sellner
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Joined: Nov 14, 2013 7:47 pm
Location: Iowa, USA

Re: Fukushima is a "roach motel" for robots

Post by Kurt Sellner » Apr 15, 2016 12:41 am

Asteroza wrote:...
Trying to make the robot more dumb/dieselpunk style and all the delicate parts back inthe operator's cabin.
As a ham radio operator, something of an audiophile, someone just getting into playing music, and a general techo-geek I run with a crowd that loves and hoards vacuum tubes and other old electronics. The inherent protection against radiation that some of this old technology has is relatively well known but there is not much of a market for it so it remains the realm of wealthy hoarders to acquire. Trying to build a business of selling things like this to an industry that does not like to see prices and availability vary like these collectibles is not wise. Even to an industry like the electric utilities that is not afraid of using old tech.

I had a conversation earlier today with my brother on how with today's large population and ease of making small runs of products with current technology it is much easier to make a profitable business making something that only a very small fraction of the population would buy. With the internet and modern shipping it's much easier to find and serve these small markets.

I'd think that what you propose may come to be in a relatively short amount of time. There is a market for rad hard products but it is very small right now. Part of this is because in many cases one can get around the problem by using shielding, redundant systems, or hoarding what old rad hard tech that remains. As time passes the amount of old tech available will shrink and the market will grow.

I think what we see is an interesting catch-22. Nuclear power is expensive because rad hard tech (not just electronics) is hard to come by, and rad hard tech is hard to come by because there isn't much of a nuclear power industry to buy it.

What I think might change this is a growing demand for rad hard tech in the space travel industry. We are seeing private industry get in this industry now. When it's a government the tech can be one off custom stuff which is very expensive because government bureaucrats don't mind spending other people's money. Governments also have access to rad hard military stuff which private entities cannot get at any price. If nuclear power can get some legs then this market grows. If the doomsday prepper types see this stuff then they can add to the market too.

I believe that such devices can be built that can withstand the radiation present at Fukushima but the cost is much too high to bother in many cases. There is also a learning curve here, the people trying to work this problem don't have a lot to work with since this is a very unique problem. I am optimistic that this is a solvable problem and it can be solved in a manner much like you propose. What we need is enough time for people to figure out what works and what does not and then a market should emerge.
Disclaimer: I am an engineer but not a nuclear engineer, mechanical engineer, chemical engineer, or industrial engineer. My education included electrical, computer, and software engineering.

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