Japan Nuclear Crisis: "Monirobo," the radiation-monitoring robot, arrives


A remote-controlled disaster monitoring robot has reportedly been dispatched to Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, to measure radiation levels within a site now so contaminated, it is unsafe for humans.

Monirobo ("monitor" + "robot") was developed by the Nuclear Safety Technology Center, at Japan's Ministry of Education. Monirobo is about 32 inches long, 52 inches in diameter, and 52 inches high, and weighs about 1300 pounds (600kg). It can travel up to 131 feet (40m) per minute, and carries a camera and manipulating "arms" with various measuring instruments. The wireless controller can be operated remotely from a distance of up to about three quarters of a mile (1.1km).


Asahi via getnews.jp, more in English at New Scientist.

(Thanks, @wiamse)


  1. to measure radiation levels within a site now so contaminated, it is unsafe for humans.

    so it’s robots that just hooked up the power at the Fukushima plant?

      1. Excellent article.

        What gets me is the factual inaccuracies being perpetuated by the “professional” media are clearly wilful because it sells copy.

    1. This is a sensor-bearing robot designed for the sole purpose of telling you just how fucked you are, from a distance.

  2. …Monirobo is about 32 inches long, 52 inches in diameter…

    It doesn’t look very round to me.

  3. When they determined thhat the facility was damaged, Monirobo should have been dispatched immediately. It could have been sent via helicopter.

    I have heard/read that the spent fuel pool got into trouble “only” because the water got low, because the crew were focused on Reactors 1-3.

    If the emergency concerning the Reactor 4 spent fuel pool is as dangerous as Reactors 1-3 *combined*, and it may be, and it was avoidable, that is a serious lesson to be learned: a rad mon robot has to be among the first on the scene, for those areas too dangerous or damaged to otherwise monitor.

    “Go, Robo!”

  4. About damn time too. All this guessing at the water levels of the spent fuel pools etc. is getting a bit ridiculous.

    Let’s hope these robots can open doors at least, and that they’re not too top-heavy to drive over some rubble if need be. With all the explosions in units 1-4, I bet this is not a very bot-friendly environment.

    They seem to have sent only a single robot, even though the picture seems to indicate they have at least two of these available – why not send both? They have at least four reactors to monitor, plus two more where the spent fuel pools are heating up. Even if the second robot is disassembled in some university lab, I’d put the entire team on a military cargo plane, and tell them they’d better get it up and running by the time they get to their destination…

  5. Gosh, and I had so hoped that the Japanese government had secretly developed an army of giant robots. That would have been a really wonderful surprise. I guess these little fellers, and others like them, will have to serve and do honor to robot-kind.

    I suppose each time has its own fantasies to deal with its challenges. Look at Superman emerging from the growing chaos and horror of the 1930s. I suppose this is mine.

  6. I suppose this is a bit off topic, but thank you for not applying nonexistent precision to the translated units. Most media would take copy saying “the [robot] weighs about 600kg” and publish that in a US newspaper or magazine as “the [robot] weighs about 1,323 lb.”

  7. I wonder how much of this is just because of all the nuclear bureaucracy? Can’t just send in that robot you boffins whipped up in the workshop… it has to be CERTIFIED! Quick, where do we find a certified robot? Oh, there’s only two and it takes thirty years to get more approvals… assuming the planets are aligned properly and we can find the reincarnations of Einstein and Fermi to sign this, this, that and over here… in triplicate please…

  8. It’s described as 52in high, 32in long, 52in diameter. Yet the drawing shows 150cm high and long, 80cm wide. Which comes out to 59in high and long, by 32in wide.

    But it weighs 600kg. Approx 10 people. Is this thing made of solid lead? Will it fall through the floor from being so heavy?

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