Toshiba Develops Robot that can Work Through High Radiation

December 23, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. withstand  (v.) [with-stand, with-] – to successfully resist
Example: The building was able to withstand the earthquake.

2. deactivate (v.) [dee-ak-tuh-veyt] – to make something inactive or stop from functioning
Example: Once deactivated, the machine can no longer be useful.

3. bring about (idiom) [bring uh-bout] – to cause something to happen
Example: The charity program was brought about by the efforts of different organizations.

4. chamber (n.) [cheym-ber] – an enclosed space inside the body, house, or machine
Example: The waiter entered the chamber where the bottles of wine are stored.

5. reboot (v.) [ree-bootree-boot] – to turn off a machine and then turn it on again
Example: He rebooted the computer when the screen froze.

Read the text below.

Toshiba Corporation has recently developed a robot that can withstand high levels of radiation. The robot could be useful in helping deactivate the damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Japan.

Fukushima power plant’s suppression chamber, which contains radioactive materials, was damaged during the earthquake-tsunami disaster in March last year. Humans cannot go near the damaged chamber because they risk getting diseases such as cancer from radiation.

Toshiba’s senior manager Goro Yanase said there was a need to examine the inside of the chamber, and that need brought about the creation of the four-legged robot.

The new robot, controlled through a wireless network, was designed to explore damaged power plants. It can measure radiation levels and has six cameras. Toshiba says it can withstand 100 millisieverts of nuclear radiation within a year, and even higher levels of radiation within shorter periods.

However, the robot still has some technical problems. During a demonstration for the media, the robot suddenly stopped moving. Several people had to carry the robot and reboot it. The robot was also slow in climbing up stairs, taking about a minute for every step. If it were to fall, it would not be able to stand up on its own.

Moving inside the Fukushima plant may be difficult with the robot’s current state. The Tokyo Electric Power Company has expressed interest in using the robot to check damaged areas in the plant, although the company has not yet made a final decision.

Completely deactivating the nuclear plant is expected to take several decades.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         What is your opinion of robots being used to do work in dangerous situations?
·         Do you think robots in the future can replace humans even in normal work situations?

Discussion B

·         Do you think people in your country are satisfied with the different technologies available to them?  Why or why not?
·         What can the government, scientists or even regular people do so that a country can get needed technology faster?  


December 23, 2012