NUCLEAR SERVICE ROBOT – 21095
Robots are well suited to handling dangerous materials. This is because, if there is an accident in an environment populated only by machines, no human lives will be lost. In the case of radioactive substances, robots can be used and operated by remote control, so that people will not be exposed to the radiation. The remote control is accomplished by means of teleoperation and/or telepresence.
Nuclear service robots have been used for some time in the maintenance of atomic power plants. One such machine, called ROSA, was designed and built by Westinghouse Corporation. It has been used to repair and replace heat-exchanger tubes in the boilers. The level of radiation is extremely high in this environment. It is difficult for human beings to do these tasks without endangering their health. If people spend more than a few minutes per month at such work, the accumulated radiation dose exceeds safety limits. Long-term overexposure to radiation increases the incidence of cancer and birth defects. Short-term, extreme exposure can cause radiation sickness or death.
Robots disarm nuclear warheads. If an errant missile is found with an unexploded warhead, it is better to use machines to eliminate the danger, rather than subjecting people to the risk (and mental stress) of the job.