The video: After weeks of sending humans into the potentially deadly radiation at the leaky Fukushima nuclear plant, Japan is deploying a fleet of 23 newly designed robots to help. The Quince robots (see video below) are designed to withstand up to two sieverts of radiation — more than twice an instantly fatal dose for humans. They're waterproof enough to move through puddles, and can be remotely operated from more than a mile away. The compact, 60-pound bots will take video and measure radiation in areas humans can't safely access. Japan... robots... what took them so long?
The reaction: Japan is the "superpower" of robotics, but its scientists have been pressured to focus on "home-use and humanoid robots" that can dance, sing, clean, and play the violin, says Andy Choi in AZoRobotics. That's why Japan has had to call in U.S. and European robots, or quickly develop new ones, to go where humans can't. Well, "if any profession was going to be made obsolete by robots, I'm glad it's the St. Bernard," says Brian Barrett in Gizmodo. "Godspeed, tiny rescue robots!" Now, watch these mechanical heroes at work: