Virginia Tech robot enters contest centered around solutions for future Fukushima-like disasters

The Roanoke Times

Posted: Friday, June 5, 2015 3:30 pm

BLACKSBURG — The nuclear disaster four years ago in Japan after a tsunami hit the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant limited human involvement, particularly at the start, because of the radiation involved.

But John Seminatore, who’s pursuing a doctorate in mechanical engineering at Virginia Tech, said a robot could have done the job to limit or alleviate the damage.

“It’s not a very complicated task,” he said about the actual pumping of water on reactors, something that could have helped the situation in Japan. “The thing is that robots can do things people can’t.”

Seminatore and some other Virginia Tech students are currently in Pomona, California, where they are participating in a robotics competition hosted by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency — the agency within the U.S. Department of Defense that is involved in developing new technologies for the military.