Nov. 21, 2012 at 8:42 PM ET
The immediate devastation from the disaster at Fukushima's nuclear plants may be over, but lingering radiation still poses a threat to cleanup workers and inspectors. This robot, or rather pair of robots, will go where humans can't (and on four legs, to boot).
The robot pair, called simply the "Quadruped walking robot," was designed by Toshiba specifically for this kind of work. The larger, legged robot can go up and down stairs, allowing it to access places that rolling bots cannot.
But rolling is still a useful skill, so it carries a second robot on its back that can go off on its own after being lowered down on a little crane. You can see it in action in this video:
As you can see, the walking bot isn't the quickest. But what matters isn't speed but versatility — these robots can get anywhere and send back images and radiation readings to their operator.
They're still in the early state of development but worked well enough to show off to the press Wednesday — what remains is adding more battery life and features like waterproofing and further hardening against radiation and temperature.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.