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Radioactive Robot: The Machines That Cleaned Up Three Mile Island

Robots cleaned up what humans could not because of radioactive contamination after the worst nuclear accident in the nation's history 30 years ago

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WORKHORSE:

"Red" Whittaker sits atop Workhorse in a picture from the 1980s, surrounded by the team that helped build it.....[ More ]

REDBOT:

The CoreSampler was the second of three robots built by a team of students led by "Red" Whittaker to help with the TMI sweep up; it carried a column of drills that allowed engineers to take samples from the walls of the reactor's basement to test for radioactive contamination.....[ More ]

RAD ROVER:

In a photo from the 1980s Whittaker sits in a control room with the Rover, or Remote Reconnaissance Vehicle, a robot he built with students that carried lights and cameras and provided engineers with the first video images of Three Mile Island's contaminated basement after the nation's worst nuke accident there on March 28, 1979.....[ More ]

NUKE BUSTER:

Whittaker grasps a mechanical claw, or manipulator, on Workhorse, a robot built to tear apart concrete structures and clean surfaces, among other things.....[ More ]

GLOWING CLEAN:

Whittaker explains the features of Workhorse, which has system redundancy and was designed to be internally pressurized to force out possible radioactive contamination that might get caught between parts.....[ More ]

SCRUB ROBOT SCRUBBED:

Whittaker discusses building Workhorse, which was constructed to help scrub up and remove debris from TMI but was never used.....[ More ]

RED HEAD:

"Red" Whittaker, a world-renowned robot designer, describes the features of the Workhorse, a robot he built with students as part of an effort to clean up damaged Unit 2 at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant.....[ More ]

ROBOT RELIEF:

William "Red" Whittaker, a robotics professor at Carnegie Mellon University, stands outside the university's National Robotics Engineering Center in Pittsburgh. Whittaker assembled a team of students in the 1980s  to build three robots designed to help clean up the basement of a damaged reactor at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant.....[ More ]

THREE MILE ISLAND:

One of the two nuclear reactors at this facility in 1979 suffered a partial meltdown and released radioactivity  into the atmosphere—the worst nuclear power accident in U.S. history.....[ More ]

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