Tokyo Electric Power is putting remote controlled machinery to use at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
This video, released Monday, was shot by a remote-controlled helicopter a day earlier and shows the plants number four reactor building. It was badly damaged when a hydrogen explosion blew the top off the neighboring number three reactor, shown here.
The utility is using the helicopter, and other gear, to reduce the need to send workers into hazardous areas.
The effects of the magnitude-9.0 earthquake, a tsunami estimated at around 15 meters high, and two hydrogen explosions in reactor buildings have left the Fukushima Daiichi site covered in rubble and debris.
Some of the debris has high levels of radioactivity, complicating its removal and the movement of workers around the site.
TEPCO is also using remotely controlled construction machinery to clear debris.
The machinery consists of an excavator and transporter, each equipped with a remote control system. Cameras are mounted on each piece of equipment and TEPCO has set an additional six cameras around areas where work is taking place.
The entire operation is managed from a mobile control room where staff, suited up to protect themselves from the high levels of radiation at the plant, can watch video from the cameras and manipulate the machinery.
The radio control system typically has a range of about 300 meters, but a radio relay station allows the control room to be up to 2 kilometers away.
Video clips shot by workers from helicopters were intially used to get a close-up look at the crippled reactor buildings, but the high levels of radiation meant limits on the amount of time the helicopter could spend above the plant.
The remote control helicopters don't have such restrictions.