A coastal area in Fukushima Prefecture’s Minamisoma, which seven years ago was overtaken by tsunami debris, is set to be resurrected as a major robotics research site.
The Fukushima Robot Test Field, a 50-hectare site being built by the Fukushima Prefectural Government, is meant to be used by both domestic and foreign companies to develop robotics technologies.
Takawa Seimitsu initially invested about ¥10 million to develop two robots. One can be used to study radioactive material on the seabed and the other to conduct rescue missions in maritime debris fields. It recently completed a third that it hopes will be used to help decommission the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant managed by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.
The firm has been promoting its robots in Fukushima and beyond, but the effort hasn’t paid off yet. Four years on, it has yet to win a single contract.
Government officials say cooperation between major and local companies will increase with time, but Watanabe said his has yet to receive any requests for collaboration.
“If it continues to be like this, we can’t foresee a future,” Watanabe said.
The site will be the central facility for the Innovation Coast project, the aim of which is to create new industries in tsunami-hit areas. But some of the participants are still waiting for the project to show signs of life.