had a great day with the Austin Police Department Technical Unit working with our UAVs and UGVs at the Disaster City chemical train derailment site! They came out as part of experimentation with the use of robots for CBRN disasters.
I have returned to Japan representing CRASAR and the Roboticists Without Borders members who assisted with the deployments to Minamisanriku and Rikuzentakata in April and October. Tomorrow I will join Prof. Satoshi Tadokoro, head of the International Rescue System Institute and our partner in the response and recovery work, and Dr. Anne Emig, our kind facilitator from the National Science Foundation, to attend the memorial service in Minamisanriku. Over 400 miles of coastland were destroyed by the tsunami, but Minamisanriku serves as a symbol for the damage– and the city was especially gracious to allow us to learn about rescue robotics through helping them in a small way.
Minamisanriku is a bit like Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket- small fishing towns that swell with vacationers. When we were there 11 months ago, above the surge line the cherry trees were beginning to blossom around the lovely houses. It was truly Spring with the promise of beauty and renewal. Below the waterline was utter destruction. The views were, are, irreconcilable.
But at the same time the image of flowering cherry blossoms above the debris speaks of mourning the loss of life and livelihood while at the same time acknowledging the resilience of the Japanese people as they move forward.