1945 – Radio Jockey – Gernsback / Leslie (American)

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Caption: This electronic Robot might have prevented the horse-racing ban, but it would cause technological unemployment among the jockey fraternity.

Source: Radio-Craft for March, 1945.
RADIO JOCKEY – Electronically-Controlled Robot Rider By ERIC LESLIE
HORSE-RACING—the game of kings—has one great weakness. The suspicion of "fixed" races, of "pulled" horses and of dishonest jockeys, has prevented this sport from taking its place with such American national institutions as baseball or football. Even where track officials make every effort to keep their races "clean," an unsavory aura still attaches to the practice of racing horses.
A freak race in the early days of radio broadcasting gave rise to suggestions for a type of horse-race in which the jockey would be eliminated. The event referred to took place at the Cook County Fair, Chicago, in 1922. A horse—appropriately named Radio—raced with no jockey other than a radio receiving set and a horn loudspeaker on his back. His jockey, or more properly trainer, remained in the stands at the microphone of a small transmitter, giving directions and shouting encouragement. According to reports, as the horse came into the home stretch the trainer shouted, "Come on, Radio! Come on, boy !" and the horse responded nobly, just as if the trainer had been sitting on his back and was urging him on toward the finish line.
Spectacular as the stunt was at that stage of the development of radio, it proved only that the speaker was no substitute for a jockey, who not only with voice, but with hand and heel, urges his mount on to victory.

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Some years ago [CZ: prior to 1945], H. Gernsback proposed a device which uses equipment and methods not available in 1922 to supply all these. The loud-speaker works as in the older setup, the reins and crop are controlled front transmitters in the stands, at which the trainers can sit comfortably while watching the progress of their "mounts" at any part of the track. The "jockey" would consist of a modern radio receiver, with outputs fitted both to a speaker and to relays which would set into action motors which control the arms to which the reins are attached, or operate the crop. Additional motors can be provided—or attachments made to those used-which would permit changing the posture of the "jockey", causing it to lean further forward or rise upright, to sway to the left or the right, as may be required during the race. It is well-known that a jockey uses his body as well as his voice and the reins in guiding his horse.
Should there be any suggestion of "pulling" or other unfair action, it would not be necessary to depend on the opposed statements of a pair of jockeys, neither of whom might have been in the best condition—either physically or emotionally—to note actually what had happened during the portion of a second in which many of these incidents occur. A complete record of all the jockey's actions can be kept on a tape which would form a part of the transmitting apparatus, so that there could be no dispute as to how any incident had occurred or how much restraint was applied to a horse at any given period during a race.
Old-time sports may believe that such a system would take the "kick" out of racing, but they do flock to the dog-races to watch the electric rabbit !

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Caption: "Jockeys" who are electronic experts, and have to watch their fingers instead of their weight may help to make this proposed Radio Robot a reality.


Gernsback resurrects the idea in his annual publication "Forecast" (distributed late 1961).

Source: The Deseret News, 27 Dec 1961.
If Robots Replace Jockeys What Happens to Racing? Forecast Of Future Finds 'Robots' Replacing Jockeys….

INEZ ROBB The holiday season always brings to my door a pair of publications that brighten life considerably. The first is the Farmers' Almanac, without which I would never know quite when to put on my long underwear, plant potatoes, or mothproof the woolen closet……………  

The second publication to spread knowledge and happiness through the household is the annual "Forecast" of Hugo Gernsback, widely acclaimed as "the father of science fiction" and the editor and publisher of Radio-Electronics Magazine. Gernsback is a man on rapport with the future, to say the least. And while I am overjoyed to know that if I can live until 1986, the threat of atomic, hydrogen, cobalt or any other missile is kaput (the submarine demises two years earlier), nonetheless, the most sensational prediction in "1962 Forecast" is of concern to The Society for Improvement of the Breed of Bookies. Sometimes in the future – Gernsback doesn't pinpoint the date electronics will replace the jockey. Or rather the jockey won't be up. The future Sande or Hartack or Arcaro will be in a remote control tower that can do anything the jockey does, including whipping." Instead of saddle and rider, the horse will carry a power pack weighing 35 to 50 pounds that will be capable of "reining" any future Native Dancer.

Presumably the power packs will be painted in the colors or the respective stables of owners, although this is a fanciful thought of my own that I hand on to Gernsback. From his control tower the jockey will be able to sweet-talk; his horse home, since the steed will be wired for sound.

Gernsback believes his system, already feasible in his opinion, will make "for faster and more scientific races."
There are only two problems here: (1) Can you "fix a power pack? (2) Will the future jockey, manipulating in his control tower a panel that looks as complicated as that of a jet plane, have to show a degree from M.l.T. or Cal Tech? Since I am not a horse player, I don't know whether Gernsback's prediction will kill or cure racing. But there it is, for tote board and bookie alike to ponder. ……………

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Arthur Radebaugh's interpretation of Gernsback's Electronic Jockey. 1962.


Camel Jockey

A robot jockey is commonly used on camels in camel racing as a replacement for human jockeys. Developed since 2004, the robotic jockeys are slowly phasing out the use of human jockeys, which in the case of camel racing in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, and Qatar, often employs small children who reportedly suffer repeated systemic human rights abuses. In response to international condemnation of such abuses, the nations of Qatar and the UAE have banned the use of human jockeys in favor of robots. See more in Wikipedia here.

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Patent info.


See also Syd Mead's Racimals here.

See the timeline on other Animal Control here.


1820 – Prosopographus, the Automaton Artist – Charles Hervé

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Prosopographus

Selected extract from the full post by Patrick Feaster here.

Between 1820 and 1835, a machine was exhibited around Great Britain that was advertised as taking people’s portraits by strictly automatic means.  Someone had only to pay a shilling and sit perfectly still next to it for the space of a minute to obtain a likeness alleged to be more accurate than anything a living artist could have drawn.  The machine relied on principles very different from those of photography, first introduced to the world via the daguerreotype in 1839, and its portraits didn’t anticipate the photographic portraits of later years in any technical sense.  However, they did anticipate them quite closely in a cultural sense.  As far as subjects were concerned, they might have gone to get their pictures taken by this machine in 1825, and again by a photographic camera in 1845, without perceiving any fundamental difference between the two experiences.  In both cases, they would have been told that their likenesses were being captured automatically, without the mediation of a human observer, although they might still have paid extra for someone to touch up the results afterwards or add color to them.  The earlier machine went by the name of “Prosopographus, the Automaton Artist,” and it produced silhouettes—thousands upon thousands of them, if reports from the time are to be believed.  I was recently fortunate enough to acquire one, which is what prompted me to pull together the following account.

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In appearance, Prosopographus was a miniature android figure dressed in fancy Spanish costume, shown above as illustrated on a period handbill.  I’ll refer to it here myself as “it,” but contemporaries generally anthropomorphized it as “him,” consistent with the grammatical gender of its Greco-Latinate name: Prosopo- (“face”) -graph- (“writer”) –us (second declension nominative masculine ending).  It held a pencil in its hand, and when someone sat down next to it, it would use this pencil—within full view of spectators—to trace an outline of the person’s profile.  The process was described variously as taking less than a minute, half a minute, or less than half a minute, but subjects had to hold perfectly still during that time: “The least movement on the part of the sitter will occasion the Automaton to shake his head, and the operation of taking the outline to be recommenced.  Advertisements emphasized that this work was carried out “without even touching the Face, and indeed “without touching, or having the slightest communication with the Person.  Daylight wasn’t necessary either, patrons were assured, so that likenesses could continue to be taken after sunset.  The proprietor never revealed the specific process used to capture people’s profiles, but it was claimed to be wholly mechanical, and hence superhuman in its accuracy.  Thus, Prosopographus was billed as “performing more perfect resemblances than is in the power of any living hand to trace,  and as “so contrived that by means of mechanism it is enabled to trace a more accurate and pleasing resemblance of any face that may be presented than could be produced through the agency of any LIVING artist whatever.

The basic portrait to which every visitor was entitled by default seems to have consisted of the profile painted in black, and some later advertisements specified that this included glass and a frame.  For a surcharge, however, the profiles could also be cut out, shaded, bronzed, or done up in full color, as well as mounted in a fancier frame, at prices up to thirty guineas if anyone cared to pay that much. The result, in any case, was something visually indistinguishable from a conventional silhouette portrait of the period.

And that complicates our present ability to identify surviving specimens of Prosopographus’s work.  According to Profiles of the Past, a website dedicated to the history of British silhouette portraiture, “very few silhouettes [by Prosopographus] are known today,” even though countless thousands are said to have been taken.  Technically, however, what’s rare is a silhouette that can be attributed to Prosopographus because it’s labeled that way on the back.  The few reported types of Prosopographus trade label are linked to just a few exhibition venues, so it may be that silhouettes taken in other places weren’t labeled, making them impossible to tell apart from “ordinary” silhouettes.  For all we know, nearly all unlabeled silhouettes of the 1820s and 1830s might be the work of Prosopographus, which would make them extremely common.  However, it’s only when there’s a label that we know for sure what we have.

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The Prosopographus portrait I recently acquired is one of those with the Halifax trade label and promotional text on the back, augmented by a handwritten inscription identifying its subject as Ellen Waterhouse.  The silhouette itself is a likeness of the basic type that was thrown in free with the price of admission: the profile painted in black, with just a few embellishments added in the same color to represent hair and veil.


See the full post by Patrick Feaster here.


See other early Robots in Art and Drawing Machines here.


1978-80 – RCV-150 ROV – Arthur B. Billet (American)

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1982 – RCV-150 Remote Controlled Vehicle System by Arthur B. Billet, principal engineer, Hydro Products, Inc., a Tetra Tech Co., wholly owned by Honeywell.

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Image Source: here.

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Technician checks out the RCV-150, Hydro Product’s largest deep-diving robot vehicle, one of the increasing number of such remote-controlled devices that are rapidly replacing human divers for many underwater tasks. (MUST PHOTO CREDIT: Los Angeles Times Photo by Dave Gatley) Illustrates RCV, by Barbara Bry (Times), moved Monday, July 19. (c) 1982, Los Angeles Times.

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The big brother of the RCV -225, the RCV-150 was developed as a highly maneuverable, light-work capable ROV. This vehicle, in addition to being a flying eyeball, has a four function manipulator capability including both a rotary saw, pinching blade and grabber jaw. The RCV-150 has recently been fitted with a second four function arm extending the work capabilities to much more extensive and complex tasks.

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MANIPULATOR ARM
Figure 9 shows the manipulator assembly. The manipulator is a five-function work arm normally stowed inside the lower framework in the vehicle. A rotary actuator at a “shoulder” joint allows for stow and unstow motion of the arm. An actuator at the “wrist” allows grabber jaws to pivot in a 245-degree arc. The jaws are opened and closed by a linear piston actuator. A pinching blade, capable of cutting 3/4 inch polypropylene line, is actuated simultaneously with the jaws.


See other early Underwater Robots here.


1985 – Direct Link Prehensor (DLP) – John W. Jameson (American)

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1985 – Direct Link Prehensor (DLP) by John W. Jameson.

The project stalled in 1986. Originally designed for astronaut hard suits, it was later licensed to Nuytco for its atmospheric diving systems, or ADS, particularly the then new Exosuit.

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The Prehensor is a manipulator that matches the dexterity of a gloved human hand. External ‘fingers’ mimic the exact movements of the inside ‘master’ hand and provide full, 100% reflexive index-ability of the external thumb, in concert with the number of other digits employed. In addition, the outside ‘slave hand’ provides directly proportional sensory feedback of pressure, weight, etc., to the inside master hand (yours!).

The unique capabilities of the Prehensor were developed specifically with the Nuytco ADS ‘Exosuit’ in mind, but the system can easily replace existing simple jaw-style manipulators for use on ADS units. An electronically-controlled version is under development for use on remotely operated vehicles (ROV’s) and deep submersibles. There also has been discussion with the national space agencies of several countries on the use of the ‘Prehensor’ as a possible alternative to the conventional space-suit gloves.

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Mechanical prehensor

Publication number US4984951 A
Publication type Grant
Application number US 07/412,540
Publication date 15 Jan 1991
Filing date 22 Sep 1989
Priority date 20 Jan 1988
Fee status Lapsed
Inventor John W. Jameson
Original Assignee The Board Of Trustees Of The Leland Stanford Junior University

The patent was later licensed to Nuytco Research Ltd. around 1990.

A generally anthropomorphic prehensor having at least two mechanical finger apparatus which interface directly with an object being grasped by apparatus of mechanical linking and control mechanisms operatively connected to the operator's fingers. Each mechanical finger has at least two finger links adjacent one another, each finger link independently rotatable about parallel axes in a plane of movement in response to movements of the corresponding phalanges of the operator's fingers. The mechanical prehensor is particularly useful in hostile or hazardous environments such as outer space, underwater, nuclear reactor sites or other hazardous environments, since the mechanical finger means are external to the operator's hand and may be constructed from suitable materials which are unreactive with the hostile environment, while the operator's hand and mechanical linking and control components may be sealed from the hazardous environment by means of a suitable protective shroud.
BACKGROUND ART

Manipulation means resembling crude pincers have been used in connection with diving suits for deep sea operations. The "Jim Suit", manufactured by UMEL of Farnborough, England, for example, has rudimentary external pincers for grasping which are mechanically actuated by hand movements, and it provides a gas-tight shroud around control mechanisms manipulable by the operator's hand. The pincers are claw-like, having two opposed finger means rotatable about a single axis in generally the same plane of movement. Mechanically actuated pincers of this type have some utility in grasping objects in hostile environments, but they achieve only a clamping-type grasp, and thus they provide limited external dexterity and manipulation.

Space suits developed for extra-vehicular activities in outer space typically have gloves for covering the hands of the space explorer. Due to pressurization inside the space suit and gloves, however, the gloves become very stiff during extra-vehicular activities, resulting in limited external dexterity and excessive hand fatigue.

Robotic manipulation devices having a plurality of finger means simulating human finger motions are currently being developed which may have some application in hostile environments. Robotic manipulation devices having multiple fingers capable of executing multiple degree of freedom movements are typically controlled electronically and require substantial amounts of energy for operation. While these types of robotic manipulation devices provide a high degree of external dexterity, the energy required for operation and the bulk of the control mechanisms render them impractical for use in many hostile environments.

It is an object of the present invention to provide a generally anthropomorphic prehensor having external finger means mechanically controllable by movements of the operator's fingers.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a generally anthropomorphic mechanical prehensor providing enhanced dexterity in hazardous environments which operates in response to movements of the operator's fingers and has no supplemental energy requirements.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a hand-powered mechanical prehensor which significantly reduces operator hand fatigue and increases operator safety and dexterity in hostile environments. It is yet another object of the present invention to provide a prehensor having at least two external mechanical finger means, each mechanical finger means capable of selectively executing multiple motions in a plane of motion, thus providing enhanced mechanical fingertip prehension and the ability to grasp and manipulate objects in a hostile environment. It is still another object of the present invention to provide a generally anthropomorphic prehensor having external finger means mechanically actuated by movements of the operator's fingers which provides smooth, accurate, sensitive mechanical finger control, and which is reliable and simple to operate.

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Selected stills from the above video clip.

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With the shroud completed the DLP was ready to place on the spacesuit for testing. But there was a problem. It turned out that not enough attention was given to the ability of extracting the fingers from the control rings for doffing the DLP, and it was never tested with a suit. The Challenger accident [1986] curtailed the project before this could be corrected.


Trivia: John W. Jameson is the same person who designed and built the amazing Walking Gyro!


See other early Underwater Robots here.


1997-2000 – “Exosuit” Development – R. T. “Phil” Nuytten (Canadian)

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The EXOSUIT mock-up by R. T. "Phil" Nuytten from 1999.

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Sylvia Earle with the Exosuit mock-up in 1999.

The Exosuit is Phil Nuytten's next generation Atmospheric Diving System following from his successful Newtsuit.

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Sport Diver Nov-Dec 2005

Dr. Phil and the Amazing Exosuit by Daryl Carson.
EXOSUIT
If you haven't heard of diving's Dr. Phil, here's a tip: He's nothing like the one you might find on weekday television. His genius is in solving mechanical difficulties, and he's applied that genius to building fantastic machines for sub-sea use. In a career spanning four decades, he's produced numerous underwater vehicles worthy of science fiction.
Most sport divers know Dr. Phil Nuytten as the face peering from the clear mask of the Newtsuit, a one-atmosphere, hard-shell diving suit that looks like a yellow Michelin Man. Some know him, too, as the creator of the DeepWorker micro-submersibles used by Sylvia Earle during the Sustainable Seas Expeditions begun in the late '90s. However, in 2000 the diving world got another big shot of Nuytten when Dr. Phil unveiled the Exosuit. Since then divers have been salivating over the possibilities created by this pressure suit capable of free-swimming to depths of 600 feet. Even more tantalizing has been talk of a model aimed at the recreational market and priced this side of six figures.
After more than five years of beta testing, a production model is incredibly close. I had the chance to speak with Dr. Phil recently, and he happily admits he's "running out of excuses" not to put the Exosuit on the market. (Work on the suit was slowed due to resources poured into the DeepWorker project. It seems they can't build the little subs fast enough.)
Three issues have been hampering production, and two of them have recently been overcome. One was the cost of making the joints that give the Exosuit its flexibility, but a new approach has greatly reduced that expense. Another was developing a five-fingered hand (not shown) instead of the simple claw found on the Newtsuit. Dr. Phil says he now has a fully mechanical device that works in concert with the human hand. It's sensitive enough to allow the user to pick up a pen and sign his name. The last hurdle is performing swimming trials, which, if all goes well, could take place as early as next spring.
"I'm hoping to recover a lot of our engineering costs on the first 50 to 75 units," says Dr. Phil, who points out that military and underwater construction applications will be the most prominent. "But eventually I'd like to get the cost down to that of a couple of Volkswagens."
EXOSUIT
Materials: Composite fiber hull with metal inserts
Manipulator: Simple claw manipulator or optional multi-fingered prehensor "hand" [edited]
Models: Free-swimming, self-contained and surface-supplied
Height: Variable 5'6" to 6'4"
Beam: 20" torso, 30" elbow to elbow (average)
Weight in Air: 120 lb. bare; 160 lb. with tanks and scrubber pack
Operating Depth: 300/600 feet
Payload: 200 lb.
Life Support: Dual external cylinders (02, diluent — gas that's mixed with 02 to make it safer to breathe); 48 man-hours


The Exosuit has taken longer to get to market than expected. These images are some 10 or more years since the initial development.

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The well-proven pincer-styled gripper. A new prehensor is offered as an option.

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This image, promoting the HUBLOT wristwatch, highlights the size of the hand cowling of the Exosuit.

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A later image still showing the 'swimmer' option still being promoted.

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Phil Nuytten has proposed a project called "Vent Base Alpha". "I have a plan for an underwater Mars-like colony. It will essentially be powered by the heat vents on the ocean floor and will house people to work on an undersea mining operation out of the heat vents. I´ve spent the last couple of years talking to people all around the world about this concept, and I´m ready to see it happen. I call it Vent Base Alpha."


See other early Underwater Robots here.