1962-65 – Deepstar 4000 Diving Saucer – Jacques-Yves Cousteau / Westinghouse (French/American)

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Image source: Popular Mechanics, August 1963.

1962 – Deepstar 4000 Diving Saucer – Jacques-Yves Cousteau / Westinghouse launched in 1965.

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26 Jun 1962-NEW YORK: William E. Knox, president of Westinghouse International, demonstrates the flexibility of a remote control arm, part of a unique deep-sea vehicle at a 6/26(/62) press conference. The new  self-propelled vehicle, to be named "Deepstar," which will be built by Westinghouse Electric, will give a three man crew the maneuverability needed to explore the "last frontier on earth." A cutaway drawing of the vehicle appears in the background.


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Manipulator arm is folded away.

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Source: Undersea Studies With The Deep Research Vehicle Deepstar-4000, March 1969

Manipulator and Bottom Sampling Devices
A single mechanical arm (Figure 61) with only three degrees of freedom can be installed in about three hours on DEEPSTAR. This arm weighs 15 pounds, has a maximum reach of 42 inches and can lift about 35 pounds. In most cases, due to the limited dexterity of the arm, the vehicle is manoeuvred in conjunction with the arm  to obtain a sample. A basket, which can extend from the port side of the vehicle, is used to store samples. At the outward end of the arm is an orange peel sampler. Experience showed that the sampler's fingers were often bent and forced out of alignment. A more rugged arm with increased dexterity would be far more effective and a variety of  hands or end samplers is also desirable.

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Image source and for in-depth article see Popular Science, October 1962.

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Initially the S.P. 4000, it was built in collaboration with Westinghouse and became the D.S. 4000, or Deepstar 4000.

Cousteau's futuristic designs were done by his long time friend, Jean Charles Roux. The above illustration being for the S.P. 4000 maquette in Expo 67, Montreal.

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Expo '67, Montreal.

Image source: here

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Source: Tyrone Daily Herald, Jul 14, 1967.


See Cousteau's earlier SP-350 here.

See other early Underwater Robots here.


1961 – Submaray Submersible – Doug Privitt (American)

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1961 – Submaray Submersible by Doug Privitt started being built in 1961 and was launched in 1962.

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Privitt inside Submaray operating the simple rod manipulator arm. It appears to slide inside a ball-and-socket joint, as can be seen in the video clip. Although a simple setup, this arm is quite efficient and versatile. The claw can be interchanged with other tools and attachments using a quick-attachment feature.

Video of Submaray demonstrating its manipulator arm.

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Arm fully extended picking up object.

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Demo of manipulator lifting an anchor

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Arm collecting samples.

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Image source: Manned Submersibles, Frank Bushby, 1976.

See another rod and ball-joint arm here.


See other early Underwater Robots here.


1959 – SP-350 Denise Diving Saucer – Jacques-Yves Cousteau et al (French)

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The SP-350 Denise, famous as the "Diving saucer" (Soucoupe plongeante), is a small submarine designed to hold two people, and is capable of exploring depths of up to 400 metres (1,300 ft). It was invented by Jacques-Yves Cousteau and engineer Jean Mollard at the French Centre for Undersea Research. It was built in the year 1959 and usually operated from Cousteau's ship, the Calypso.

An electrically operated manipulator arm can be fitted at the front of the craft so that objects can be picked up and examined through the portholes.

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MANIPULATORS: One mounter port side forward, hydraulically driven, with two degrees of freedom (shoulder / hand). Basically this is a pivoted arm (rotating in one plane) which folds under the brow when not in use and is extended downward in the vertical to grasp. The vehicle itself can be manoeuvred to attain somewhat greater arm versatility.

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 Jacques-Yves Cousteau with his Diving Saucer Denise.

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The later SP800 showing a similar "clamshell" arm. Image by J.C. Roux. Source: here.

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The later SP1200 showing a similar "clamshell" arm. Image by J.C. Roux. Source: here.


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Self-propelled submersible vessel

Publication number    US3103195 A
Publication type    Grant
Publication date    Sep 10, 1963
Filing date    Jul 12, 1960
Priority date    Jul 22, 1959
Also published as    DE1866612U
Inventors    Laban Andre, Gagnan Emile, Mollard Jean, Cousteau Jacques-Yves
Original Assignee    Spirotechnique

The original French patent No. is FR1241757A.


See other early Underwater Robots here.


1947 – Mechanical Lobster – Harry Rieseberg / Charles Warren (American)

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1947 – Mechanical Lobster model by Harry Rieseberg and Charles Warren.


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Source: Mechanix Illustrated, Nov 1947.
Mechanical “Lobster”

Deep undersea the claws of this tank will rip to the heart of rotting treasure ships.

THERE’S gold down on the ocean floor. Vast fortunes lie hidden in sunken caches, waiting the hand bold enough to stretch down through the dark pressure-packed waters and bring them to light. Now, with the new ultramodern equipment becoming available, treasure expeditions may become big business.

Treasure salvors know the authentic accounts of divers who have recovered immense treasure from sunken galleons, and know too of numerous other sunken craft that still retain great wealth within their rotting hulks. I myself have salvaged many sunken vessels, bringing to the surface much treasure; I, too, have attempted to recover some of the Spanish treasure that remains beneath the Silver Shoals, off Haiti; and I have walked in the sunken city of Port Royal, the fabulously wealthy “Pirates’ Babylon” off Jamaica.

I am positive that there are many more golden doubloons and pieces-of-eight to be had from numerous wrecks on which I have done intensive research; but I have long known, too, that to reach those riches, and others as well, there m

1940 – Diving Bell Arm With Grippers – Friedrich Gall (German)

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1940 – Diving Bell Arm With Grippers by Friedrich Gall
Working arm with grippers for diving chambers

Publication number    DE738760 C
Publication date    Aug 31, 1943
Filing date    Feb 6, 1940
Inventor    Friedrich Gall
Patent Citations (4), Referenced by (3), Classifications (3)
External Links: DPMA, Espacenet


See other related Friedrich Gall inventions here and here.

See other early Underwater Robots here.