Posts Tagged ‘1958’

1958 – Astrotug – Lockheed (American)

lockheed astrotug x640 1958   Astrotug   Lockheed (American)

Astrotug in Operation – Artist's Conception

lockheed astrotug 1960 ad x640 1958   Astrotug   Lockheed (American)

The Astrotug

Tugboat for Space: Spaceborne scientific laboratories and platforms for further exploration into space are an accepted concept based on established engineering techniques. Components would be fired  as individual units into space, on precalculated orbits, and there assembled. To solve the major problems of how men are to live and work in space during the assembly process. Lockheed has prepared a detailed engineering design of an astrotug – a manned vehicle housing a crew of two or three. Missile-launched, the astrotug will be capable of supporting its crew for a number of days in an environments of suitable atmosphere, and with provisions for illumination and adequate food and water.
The Lockheed astrotug is a completely independent working vehicle. Personnel need not leave it in space suits in order to work on the project of assembling the space station components. As shown in the diagram, the tug consists of two double-walled pressure vessels approximately 20 feet long overall and 9 feet inside diameter. Swivelling rocket nozzles are arranged for maneuvering. On the forward end, extending out are four mechanical manipulator arms with interchangeable "hands" for such specialized functions as gripping, welding, hammering, cutting, running screws, etc. "Hands" can be changed by remote control from the inside. Viewing ports provide uninterupted observation. Radar antennas, searchlights, and other equipment necessary to the tug's work are mounted externally. Main controls and instruments including radar, radio, infrared, computers and navigational consoles are duplicated in each of the two major compartments as a safety measure.
Men working in single units afloat in space suits would have little applicable force and could work for very limited periods of time. With the Lockheed astrotug, personnel could carry on the work in relative safety and comfort with maximum efficiency. A special reentry vehicle, separate from the astrotug, has been conceived for ferrying to and from earth. Tugs themselved would remain floating in orbit indefinately, being reprovisioned  and refurbished as fresh crews arrive in relief.


lockheed astrotug 2 x640 1958   Astrotug   Lockheed (American)

Astrotug Inboard Profile

lockheed astrotug 1 x640 1958   Astrotug   Lockheed (American)

spaceTug 1963 x500 1958   Astrotug   Lockheed (American)

spaceTug03 x378 1958   Astrotug   Lockheed (American)

spaceTug07 x446 1958   Astrotug   Lockheed (American)

Above 3 images sourced from here.

lockheed spacestation 58 x640 1958   Astrotug   Lockheed (American)

The 1958 Space Station concept for which the tug was proposed to build.

lockheed ferry vehicle 58 x479 1958   Astrotug   Lockheed (American)

The 1958 Transit vehicle to bring crew to the Astrotugs.

lockheed station 63 x250 1958   Astrotug   Lockheed (American)

A 1963 depiction of the Space Station. Note the transition away from the classical 'Wheel' shape.

See other early Teleoperators here.

See other early Lunar and Space Robots here.

1958 – Voice-controlled Lawn Mower – Concept (American)

lawn mower Corbis 42 34769469 x640 1958   Voice controlled Lawn Mower   Concept (American)

Image Source: Corbis.

suburbs vox mower 1958 x640 1958   Voice controlled Lawn Mower   Concept (American)

Electricity may do your yard work. One day, by simply speaking into a microphone, you may be able to command an electric "gardener" to mow the grass, cultivate the flower beds, trim the hedge and do other yard work. And all the while you'll be relaxing in the shade.

Power companies build for your future electric living

See other early remote-controlled and robotic lawn mowers here.


1958 – MASCOT Remote Servo-manipulator – Carlo Mancini et al (Italian)

67 italy robot MASCOT x400 1958   MASCOT Remote Servo manipulator   Carlo Mancini et al (Italian)

MASCOT – (MAnipulatore Servo COntrollato Transistorizzato)

mascot x615 1958   MASCOT Remote Servo manipulator   Carlo Mancini et al (Italian)

robot mascot science journal 68 0003 x640 1958   MASCOT Remote Servo manipulator   Carlo Mancini et al (Italian)


 1958   MASCOT Remote Servo manipulator   Carlo Mancini et al (Italian)

See MASCOT 0:59 secs into above clip at the Palace of Congresses in Rome for the IX Congress of Electronics Exhibition.

Later models of MASCOT were made by Elsag Bailey in the early 1990's. The Mascot first produced by the firm SELENIA in Rome.

MASCOT Coiffet p1 x640 1958   MASCOT Remote Servo manipulator   Carlo Mancini et al (Italian)

The Mk I slave unit only had a single drive motor for mobility.

Note: Initial development of MASCOT started around 1958, not 1960 as mentioned in the article above.

MASCOT P2 x640 1958   MASCOT Remote Servo manipulator   Carlo Mancini et al (Italian)

MASCOT P3 x640 1958   MASCOT Remote Servo manipulator   Carlo Mancini et al (Italian)

The MASCOT slave could also be mounted on an overhead carriage.


The first servo manipulator was developed at Argonne National Laboratory under R. Goertz and involved some 8 years of work. Four of them were installed 9 years ago in the remote handling facility of Argonne, since when there has been no further production. In any case, this type was too big for installation in the PS tunnel. The development work was continued by a team at CNEN (Atomic Energy Commission of Italy) under C. Mancini. The first manipulator of this development was presented around 1960, and after many improvements it was exhibited in Geneva at the time of the Atoms for Peace Conference in 1965. Finally, a new type with reduced overall dimensions was finished in 1968 and installed in an Italian fuel reprocessing plant. This version has been seen and tested by us. Its size and working capacity meet very well the requirements inside the PS tunnel.
The only servo manipulator which can be obtained at present is therefore the one which was developed at CNEN and will be produced now under the name of Mascot by the firm SELENIA in Rome.

ENEA'S ACTIVITIES IN THE FIELD OF NUCLEAR ROBOTICS – An advanced teleoperator, the Mascot, has been developed by ENEA for use in radiation environments.

mascot ena elsag bailey x463 1958   MASCOT Remote Servo manipulator   Carlo Mancini et al (Italian)

A Mk III version of MASCOT.

The Mascot teleoperation system
In 1961 the researchers from ENEA developed the first Mascot unit, a telemanipulator for nuclear plant operation.
This manipulator was, and still is, one of the best machines available in the world as regards the force feeling it can transmit back to the operator (force feedback signals).
The Mascot is a Master/Slave telemanipulator of the force feedback type (see Fig. 1 above). Each arm has seven servo-controlled joints: six links for six degrees-of-freedom plus a gripper. Each joint is driven by its own actuator through gears or steel cables. The control algorithm is based on comparing the position and velocity of the joints of the Master and Slave arm, sensed at the same instant. These values, the position and velocity errors, are then multiplied by adequate proportional coefficients to determine the torques to be applied to the Slave arm actuators (which is thus forced to follow the Master) and to those of the Master arm, to generate the force feedback to the operator. These torques are applied in order to minimize the position errors.

A modern commercial example of a bilateral teleoperation system for use in the nuclear industry is the MAnipolatore Servo COntrollato Transistorizzato (MASCOT) system developed by Elsag Bailey.
This features dual six-DOF, kinematically identical, master and slave arms with full bilateral control. Each arm can move up to 20 kg with an accuracy of 0.5 mm. Communication between master and slave sites is via optical fibre cable. The system has the ability to compensate for the weight of grasped objects (so that those constant forces need not be maintained by the operator). It supports reindexing (so the workspace of the slave manipulator may be larger than that of the corresponding master arm), and has a "teach and repeat" function (so sequences of operations may be stored and later replayed).

The early MASCOTs were analogue based, and only in the 1990's were they digitalized.

Mascot Mantis CERN p1 x640 1958   MASCOT Remote Servo manipulator   Carlo Mancini et al (Italian)

Mascot Mantis CERN p2 x640 1958   MASCOT Remote Servo manipulator   Carlo Mancini et al (Italian)

Mascot Mantis CERN p3 x640 1958   MASCOT Remote Servo manipulator   Carlo Mancini et al (Italian)

mascot slave new x640 1958   MASCOT Remote Servo manipulator   Carlo Mancini et al (Italian)

mascot jet mkIV x263 1958   MASCOT Remote Servo manipulator   Carlo Mancini et al (Italian)

Mascot teleoperator JET 96 x400 1958   MASCOT Remote Servo manipulator   Carlo Mancini et al (Italian)

MASCOT Mk IV specification described in its JET tokamak upgrade in 1990.

"The Mascot IV telemanipulator was chosen by the remote handling group in the late nineteen eighties to form the basis of the remote maintenance system for the JET torus. It is a two arm Master-Slave device with 7 degrees of freedom per arm (including gripper).
The Mascot IV microprocessor (Z8000) controlled system evolved from the analogue Mascot III developed at ENEA in the 1960’s. The Master and Slave controllers are linked by a high speed 1MB serial line, allowing a separation of several kilometres. The Slave unit can be positioned anywhere inside or outside the tokamak, using specially designed robotic transporters, while the Master unit is operated from the remote handling control room.
The ‘man-in-the-loop’ philosophy of using bilateral, force-reflecting, servo-manipulators was considered necessary to provide the flexibility to handle the wide range of maintenance tasks that the constantly evolving JET project would require. Viewing is provided by the ‘Cyclops’ camera mounted on the Slave unit between the arms, two wrist mounted camera’s, a hand-held
mobile camera unit, and other in-vessel camera’s."

H.A. Ballinger, 'Machines with arms', Science Journal, October 1968

Because European governments have not sponsored extraterrestial developments of nuclear power, there has been little money or encouragement for creating free-roving machines with arms.

However, a section of the CNEN Laboratories of Italy under Ing. C. Mancini created in 1960 a note-worthy machine: the MASCOT (Manipulatore Servo Controllato Transistorizzato). This device followed and improved on the techniques of Goertz in mounting a pair of arms, with the described bilateral control, on a mobile 'dolly'. From a console fitted with an identical master arm, a stereo vision screen and a foot control for the dolly's movements, the seated operator can integrate his own subconscious neuro-muscular control into co-ordinated and complex responses of slave's movements. Its one limitation, like that of the others described, is a restriction to floor areas cleared of normal obstructions. But, of all the machines developed, the MASCOT is the most aesthetical engineered device; the machine creates a humanistic impression which generates an impulse to speak orders to the machine rather than to the operator.

The Goertz Teleoperator Model E3 was used by the Italians as a basis for development of the MASCOT servomanipulator.

A few pages from Robotics by John F. Young, 1973 giving specifications of MASCOT. See pdf Mascot-Robotics-J-Young-1973

See other early Teleoperators, Exoskeletons and Industrial Robots here.

1958-62 – “VERSATRAN” Industrial Robot – Harry Johnson & Veljko Milenkovic

versatran AMF bw x640 1958 62   VERSATRAN Industrial Robot   Harry Johnson & Veljko Milenkovic

In 1958, the American Machine and Foundry (AMF) Thermatool Corporation (later known as AMF Corporation, later acquired by Prab Company of Michigan)  initiated an R&D project for a Versatile Transfer Machine, or VERSATRAN, a programmable cylindrical coordinate frame robotic arm designed by Harry Johnson and Veljko Milenkovic. AMF introduced Model 102, a continuous-path transfer device, and Model 212, a point-to-point transfer device, in 1962. 


 1958 62   VERSATRAN Industrial Robot   Harry Johnson & Veljko Milenkovic

3243.02 | AUTOMATIC HANDLING EQUIPMENT CALLED 'VERSATRAN'. (1:02:10:00 – 1:05:52:00) 1967
Hatfield, Hertfordshire. Date found in the old record – 23/02/1967.

Various shots of the 'Versatran' – an artificial arm and a hand construction grab which is controlled from large panels. Developed in the USA by American Machine & Foundry Company. The grab is seen picking up a large bobbin and placing it in a box. The control panel can be programmed in advance so the grab can be operated in advance. Demonstration by Mr D C Hall.

versatran point to point x640 1958 62   VERSATRAN Industrial Robot   Harry Johnson & Veljko Milenkovic

versatran continuous path x640 1958 62   VERSATRAN Industrial Robot   Harry Johnson & Veljko Milenkovic

It was only in 1967 that the Tokyo Machinery Trading Co. in  Japan imports and sells the first industrial robot, a Versatran from AMF, Inc.  Britain aquires its first Industrial Robot, a Versatran, in 1967, by Douglas Hall, as seen in the video clip above.  

RISE OF THE ROBOTS by George Sullivan 1971

A second industrial robot arrived upon the scene in 1963. Manufactured by a division of AMF Thermatool, Inc., this robot is called the Versatran ( from versatile transfer ). It is characterized by a sturdy horizontal arm coupled to a six-foot vertical steel column which is mounted on a rectangular base.
Although they [Unimate] are different in appearance, the Versatran robot and the Unimate have many similarities. Both can handle objects weighing over 150 pounds. Both are built to last for forty thousand working hours. They sell for about the same price, approximately $25,000 [1971].

Industrial Robots at Work
Industrial robots do work of every imaginable type. They spray-paint automobile engines and spot-weld auto bodies. They stack brick and pluck hot parts from presses and die-casting machines.
What the robot does depends on its program. With the Versatran robot, there are two types of program controls. One is called point-to-point control and is the type used for relatively simple jobs. The other, for more complex tasks, is called continuous-path program control.
When programming a point-to-point control operation, the arm movements and functions to be performed are first drawn on a piece of paper. Then this sequence of "orders" is translated into electronic signals. Short lengths of metal-tipped wires, known as "patch cords," are inserted into the holes of a small, black pegboard, called a "patchboard," to correspond to the written orders.
The programmed patchboard locks into the robot's console panel. The board's contacts connect with memory-storing and command devices known as "potentiometers." Once the potentiometers have been adjusted for the various arm positions in the cycle, the machine is ready to operate. The robot user may own several patchboards, each programmed for a different job.
Programming the Versatran robot for "continuous path" operation is a matter of "teaching" the machine the proper motions to follow. A switch in the console is set for "program." The operator then leads the robot arm through all the motions it will later assume on its own. Gripper commands are also acted out. These signals are automatically recorded on magnetic tapes within the control console. There are fifteen minutes of program time available on each of the two reels of tape the console contains.
The Unimate is programmed in similar fashion—by moving the robot arm through the desired sequence of operation. The sequence registers in the machine's memory unit. Once the robot arm has been "taught" a program, it will follow the prescribed set of operations over and over.
"There's no mystery to programming," says one user. "It doesn't even require a mechanical background, much less a knowledge of electronics."
The job the robot is programmed to do may involve several individual tasks.

See Harry Johnson and Veljko Milenkovic related US patents US3212649, US3241020 and US3298006.

versatran x x640 1958 62   VERSATRAN Industrial Robot   Harry Johnson & Veljko Milenkovic

Versatran  0001 x640 1958 62   VERSATRAN Industrial Robot   Harry Johnson & Veljko Milenkovic

versatran 0011 x640 1958 62   VERSATRAN Industrial Robot   Harry Johnson & Veljko Milenkovic

versatran 0001 x640 1958 62   VERSATRAN Industrial Robot   Harry Johnson & Veljko Milenkovic

versatran (2) x640 1958 62   VERSATRAN Industrial Robot   Harry Johnson & Veljko Milenkovic

MosherSciAmP2 x640 1958 62   VERSATRAN Industrial Robot   Harry Johnson & Veljko Milenkovic

Veljko Milenkovic x640 1958 62   VERSATRAN Industrial Robot   Harry Johnson & Veljko Milenkovic

See Milenkovic tribute and mention of Versatran development here.

VERSATRAN robot in the 1971 movie "Silent Running"

silent running versatran 3 x640 1958 62   VERSATRAN Industrial Robot   Harry Johnson & Veljko Milenkovic

The "billiard's" playing robot is actually an AMF Versatran industrial robot.

silent running versatran 4 x640 1958 62   VERSATRAN Industrial Robot   Harry Johnson & Veljko Milenkovic

Regarding "Silent Running", for a 1972 movie, the Versatran was still considered a state-of-the-art industrial robot.

Versatran base SR x640 1958 62   VERSATRAN Industrial Robot   Harry Johnson & Veljko Milenkovic

Two interchangeable end-effectors are shown, a gripper for loading/depositing billiard balls, and a pneumatic "cue" to strike the ball (below). The standard two-fingered Versatran gripper picks up a B.A.S.E.(tm) 3-fingered gripped to deposit the balls. Another small continuity error in that when picking up the B.A.S.E.(tm) gripper, the 2 pneumatic lines are not attached, but then magically appear in the next shot (see above).  Also in the above image is the AMF Versatran name/logo, as well as the controller on the left. 

silent running versatran controller x640 1958 62   VERSATRAN Industrial Robot   Harry Johnson & Veljko Milenkovic

The control panel in the background is a real and actual point-to-point Versatran control panel,  used to program the various movie sequences. Although portrayed as "thinking for itself" , this robot would have to be choreographed and programmed via the point-to-point controller.

versatran making of 1958 62   VERSATRAN Industrial Robot   Harry Johnson & Veljko Milenkovic

1957-8 – “Toffee-kun” the Robot Elephant – “Kowa Display Company” (Japanese)

Japanese elephant 1958 1957 8   Toffee kun the Robot Elephant   Kowa Display Company (Japanese)

Caption: 森永製菓のロボット象、街を行く=熊本市内 (English translation: Morinaga robot elephant goes to the town-city Kumamoto)

Other than the image, I have little other information about this mechanical elephant. Image was taken in 1958 in Japan, I believe.

 1957 8   Toffee kun the Robot Elephant   Kowa Display Company (Japanese)

RH update Feb 2011 – Thanks to Hisashi Moriyama from Japan I now  have the following information.

Robot Elephant was made for campaign by Morinaga, a confectionery company.
The actual manufacturer is "Kowa display co., inc."

The elephant was named "Toffee-kun".
2.4m high, 3.15m long.
25h.p. automobile engine.
Real ivories were attached.

"Toffee-kun" visited 162 cities, the visiting lasted about a year. The campaign was very effective.

キャ ラメルの絶対的な王座は、戦後も黄色のサック入り森永ミルクキャラメルが占めていた。さらに昭和30年代前後には、新しい味のキャラメルが続々と登場。英 国風のトッフィータイプのものは、アソートキャンデーの一種として以前からつくられていたが、いわゆるポケット物として昭和32年に初めて発売された森永 トッフィーキャラメル(20円)は、強力な店頭宣伝に特徴があった。このキャラメルのサックには英国宮殿の近衛兵の姿がデザインされていた。これにちなん で等身大のブリキ看板を数千枚つくり、全国の有力菓子店々頭に配置、大々的に人目を引く作戦に出た。
こ のトッフィー君が全国を行脚し、各地でのパレードのにぎわいが新聞やラジオ、テレビなどで盛んに報道された。25馬力の自動車用エンジンを搭載し、首や鼻 を動かしながらのっしのっしと歩くさまは、遠目には本物と区別がつけられなかった。訪問先は全国162都市、総行程2万キロ、ロボット象の歩行総距離は 660キロ、訪問期間は約1年に及び、大きな宣伝効果を上げた。

Google translation (uncorrected – see brief form above):

You toffee robot elephant
Pilgrimage across the country you toffee robot elephant
Caramel absolute throne, occupied by Hisashi Mori milk caramel into a yellow sack after the war. Further around 1955, appeared one after the new caramel flavor. Toffitaipu ones like Britain, which had previously been made from a type of Asotokyande, Toffikyarameru Hisashi Mori was released in 1957 as the first of the so-called pockets (£ 20) is a powerful counter propaganda were characterized. A sack of caramel, it was not designed the figure of the Palace Guards UK. To make several thousand life-size tin signs named after this place we head the country's leading confectionery and went in a big eye-catching campaign.
The same year Hisashi Mori in the press inviting Korakuen amusement park in Tokyo, conducted a naming ceremony and presentation of the world's first robot elephant. Put the real teeth height 2.4 m, length 3.15 m giant elephant with a sophisticated and you are named toffee.
This pilgrimage to the country you toffee, newspapers and radio around the hustle and bustle of the parade was reported extensively in television. Equipped with a 25-horsepower automobile engine, our walking, moving Nosshinosshi neck and nose, a distance and did not put genuine distinction. Visiting 162 cities nationwide, 20,000 km of total stroke, total distance 660 km walking robot elephant, during the visit about a year and raised the great hype effect.

The Elephant appears to have rigid legs with powered wheels. Its head is also larger than other Mechanical Elephants I have seen.