Patent number: 5845540 Filing date: Sep 25, 1997 Issue date: Dec 8, 1998
See full patent here.
A pair of connected joints is provided in a master-slave robotic system each operated by a plurality of force-imparting means. Such force imparting means for the second joint supported on a member controlled by the first joint imparts force to a member controlled by the second joint at an acute angle. A third joint is used with the flexible drive tape partly internal thereto.
TeleOperator/telePresence System / Concept Verification Model (CVM)
The TeleOperator/telePresence System/Concept Verification Model (TOPS/CVM), was developed as the successor to the 'Greenman'. The TOPS/CVM consisted of a 3-DOF (degrees-of-freedom) head, a 3-DOF torso and a dexterous, force-reflective 9- DOF hand coupled to a force-reflective 7-DOF arm.
Fig. 1 TOPS from Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center, San Diego
The operation of TOPS was described as follows:
"… The operator controls the hand/arm combination through an exoskeletal controller, while the torso and head motions are controlled by the operator's torso and head motions. …. … The viewing system provides 1023-line monochrome video to the TOPS/CVM operator and has a 70-degree field of view with full stereo overlap. … … The operator interface allows the TOPS/CVM operator to easily control all major TOPS/CVM functions and modes. This is done through the use of voice control and graphic overlay feedback. The second major interface, the supervisor interface, allows technical test personnel intimate access to all TOPS/CVM sensing and actuation systems."
"Greenman" (1983-1988) – The first anthropomorphic (human configured) manipulator developed at SSC San Diego was the Remote Presence Demonstration System, nicknamed "Greenman". It was assembled in 1983 using MB Associates arms and a SPAWAR Systems Center San Diego-developed torso and head. It had an exoskeletal master controller for the human operator's torso, arms, and head. Its vision system consisted of two 525-line video cameras each having a 35 degree field of view and video camera eyepiece monitors mounted in an aviator's helmet.
Greenman provided SSC San Diego with valuable experience in teleoperation and telepresence issues and designs. Even with its simple claw hands and no force or tactile feedback, novice operators could readily perform manipulative tasks without training. However, it clearly showed that dextrous hands, force feedback, and a high-resolution vision system were necessary for diver-equivalent work capability. Also the Greenman was not designed for in-water use, and demonstration of in-water work was deemed necessary to fully demonstrate the diver-equivalency concept. These shortcomings were later addressed in the TOPS project.
New Industrial Boom Is Displayed by GE
Schenectady General Electric recently displayed the third member of its family of "Industrial manipulators," the Man-Mate CAM 1600 industrial boom for material handling.
The CAM 1600, like other Man-Mate booms, is designed to amplify the operator's strength and retain "human-like" dexterity by following his motions- According to GE officials, this line of industrial booms allows the operator to "feel" the material he handles and react instinctively to it with the ease of lifting a lightweight object by' hand. Basic to this "touch" feature, they said, is a Sens-A-Lift, electro-hydraulic servo control. system.
The CAM 1600 can handle loads up to a nominal capacity of 750 pounds, the capacity depending on the boom's reach and the load-gripper weight. The boom has a 22-foot horizontal reach and 15-foot vertical reach. It rotates on an axis of 300 degrees.
* * *
The Man-Mate series is manufactured by the cybernetics automation and mechanization systems operation of GE's reentry and environmental systems division headquartered here. The line was recently transferred to the division to consolidate the CAM's technology of the company.
The Man-Mate CAM 1600 has been in production service for about 10 months at the General
Electric Appliance Park East in Columia, Md., according to Howard A. Brust, manager-industrial sales for the CAMS Operation.
"The boom is used to sort packaged electric ranges for delivery to the warehouse, transfer time for each being 15-20 seconds.
* * *
The load gripper, or terminal device, is custom-designed to a customer's specific requirement and provides the function of a man's hand. Some terminal devices now in use include vacuum grippers, mechanical jaws and carton cover lifts. Depending on the terminal device used, the boom can handle such diverse objects as large sheets of plate glass or metal, red-hot metal forgings, automobile transmissions or engines and bulky containers," Brust explained.
"Regarding the recent emphasis on personal safety, the Man-Mate offers a means to remove the man from direct contact with the object to be manipulated, particularly where the function cannot be automated for technical reasons. It's also no problem to provide the operator an air-conditioned cab," he added.
Ralph Mosher, then aged 49, with a version of Man-Mate.
Source: Life Magazine 2 May 1969, p36.
Source: Robots: Fact, Fiction and Prediction – Jasia Reichardt.
Man-Mate was made in several versions to handle different loads. The model above was the larger machine, probably with a lifting capacity of 10,000 lb. The Man-Mate 1600 had a smaller capacity of 1600 lb.
Of all the GE CAM prototypes, it appears the range of Man-Mates was the main one to stay in production, even being licenced to AST in Germany (see above).
Western Space and Marine, which was founded by a GE engineer who worked on the Man-Mate line in the 1970s, bought the rights to the Man-Mate technology and continued to develop and improve it. The giant robotic arm, which uses force-feedback to allow the operator to lift loads up to 10,000 lbs, is today used mostly in the forging and foundry industries.
An old Man-Mate "For Sale" a while back.
One of the earliest CAM developments was a simple boom. It can be seen in the two images below.
Apparently the CAM technology was further deployed in these manipulator arms developed for the research submarine, Aluminaut.
The below video clip was recently placed on Youtube by Neil Mizen's son.
The person in the video and in the below pics is Ronald J. Patterson, a technician from Cornell Aeronautical Labs at the time.
Note: The description above incorrectly describes the exoskeleton as having motors. Unfortunately Cornell never got to the powered stage.
Cornell Aeronautical Laboratories of Buffalo, New York were producing papers on Man Amplifiers as early as 1960. In 1961 they received a grant to explore these ideas. Initial work was on an exoskeleton, and later work on a mock-up.
There are some initial concepts one has to be aware of in understanding Man Amplifiers.
Typically there is a master component, and a slave component. In other teleoperated manipulators, they are physically and spatially separate. In the exoskeleton man-amplifier, they are together. In the Cornell Man-Amplifier, one of the problems encountered was the close proximity of the control harness (master) with the powered exoskeleton.
You will often see the phrase "bilateral force feedback with force reflection".
Bilateral force feedback meaning that both the master and slave units have common joints and position and force information can be transmitted in both directions (from operator to task and vice versa). Force feedback is when, for example, an obstacle is met with some resistance, that the resistance is felt back at the master. E.g. if you were to place an object next to a wall, you, as the operator, would feel the wall if the object being held by the slave unit touched it.
Force reflection is force feedback but the power can also be amplified. A force-reflection ratio of 1:1 would be normal force-feedback (compensation for the units weight and inertia). A ratio of 1:10 would mean that, for example, the person operating the master unit would lift an object of 1 kilogram would amplify to 10 kilograms at the powered slave end. The ratio can also go in the other direction and could apply to manipulators such as those used for surgical procedures.
The first prototype man amplifier wasn't to be seen until General Electric built their Hardiman I, based on results from the Cornell research.
There are a few articles on Cornell's Exoskeleton. The pdf's are :