Archive for the ‘Bionics’ Category

1945 – Radio Jockey – Gernsback / Leslie (American)


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.

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 !


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. ……………

The_Post_Standard_Sun__May_13__1962_ electronic-jockey-x640

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.





Patent info.

See also Syd Mead's Racimals here.

See the timeline on other Animal Control here.

1971 – A computer controlled multi-task powered exoskeleton for paraplegic patients – Jack George Grundmann / Ali Seireg (American)

University of Wisconsin-Madison Mechanical Engineering Professor Ali Seireg achieved worldwide recognition for his work in mechanical and biomedical engineering design. Among his advances, he was first to develop a mathematical model of the entire human musculoskeletal system that could predict the muscle and joint forces and interactions, given a motion input. In the early 1970s, he performed pioneering research on using powered exoskeletons to help disabled people rehabilitate and walk. Here are a few iterations of Seireg's "walking machines," and his demonstration of their use.

Ali Seireg was the supervising Professor, but the exoskeleton was built by Jack George Grundmann.

Source: The Wisconsin Engineer – Volume 77, Number 2 (November 1972)

Everyone Should Walk by Steve Sanborn
Caption: Jack Grundmann is shown above wearing the walking device he constructed under the guidance of Prof. Seireg of the Mechanical Engineering Department.
During the 1971 Engineering Exposition people on this campus were exposed for the first time to a walking device.  This device was a three legged robot powered by compressed air. Actually it was not a complete robot but only the walking portion, just the legs.
  The mechanism was constructed to be a model, a mechanical analog of a walking human. It could have been built with only two legs rather than three, but since it weighed 260 pounds it would have damaged easily if tipped over. The third leg provided extra stability.
  Since this original prototype was constructed, a new two legged model has been built. The new model differs considerably from the prototype in many respects. The two legged model is powered by AC current rather than compressed air. Unlike the prototype, the present model is actually worn by a human. This was the goal of the design project, to create a device that would give a person that was unable to use his legs, the ability to walk again. The project is by no means completed. More work has to be done in designing and constructing the third model. Presently Jack Grundmann is testing and altering the second model so as to incorporate new ideas into the third mechanism.
As was mentioned, the first prototype was operated with compressed air. This model was consequently bulky and awkward. Model II is operated by what is described as a puppet system. Cables extend from cams, located in a pack, down the body to the individual joints in which they control. The pack is mounted

Caption: Shown above is the original three legged walking machine.

Caption: This side view shows the long cables extending from the cams in the pack to the joints of the device.

on the shoulder of the person wearing the mechanism. Supports extend from the frame of the mechansim to the pack so that the heavy weight of the device is not felt by the wearer. Within the pack are the six cams that pull the cables causing the person to walk. These cams were designed to cause the joints to move almost exactly the way a normal human moves.
  Ultimately it is desired to make a system that will allow a person that can no longer use his legs to walk forward, backward, turn, sit, stand and walk up and down stairs. Also, the device should be cosmetic. This means that it should be possible to cover the mechanism and its suspension system with normal clothing apparel.
  Model II can only walk forward, Model III will be able to preform all these tasks. Model III will not be supported by bulky metal braces and tubes as were previous models. Instead, plastics and fiberglass will be incorporated as structural supports. To replace the bulky joints, electronic servo mechanisms will be employed. The use of electronics will allow a number of mini-programs to be place in a very small computer, carried by the person using the device. Each program would cause the mechanism to move, initating the motions a human makes. The programs would be turned on and off by the person wearing the device. There would be one program for each sequence of movements such as walking or for sitting.
  Very little has been done in the past three centuries in the area of prosthesis. The plastic leg of today is nothing more than an adaptation of the wooden leg of the seventeenth century. It is unfortunate that the technology of today has not been applied sooner to help paralized people walk again.
  This attempt at the University of Wisconsin College of Engineering requires the encouragement and support of all people concerned with restoring the ability to walk to those who can not.


Kaiser Chair of Mechanical Engineering Ali Seireg was best known for his research on biomechanics, or treating the human body as a machine. He taught in the College of Engineering for 31 years before his retirement in 1997 and maintained a presence on campus until his death in 2002. He authored seven books and more than 300 papers, edited two journals for the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and created a “walking-machine” for paraplegics, which was exhibited at the Seattle World’s Fair and the History of Medicine and Science Museum in London. He was an award-winning educator and internationally recognized engineer.

See other early Teleoperators, Exoskeletons and Industrial Robots here.

1976 – Pneumatic Exoskeleton Prosthesis – Pierre Rabischong (French)

Revolutionizing Techniques of Orthosis and Prosthesis
Professor Pierre Rabischong of the Montpellier Propara Centre watches as a female patient and her physical therapist use a machine developed by Professor Rabischong. This machine allows the patient in rehabilitation to maintain her balance while inciting her muscles to move. The system functions according to the master-slave concept. The physical therapist makes the movements first and the machine transfers them to the patient's machine, who then follows.
Stock Photo ID: 42-17253903
Date Photographed: 01 September 1983
Credit: © Eric Preau/Sygma/Corbis

Figure 4.4.2.(2) Active modular orthesis for lower limbs (OMAMI) (Rabischong, INSERM, France, 1983): 1 and 2, potentiometers for the master orthesis, worn by the patient; 3 and 4, slave hydraulic actuators for the patient. Contention on the segments is ensured by the presence of inflatable pieces reinforced with strips of composite material (carbon fibre). The hydraulic system was produced by Renault, the orthesis by Aerazure. The kinematic walking model, developed by the Automation and Microelectronics Laboratory, Montpellier (LAMM) is intended to be used and to give the
patient greater autonomy. Photo courtesy of INSERM ASSISTED WALKING
Following on from the work of Tomovic the Yugoslav, Rabischong applied the problem of assistance to those with paralysis of the lower limbs using a motorized orthesis. His original idea (Rabischong et al., 1978; Hill, 1976-1) consisted of controlling the orthesis by unilateral positional servocontrol using two exoskeleton legs worn by the patient [see Figure 4.4.2.(2)]. The second version, currently being used experimentally, is hydraulically powered and was produced by Renault. This system is highly promising for training limbs; the extension towards autonomy on the basis of a kinematic computer model of walking is envisaged in the long term. The patient would use two walking sticks.

Source: Robot Technology – Vol 3a – Teleoperations and Robotics: Evolution and Development by  Jean Vertut and Philippe Coiffet, 1986.

Patent US3993056

Publication number    US3993056 A
Publication date    Nov 23, 1976
Filing date    Jan 21, 1976
Inventors    Pierre Rabischong, Jean Pierre Louis Bel
Original Assignee    Institut National De La Sante Et De La Recherche Medicale

An orthopaedic appliance which enables paralytics to stand erect has a fabric garment formed in separate pieces to be tightly wrapped around body parts located between joints the pieces having an inflatable support structures in the form of vertical tubes and devices connecting garment pieces located on opposite sides of a body joint in the form of a separate row of rigid parallel pins attached to the inflatable structure each garment piece and a pivot which can be hydraulically or otherwise driven, interconnecting the rows of pins. The inflatable tubes are located in elongate fabric sheaths and the pins are inserted in fabric sheaths defined between the tube sheaths so that when the tubes are inflated they clamp the pins between them.

See also later patent US4169467.

See other early Teleoperators, Exoskeletons and Industrial Robots here.

1926 – Der Mensch als Industriepalast (Man as Industrial Palace) – Fritz Kahn (German-Jew)

Fritz Kahn (1888–1968) was a German-Jewish gynaecologist and science author who developed a sophisticated graphic analogy between anatomy and machinery. His work was widely distributed in Germany until it was banned under the Nazi regime. He continued to publish, relocating to Palestine and Paris before escaping to the USA with the help of Albert Einstein. In a later work from 1943, he describes the relationship between man and machine: “[they] exhibit far-reaching similarities. Both derive their energy from the combustion of carbon, which they obtain from plants. Man, the weaker machine, utilizes fresh plants for fuel, while the locomotive, a stronger machine, uses fossilized plants in the form of coal.”

Der Mensch als Industriepalast (Man as Industrial Palace). Stuttgart, 1926. Chromolithograph. National Library of Medicine.

Kahn’s modernist visualization of the digestive and respiratory system as "industrial palace," really a chemical plant, was conceived in a period when the German chemical industry was the world’s most advanced.

Early info-graphics of the mind drawing influences from the scientific and artistic movements of the time

Cover of David Fishlock's book, Man Modified.

Fritz Kahn (1888-1968).
There is a new book by Taschen on Kahn, based on an earlier exhibition in 2010. See The Times of Israel article here.

See the timeline on Cyborgs and Bionics here.


More Meccano Walking Machines & Robots

Meccano model of GE's Walking Truck designed by Hugh Henry.

All legs are completely rotatable in the same direction.

For a complete set of images see the NZ Meccano web site here.  Thanks Antonio Gual for encouraging  Tony Brown (the author of the Modelplan) who found some pictures of Hugh Henry's original.

(Has anyone built this model? I wouldn't mind getting some more pics and possible Youtube clip of this.)

Walking Steam Boat

Above model by Anthony Burkitt.

The Meccano Steam Boat Construction Set is part of popular the Crazy Inventors series of 5 multi model motorised sets.

You can build 3 different unique models with the 363 wood, metal and plastic parts in the Steam Boat Crazy Inventors Erector Set. Included in the set are a legs with suspensions, an anchor with chain, gears, tools and a character. A 6V motor (requires 4 AA batteries -included) allows the vehicle to really walk.

Other Meccano models:

Konkoly Walking Camel by Gary Higgins

See a selection of Konkoly walking models here. Thanks Antonio Gual for the link.

Mechanical Elephant model 1954.

Mechanical Kangaroo – Gravity walker. 1969.

Man learning to walk on a treadmill.