Archive for the ‘The Robots’ Category

1960 – “Beauregard” the Robot – Tom Graham (American)

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1960 – "Beauregard" the Robot by Tom Graham.

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There are 17 buttons on the control panel, which Tom uses to make the mechanical man do his bidding. Aided by his machinist dad, the lad labored for 15 months to perfect the robot.

Operating a 17-button control panel, Tom Graham is able to make his home-made automaton move about the room on rollers, move its head, swing its arms, pick up objects and blink its eyes.

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JUNK MAN
"You called, Master?" is what "Beauregard" the robot seems to be saying to Tom Graham, 13, as the latter awakens at home in Madison, Tenn. The youngster utilized junk parts to build his unusual playmate. 27 Feb, 1960.

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When it's time for "Beauregard" to get a little fresh air, Tom needs a helper to get the tin can man outside. Here, Ronnie Smith assists in toting the 100-pound automaton. The rollers beneath the robot's feet require a level surface, so it's seldom taken from the house.

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Source: Buffalo Courier-Express Pictorial, April 24, 1960.

Junk Man

Most boys enjoy a good scrap, but Tom Graham prefers a scrappy playmate who doesn't fight back. Using junk parts, the inventive Madison, Tenn., youngster has built a mechanical pal that's tough as metal but gentle as a kid brother. Aided by his machinist dad, 13-year-old Tom took 15 months to build and perfect his robot playmate. Named "Beauregard," the automaton can "walk" across the room on rollers, pick up objects and blink his two green eyes. It is constructed of old lard cans, coffee cans, an oil drum and discarded furnace pipes. Powered by four castoff electric motors, the robot's innards are a maze of chains, wheels and assorted wires.


See other early Humanoid Robots here.


1965 – “Mr. Obos” the Robot – Lou Nasti (American)

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1965 – "Mr. Obos" the Robot by Lou Nasti (upper right).

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New York Times, March 20, 1965 – By PHILIP H. DOUGHERTY – Print Headline: "So What Else Is New? A Robot Makes Debut on Flatbush Ave."

So What Else Is New? A Robot Makes Debut on Flatbush Ave.

ROBOT IN RESIDENCE: Mr. Obos blinks his many lights at the electronic direction of his inventor, Louis Nasti, in the basement of the Nasti apartment house in Flatbush. Besides blinking, robot walks, talks and moves arms.

The other fellows around East 38th Street and Flatbush Avenue have had a pretty busy winter, what with shooting pool at Cannon's, going to dances and all that.
But where has Louis Nasti been? He's been in the basement of the Styling by Silhouette beauty parlor every free minute, and what he's been doing has really become a neighborhood topic. No wonder, for how many fellows are building 6-foot 5-inch, copper-colored robots around Flatbush Avenue these days?
Mr. Obos (he's the robot) was showing off the other night in the basement of 1866 Flatbush Avenue that he shares with a furnace. Nineteen-year-old, 5-foot 4-inch Louis was at the lecternlike, 23-switch control panel as Mr. Obos, in a deep, taped voice, ticked off his physical assets.
"I can do 11 different things." bragged Mr. Obos, antenna twirling as blue eyes and red nose blinked.
"He's great," interrupted Mrs. Marie Nasti, her plump 5-foot frame unable to hold all of her pride. It was not clear whether she was speaking of her son, the inventor, or the invention.
"There are 100 lights outlining my body and 475 feet of running wire from the back of my leg to my controls," continued Mr. Obos with some satisfaction.
Mr. Obos's chin flapped and torso spun in half circles on its marble-mounted waistline as nine little electric motors whirred silently.

"It comes apart in five pieces," young Louis said, leaping to open Mr. Obos's right ankle where a 21-foot power-bearing cable enters the body. The wires are connected to a cable, the cable is connected to a switch panel, the panel is connected to an outlet — oh hear the word of Con Ed.
"It looks sharp in the dark." said young Louis, a thin, well-dressed young man with wavy black hair, interrupting both his mother and Mr. Obos.
Louis explained that he built the robot for the employees' hobby show at Abraham & Straus, where he is in home furnishings display. "They really like me there." he said. Louis has also built a coffinlike box for Mr. Obos and plans to move him to the store today.
Upstairs in the Nastis' three-room apartment (father Attilion was still at work), Louis talked of some of the other thing's he has built, including a robot who did the twist.
"When I was at Midwood High School (he was graduated in 1963) I built a rocket and a radar interceptor—had two airplanes take off and actually collide in the classroom." he said.
Now that Mr. Obos, who got his name from Sobos glue, is finished and all the papier-mache in place and painted on its body of five-gallon oil cans, Louis feels let down. "I went down to the cellar and just sat and looked at him last night." he said.
But he has future plans. "I think," Louis said, "I'll build a family of robots-remote controlled with radio waves-that look like soldiers, not robots." There was a faraway look in his eyes.

Thanks to Lou Nasti and colleague Bob Kovacs in providing the New York Times article.


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Lou Nasti, looking rather like Disney's Geppetto, set up his animated display's business in 1969 and is still going strong. See Animated Displays Inc.

He has a robot called Rodney.

Comment source: here. c2013.

Lou Nasti is famous for his animated window displays. His work is very amiable and seems like it appeals to the younger audience, however can be a fun experience for all ages. Enjoyment and entertainment is found everywhere in his displays. His “Santa’s workshop” can be found in Brooklyn commonly known as Lou Nasti’s Brooklyn company, Mechanical Displays Inc. He is well known for creating displays that have holiday themes and bring out the fantasy in every holiday, such as Santa Claus and his elves. These famous displays can mainly be found in department stores such as Macy’s.

His famous career started as a teenager when he started as a window dresser. His fame up roared when he created a talking and walking robot. His work is amazing and is viewed by many every year. However the main obstacle for Lou Nasti every year is putting up a Christmas tree in his own home. Despite this obstacle, he still creates the best displays filled with imagination. His displays circulate around the country, that’s how good he is.

Another important obstacle that not only Lou Nasti faces but department stores face is online shopping and how it has affected businesses in stores. It’s up to Lou Nasti to work night and day to change this and help boost up this line of work. His theme seems to be “bigger is better.” Lou Nasti continues to work hard, recently creating a huge children’s train ride through a sprawling peppermint forest for the Galt House Hotel in Louisville, Ky. However, his foremost project is to create a life sized theme park named Nasti Land.


See other early Humanoid Robots here.


1954 – “Sylvania Sam” Promotional Robot – (American)

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1954 – "Sylvania Sam" Promotional Robot.

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The "Sylvania Sam" Promotional Robot was a 9-foot tall talking "electronic" robot that tells you all about pink "Softlight" bulbs.

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See other early Humanoid Robots here.


1984 – FETAL I Omnidirectional Robot – William H. T. La (Vietnamese/American)

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FETAL I had its major public appearance at the International Personal Robots Congress (IPRC) held in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1984.

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Fetal I, constructed by Bill La, is a three-wheeled vehicle capable of moving in any direction, A later prototype, Fetal II [no picture available], was presented a Golden Droid award at the 1984 IPRC.

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FETAL I at the IPRC 1984. Images by Richard Moyle via David Buckley's Historic Robots.

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IPRC-Robotics Age Aug 1984.
Sunday was the day everyone had been waiting for, the awards brunch, Nelson Winkless, the official historian for IPRC, acted as master of ceremonies. After his opening remarks and thanks to the many behind-the-scenes personnel, Nels got down to the most important part of the program, the presentation of the Golden Droid awards.
The Golden Droid awards were presented in three categories: the most entertaining going to Bruce Taylor for his robot Henry; the most useful being presented to Reza Falamak and his EZ Mower Robot; and the open award going to Bill H. T. La for his Fetal II [Ed. not shown.]. After the picture-taking and congratulations were over, it was back to the exhibition hall for the final afternoon of the show, Although Sunday's attendance was somewhat less than the two previous days, the enthusiasm was still evident.

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Dr. Bill La with his wife.


Venture – Volume 6, Part 2 – Page 88

William H. T. La, 33, was a Vietnamese exchange student and maker of toys when he invented the Alexis while playing with an erector set. He found that by placing castings on three wheels, the wheels could move in any direction.

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Patent information:

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Source: Robotics Age, Feb 1984.

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Publication number    US4237990 A
Application number    US 06/000,570
Publication date    9 Dec 1980
Filing date    2 Jan 1979
Inventors    Hau T. La
Original Assignee    Hau T

Omnidirectional vehicle
US 4237990 A
Abstract
A wheeled vehicle provided with three individually driven wheels rotatable on horizontal axes. The wheels are disposed at the corners of a triangle. The periphery of each wheel is defined by a plurality of rollers rotatable on respective axes which are each at an angle to the axis of the respective wheel. The axes of three rollers, one for each wheel, when each such roller is in its lowermost position, form a triangle. Each roller axis may be at right angles or perpendicular to, or at 45 degrees to, or at some other acute angle to the respective wheel axis, and the triangle may be an equilateral triangle in a typical embodiment of the invention.
According to a preferred embodiment of the invention, no two of the wheel axes are aligned or parallel to each other. In a typical construction, the wheels are at the corners of an equilateral triangle and the wheel axes intersect at the center of this triangle. The vehicle may be driven over a surface, or it may be inverted and an object with a surface engaged on the wheel rollers may be moved with respect to the stationary "vehicle". Controls for motors driving the wheels of the vehicle are provided to produce rectilinear movement, rotational movement or curvilinear movement of the vehicle over the surface.


Alexis, the Omnidirectional Wheelchair.

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An earlier prototype of the omnidirectional wheelchair.

Source: Basic Robotic Concepts, John M. Holland, 1983
A version of this drive was developed by the Veterans Administration as a transport system for paraplegic persons (Fig. 3-28). This system powers only the axial motion of each wheel, allowing the smaller outer wheels to roll freely. The effect is that these rollers act as force translators. This effect can be seen for the case of forward drive shown in Fig. 3-29B. Notice that only the two rear wheels are powered for this maneuver and that their outward force vectors cancel. This scheme greatly reduces the complexity of the carriage, but some loss of traction will occur. The small diameter of the rollers will also cause difficulty on surfaces that are not perfectly smooth.
•    Efficiency: Good
•    Simplicity of Control: Excellent
•    Traction: Good to fair (for single-axis drive)
•    Maneuverability: Excellent
•    Navigation: Excellent to fair (for single-axis drive)
•    Stability: Fair to good depending on mounting
•    Adaptability: None
•    Destructiveness: Excellent
•    Climbing: Poor
•    Maintenance: Poor to good (for single-axis drive)
•    Cost: Moderate (in production) to good (for single-axis drive)

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Dr. William H. T. La is the inventor of the Alexis, at the V.A. Institute in Palo Alto. The Alexis is a nonconventional "smart" wheelchair that uses a system known as "metamotion", employing three independently motor-driven nonparallel wheels linked by an on-board computer. This feature, patented by Dr. La in 1980, allows the Alexis to move directly to any point on the horizontal plane by the rider's manipulation of a joy stick that sends an electronic signal to the computer that controls the directions of the three wheels. The Alexis also has a control feature that enables a rider unable to manipulate the joy stick to operate the Alexis by head motion. As a result, any rider of the Alexis, regardless of disability level, could make it "turn on a dime" and maneuver it in cramped spaces.

The world's most futuristic wheelchair was designed and patented by Stanford University in 1982. It's omni-directional wheels made it truly revolutionary for its time. It was named in honor of Kim Alexis.

The Evening Independent – Sep 24. 1984  
'Alexis' the wheelchair called a significant step
As technology advances, entrepreneurs put it to use—quite often, to the advantage of victims of disease and infirmity, On this page, the focus is on a new computer assisted "sports car" wheelchair.
PAUL ENGSTROM
Knight-Ridder Newspapers
SAN JOSE, Calif, — Robert Smith slides into the $1,300 bucket seat of his sleek, computer-assisted wheelchair, fingers the control panel at his left hand and the joystick in his right, then zips off for a quick spin around a local shopping center,
At a top speed of 12 mph, the machine isn't exactly primed for the Daytona 500, But "Alexis," as Smith has dubbed this roadster-like tricycle for the disabled, which he helped design, enjoys advantages unknown to stock car racers.
At the shopping center, those advantages quickly proved themselves, Smith didn't swerve when shoppers stepped in his path because Alexis, unlike conventional wheelchairs, can move sideways as well as forward and backward.
The vehicle is part ballerina, too — it can pirouette within its own footprint, whereas ordinary wheelchairs have a turning radius of about one yard. This gives Alexis the kind of maneuverability that is critical in tight spaces, such as between racks of clothing in apparel stores or between a desk and wall at the office.
And belying the notion that wheelchairs will always be drab, pitiful contraptions, Alexis got some admiring glances as it sidestepped and twirled for the curious shoppers, A list of the world's 10 sexiest machines, Smith knows, wouldn't include present-day wheelchairs — an image he hopes Alexis will shatter so that, eventually, paraplegics and others can pride themselves on what may be their only means of powered transportation.
Indeed, Smith was thinking of Kim Alexis when he christened the wheelchair. She's the stunning blonde who last year modeled a red bathing suit in Sports Illustrated's swimsuit edition.
Smith, 24, who graduated from Stanford University in 1982 with a master's degree in mechanical engineering, and four others designed and built the futuristic wheelchair over a six-month period at the Veterans Administration Rehabilitation Research and Development Center in nearby Palo Alto, Tim Prentice, a high school student at the time, provided rough sketches of what was to become Alexis.
Smith's goal was to innovate, to build a machine that would include a Zilog Z-80A microcomputer to adjust the speed of the three independently powered wheels so the vehicle would move in precise directions at precise speeds. The microcomputer performs this command-and-control loop 20 times a second.
"It's almost as if you were going to build a sports car," Smith said of his design approach. "You can either soup up a Chevy Nova or start with a clean sheet of paper and design a Corvette."
Each wheel consists of eight natural-rubber rollers instead of treads, allowing the wheelchair to travel in all directions without any drag. The Boeing Co, owns the patent on this design for its shop carts.
The wheels — two in front and one in back —and motors are concealed by rounded fiberglass covers adorned with a red racing stripe. Adding to this airstreamed, classy look is the removable bucket seat manufactured by Recaro, the type commonly found in sports and racing cars.
"Actually, I'm kind of tired of that designs" Smith confided, "It looks like a vacuum cleaner,"
Perhaps, but Alexis doesn't sound like one. Its advanced electronics create very little noise. Moreover, the microcomputer won't let Alexis travel so fast that it tips over, and because all three motors are identical, unlike conventional models with left and right motors, parts are interchangeable.
That's important because wheelchair manufacturers don't stock many spare parts.
International Texas Industries of San Antonio has purchased the patent on Alexis and will manufacture it in Wichita, Kan. The first delivery is due Dec, 31. Initially, 500 of the wheelchairs will be test marketed only in the San Francisco area, so engineers here will be able to easily spot and correct any glitches.
The standard model will sell for $4,000 to $5,000, Smith estimates. Wheelchairs currently on the market, which is dominated by a company called Everest & Jennings, vary from $4,000 to $15,000, depending on the number and type of accessories the buyer needs.
Experts in and out of the VA agree that Alexis marks a significant step in wheelchair technology.
"This is the single most important contribution to mobility of the disabled since electric-powered wheelchairs were introduced," said Larry Leifer, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Stanford University and director of the VA's research and development center.
"Most offices are inaccessible to wheelchairs. We expect Alexis to give (disabled) people a wider choice of places to live — without modifying that house, which is very expensive — and we expect it to give them broader employment opportunities."
David McGowan, executive director of the Adult Independence Development Center in Santo Clara, agreed.
"I'd say it's a rapid evolution," McGowan said. "It would be a significant change.
"Although federal law mandates that new projects be accessible to the disabled, we live in a reality where most buildings are not accessible. Doorways and hallways are not wide enough, for example. That would make (wheelchair) maneuverability critical."
The VA, according to McGowan, is at the forefront of such innovations because of the financial resources available to it.
As with any new mechanism, development of the Alexis prototype has fostered its share of headaches. Today, the wheelchair — itself disabled — sits in Smith's cramped laboratory near the VA Medical Center waiting for a new joystick. The original throttle was much too stiff for the kind of fingertip control for which Smith is striving.
In addition, the two fiberglass and nylon chassis plates began showing immediate signs of wear, forcing a switch to pure fiberglass to ensure durability while still offering a smooth ride. Another problem was getting parts: Smith often found that, because of the hospital environment, drugs and toilet paper seemed higher on the VA's list of items to be ordered.
The test pilot who puts Alexis through its' paces is Peter Axelson, 27, another mechanical engineer at the research and development center. Axelson lost the use of his legs eight years ago when he fell 180 feet while learning to rock climb as an Air Force cadet.
In subsequent years, he founded Beneficial Designs of Santa Cruz where he designed the sit ski, similar to sled.
"The initial sense of being able to move in any direction in Alexis is incredible," he said. "That's the most profound feeling, I believe that most people would get into Alexis and not try to move in any direction but backward and forward because moving sideways is so unusual."
The wheelchair negotiates tight indoor spaces better than it does curbs, hills and other outdoor obstacles. Yet, all devices have their limits, and Alexis is no exception, Axelson said.
"It's like the difference between a long distance runner and a dancer, Alexis is agile."

Patent information:

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Publication number    US4715460 A
Publication type    Grant
Application number    US 06/673,965
Publication date    29 Dec 1987
Filing date    20 Nov 1984
Also published as    EP0201592A1, WO1986003132A1
Inventors    Robert E. Smith
Original Assignee    International Texas Industries, Inc.
Omnidirectional vehicle base
US 4715460 A
Abstract
An omnidirectional wheelchair base 7 includes upper 10 and lower 20 flexible base plates held in spaced-apart alignment by a pair of front supports 14 and 16 and a rear support 18. A pair of front wheels 22 and 26 are provided, each mounted on the front supports 14 and 16, respectively, and each having an axis of rotation wherein the angle between the axes of rotations of each of the front wheels is less than 180°. A rear wheel is mounted on the rear support and has an axis of rotation less than 180° from each of the front wheels.

Publication number    WO1986003132 A1
Publication type    Application
Application number    PCT/US1985/002281
Publication date    5 Jun 1986
Filing date    19 Nov 1985
Also published as    EP0201592A1, US4715460
Inventors    Robert E Smith
Applicant    Int Texas Ind Inc


Alexis Wheelchair – Last word:
Alexis is an innovative electric wheelchair using a "wheels within wheels" design. It is unique in that it can turn in its own footprint and move sideways. The Rehab R&D Center licensed Intex Industries to make Alexis commercially available in 1987, and Intex made 40 pre-production units for field trials in the San Antonio area. During subsequent redesign efforts, the company filed for bankruptcy, preventing further commercialization at the time.

From the video blurb: Unfortunately, Alexis never made it to market because Jon King, Intex CEO, embezzled millions of investment capital. He was later convicted and spent 10 years in federal prison for his crime.


Mobile Vocational Assistant Robot (MoVAR): 1983-1988.
Overview of project

The MoVAR project used a unique, patented, 3-wheeled omni-directional base with a PUMA-250 arm mounted on it. It was desk-high and designed to go through interior doorways (see Figure 2). All electronics and power components for the motors and sensors were mounted in the mobile base. A telemetry link to a console received commands and sent position and status information. The mobile base had a bumper-mounted touch sensor system to provide autonomy in the face of obstructions, a wrist-mounted force sensor and gripper-mounted proximity sensors to assist in manipulation, and a camera system to display the robot's activities and surroundings to the user at the console. The robot console had three monitors: graphic robot motion planning, robot status, and camera view. It had keyboard, voice, and head-motion inputs for command and cursor control, and voice output.

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Omni-directional mobile robot called MoVAR.

Figure 2: MoVAR robot base with instrumented bumpers and joystick; the PUMA-250 carries a camera for remote viewing, a six-axis force sensor and gripper with finger pad-mounted proximity sensors. A wireless digital link allows the mobile base computer to communicate with the user console. A later phase of this project added instructable natural language input capability, coupled to an internal world model, so that typed-in commands such as, "move to a position in front of the desk, and move west when the bumpers are hit" could be executed. Path planning was not a targeted research area for this project due to the many other research groups active in this domain.

This project was stopped in 1988 when VA funding was terminated. The hardware and software were subsequently transferred to the Intelligent Mechanisms Group at the NASA Ames Research Center (Mountain View, CA) for use in the development of real-time controllers and stereo-based user interfaces for semi-autonomous planetary rovers.


See other early Humanoid Robots here.
See other early Mobile Robots here.

1983 – MARVIN Robot – David Gossman et al (American)

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1983 – "MARVIN" the Robot by David Gossman et al. (Image source: Robot Tech Talk, 1985 by Ed  Radlauer.)

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MARVIN MARK I – "Mobile Anthropomorphic Robot VINtage high tech robot"

Marvin Mark I moves around the room, talks with a synthesized voice using his 500-word vocabulary, moves his head, has sonar ranging on board, and has two 6-axis arms that can be programmed to work simultaneously. Marvin is a somewhat anthropomorphic personal robot that stands approx 4 foot 2 inches tall and has two six-axis arms, an on-board Motorola 68000 processor and a standard disk drive. A total of 15 axes of movement can be operated simultaneously under computer control.


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 Text by bill_r:

     "Marvin" appeared on the scene somewhere around 1982 or 1983.  He featured the new (at that time) 68000 processor, and was actually very sophisticated, both mechanically and electronically.  The articulation and strength of the arms and hands were particularly impressive.  At that time, I was working for a small engineering company (Helman Engineering) prior to their relocation to South Carolina, helping to design and built fiber-composite tensioning systems for sale to the Air Force and aerospace industries.  At one time, we were asked to supply a bid on automated traffic control systems for highway construction sites.   (Apparently, the accident rate is fairly high, and holding a sign for hours has to be the world's most boring job.)  We kicked around some requirements, and decided that such a device should be self-contained, durable, capable of communicating with both the foreman and other robots on the job via radio, and equipped with visual warning devices for motorists as well as audible warnings for the road crew, should a car not slow down or otherwise pose a threat.  "Marvin" had recently come to my attention, and he looked like he might be a good place to start, so my boss (coincidentally also named Marvin) and I hopped in his red-white-and-blue stunt plane (he used to be a stunt pilot in an aerial circus, but that's another story altogether) and hopped over to Iowa to visit "Marvin's" home.  The pictures above were taken at the small factory.  The image of a robot assembly line (ala "Short Circuit" or "The Terminator") sticks in my head to this day.  I remember seeing tables holding row after row of arms, hands, heads, wheels, etc., ready to be assembled.  I don't know what happened to "Marvin" and his brothers, because I don't think I've ever seen one, or even a picture of one, outside those I saw at the factory that day.  The advertisement is one of a short series run in "Robotics Age" magazine.  (In case you were wondering, the traffic-control robot fell through; it seems it's cheaper to pay a human being to lean on a shovel all day…)

        Update 9/10/98:  Being curious if there were actually any "Marvins" around that I might adopt, I did some research.  The company is long gone, having gone bankrupt in 1990 due to the fickle fortunes of the robotics market.   They apparently sold a number of robots of varying designs before they vanished, however.  By speaking to the mayor of the town where the company once existed, I was able to make contact with two of the three people who designed and built "Marvin", who are still living in the area, but pursuing totally different occupations.  The 3rd person apparently moved to Minneapolis and later passed away.   I'd still like to give a "Marvin" a home, so if you know of any that are available, let me know!   

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Above images also from bill_r.


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MARVIN specification from The Personal Robot Book, Texe Marrs, 1985.


Most of the advertisements shown below are from various issues of Robotics Age journal. Some are reproduced by convenience from The Old Robots.

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Press photo of Marvin in Boston. Date and people unknown.

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Poor image From IEEE's Spectrum, May 1985.

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MARVIN at the IPRC 1984. Image by Richard Moyle via David Buckley's Historic Robots.


Source: The Daily Reporter – Sep 20, 1984

Branstad meets Melvin robot
By Judy Daubenmler, Iowa News Service
DES. MOINES — Gov. Terry Branstad got a helping "hand" with one of his office chores Tuesday and seemed pleased that the "hand" wasn't a human's.
The governor signed a proclamation declaring Sept, 30-Oct. 6 "Iowa High Tech Week" and in the spirit of the week, an Iowa-made robot handed the governor the document for his signature.
The robot, a 4-foot-2-inch, 150-pound electronic bundle called Marvin, told the governor, "I am pleased to be here" as he raised his arm and presented Branstad with the proclamation.
"I congratulate you humans on a great idea … and for choosing me to help you. From me and my pals in Iowa industry, thank you. Thank you, Governor Branstad. What a great week," said Marvin,
Calling it a "little different to be talking to robots," Branstad thanked the blue, pudgy, human-shaped machine and then tugged gently to loosen Marvin's
grip on the proclamation.
"Is he going to let go of it?" asked a skeptical Branstad.
A well-trained Marvin relaxed his grippers, surrendered the paper to the governor and then lowered his arm.
The little ceremony in Branstad's formal office was a sort of Iowa debut for Marvin, but his "father" says the little tyke may soon go on to bigger and better things.
David Gossman, chief executive officer of Iowa Precision Robotics, Ltd., in Melvin, said Marvin clones may show up in movies, television commercials and serials, industry and schools.
"Marvin was originally designed and developed to be an educational tool, a training aid, primarily at post-secondary institutions, to facilitate the training of individuals in programming robots for industry and for students on the engineering side of the card," he said,
Marvin's insides are much like the insides of industrial robots, but he sells for around $6,000 instead of $30,000 to $150,000 as industrial robots do, explained Gossman. That makes robotics courses affordable for post-secondary schools, he said,
Marvin contains a computer eight times more powerful than a common personal computer, He can be programmed with the help of a computer terminal that plugs into his back and a computer language the firm developed just for him.
Marvin has a large vocabulary, although Gossman admits his speech is sometimes hard to understand the first time it's heard. More understandable speech synthesizers could have been used but they had a limited vocabulary, he explained,
Marvin's two arms have six movable joints and can lift objects weighing up to five pounds.
He has wheels instead of feet and a sonar system that lets him find his way around objects by bouncing sound off them,
Gossman came up with the idea of manufacturing Marvin about two years ago when he saw that schools could use a sophisticated, yet cheap, tool to teach robotics.
Gossman said he decided to make Marvin have a human shape only because it "tends to attract attention" and not because there is any real need for him to look human-like,
Formerly with the Stylecraft firm in Milford, Gossman incorporated Iowa Precision Robotics in April 1983, So far, $250,000 has been spent in developing Marvin,
The firm now employs 10 people and will expand to 20 to 25 within six months.
Marvin is the demonstration robot, and the first production models will be put together in late September or early October,
Orders so far have come from Westinghouse, which plans to use Marvin as a tour guide, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and Hollywood,
"Six Marvins have been purchased by a prop supplier in Hollywood and we've been contacted by quite a number of people wanting to use the robot in television commercials, Conversations are going on that could mean one will find its way into a television serial, but I can't indicate which one," said Gossman.
Marvin is expected to have a market-life of about five years, and he's likely to be followed by "son of Marvin" after that as American businesses turn increasingly to robotics, Gossman said.
"I really don't know whether robotics is the wave the future, Wave of the future may be a bit strong," said Gossman,
"Obviously, industry is going to evolve into using more and more automated tools in order to maintain its competitive position against other countries.. We're no longer isolated.
"Whether the labor unions like it or not, industry will be forced to use robots. It's an evolutionary change rather than a revolutionary change."


Iowa Precision Robotics, Ltd. principals: David L Gossman (dec.), Matthew L. Plagman (dec.) and Rand Weaver of Iowa Precision Robotics, Ltd.


Iowa Precision comes battling back. (Iowa Precision Robotics Ltd.)

Article from: American Metal Market | July 1, 1985 | Dave Fusaro.

CHICAGO–Iowa Precision Robotics Ltd. recently laid off most of its staff and even had its phone disconnected, but chief executive officer David Gossman says the year-old maker of personal robots is now back on the track to profitability. The Melvin, Iowa, company has delivered its first personal robot–with four more to follow–and has also lined up another $400,000 in financing to keep the wolf from the door. "We've just gone through a really critical period for cash flow," Gossman acknowledged.

Robot Insider, trying to get up to date on Gossman's activities, wasn't the only caller frustrated by the disconnected phone. Joseph Collins, both Jr. and Sr., wanted to reach Gossman to talk possible merger.


Greg Johnson was also a Software Engineer who worked at Iowa Precision Robotics during May 1984 – June 1985 (1 year 2 months).

He developed a custom DC brushless motor with commutation algorithm and hardware. Worked on Z80 code for motor control for motion and articulation of the robotic arm. Fun work and everything was built from scratch.


Patent Info:

Publication number    US5166872 A
Publication type    Grant
Application number    US 07/851,116
Publication date    Nov 24, 1992
Filing date    Mar 16, 1992
Priority date    Jul 17, 1989
Fee status    Lapsed
Inventors    Rand D. Weaver, David L. Gossman, Matthew L. Plagman
Original Assignee    Ability Technologies Corporation

System and method for controlling devices through communication processors and pluralities of address-associated device controllers sharing each communication processor

Abstract
The system for controlling a plurality of devices includes a central processor that receives information from a user, translates the information into a command and sends the command to a communication processor. The communications processor formulates a device command to send to a remote device processor which is connected in close proximity to a device that the user wants to control. The communication processor also receives status information back from the device processor which has been accessed. The device processor receiving a command uses the command to control the device attached to the device processor. Each device processor is able to monitor the commands sent to other device processors and can be set to use these commands to control their attached device. This method of monitoring allows many devices to be controlled simultaneously with very few commands. The system also allows for different types of devices to be attached to the device controllers so the system can perform a multiplicity of functions.

Publication number    WO1991001520 A1
Publication type    Application
Application number    PCT/US1990/003866
Publication date    Feb 7, 1991
Filing date    Jul 10, 1990
Priority date    Jul 17, 1989
Inventors    Rand D Weaver, David L Gossman, Matthew L Plagman
Applicant    Ability Technologies Corp, Iowa Precision Robotics Ltd


As may be evident in the patent applicant above, the principals 'moved' to Ability Technologies Corp.

From the below article, under the Ability Technologies Corp banner, two more robots were built, "Futura" and "Versa Base." I have not been able to locate any pictures of further information on these.

The Daily Reporter    Spencer, Iowa    Friday, Feb. 9, 1990,    Page 3
LIFESTYLES
Sacred Heart students meet robots
Recently, Kent Lachner gave Mickic Moklestad's fifth grade class (from Sacred Heart School) a tour of his robotics corporation, Ability Technologies Corporation, in Melvin,
While there they met Futura, a robot designed after a woman. Futura will go to Rome, Italy this month to work in a pizza restaurant — she may also be a fashion model, Her sponsors include a soft drink company and a beer company.
Students learned that the black box that controls each motion of the robot is called an "intelligent motor controller," and that a robot can have tip to 64 of them, They also learned that robots can't read, but they can scan and record,
Students learned that robots can weld cars, help paralyzed or handicapped people, pick up clothes in a dress factory, be security guards, deliver hospital trays, deliver mail and cook,
Another thing they learned there is that robots can he made to move in three ways — hydraulics, pneumatics (air) and electronics. Ability Technologies Corporation uses electronics,
While there, students also met another robot called "Versa Base," who danced and did a power demo.


See other early Humanoid Robots here.
See other early Mobile Robots here.