Archive for the ‘Teleoperators’ Category

1960 onwards – Miscellaneous Mobile Manipulator Arms


1960c – Lee Mobile Manipulator.

[I presently have no other information on this mobile manipulator.]


The Lee Model 6A Manipulator was used on the mobile platform.



1974 Centaure Mobile Manipulator (French).centaure-french-x640


The CEE-VEE Remote Mobile Vehicle with crane-like manipulator

See other early Space Teleoperators here.

Tags: , , , , , ,

1985 – ACEC Mobile Inspection Vehicle – (Belgian)


1985 – ACEC Mobile Inspection Vehicle



The manipulators are master-slave force feed-back and electrically driven.



The ACEC Vehicle for remote inspection and intervention has a minimal footprint when the treads are folded up and the manipulator arms are also folded.



Publication number EP0197020 A1
Publication date Oct 8, 1986
Filing date Mar 7, 1986
Priority date Mar 9, 1985
Inventors Raymond Pinsmaille, Costa Cabral Gaivao Luis Da, Alain Duchene, Dominique Colard
Applicant ACEC, Société Anonyme




See other early Space Teleoperators here.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

1970-1 – CURV Mobile Linkage Manipulator – Naval Undersea Research (American)


1970-1 – CURV Mobile Linkage Manipulator. Originally developed for the Cable-controlled Undersea Remove Vehicle (CURV), it was adapted for potential use as a mobile nuclear manipulator as seen here. Later it was used in Bezjcy's lab at the Jet Propulstion Laboratories (JPL), along with the JPL/Ames Arm.




The NEVADA/CURV system (Fig. 3) consists of the CURV Linkage Arm mounted on a turret which can be rotated and elevated relative to the carrier vehicle, two TV cameras for stereo viewing, a separate TV camera for monodisplay, and a remote control station with RF or hardwired link to the vehicle-arm-TV system. This hydraulically powered arm has six degrees-of-freedom, plus opening and closing the hand mechanism. The essential and novel feature of this manipulator is that it provides true linear extension by the use of an idler gear of twice the radius of a forearm drive gear. Extension is achieved by moving the upper arm with respect to the idler. The linkage action causes the course travelled by the wrist during extension to be a straight line passing through both the azimuth and elevation axes. Elevation is achieved by rotating the whole mechanism about the vertical axis of the idler. A double parallelogram added to the linkage eliminates wrist disorientation during changes in elevation and extension or the arm. Thus, the arm performs the function of positioning the hand, without disconnecting it, in a spherical coordinate system. The arm has a high section modulus which makes it rigid but lightweight. The existing prototype can handle loads corresponding to nearly 70% of the arms weight at 1.5 m extension. The control system is presently a single on-off control for each joint. Rate control servo for joystick control and position control servo for computer control are under construction. The equioment of the hand with tactile, proximity, and force/torque sensors is also in progress. Presently, the NEVADA/CURV system is used for hand-eye coordination experiments.
Source: JPL Technical Memorandum 33-721. Jan 1, 1975

See also paper by Uhrich, R., "CURV Linkage Manipulator," Naval Research Center. November 1971.


Linear linkage manipulator arm

Publication number    US3703968 A
Publication type    Grant
Publication date    28 Nov 1972
Filing date    20 Sep 1971
Priority date    20 Sep 1971
Inventors    Richard W Uhrich, Jimmy L Held
Original Assignee    Us Navy

A manipulator arm comprises two parallelogram linkages in combination with a trapezium linkage. The three linkage systems cooperate to produce movement in spherical coordinates when used in conjunction with three independent actuators. The two parallelogram linkages preserve spacial coordination between the wrist, elbow and shoulder joints and the trapezium linkage permits radial extension of objects carried thereby.

See other early Teleoperators here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

1960 – KOELSCH Mobile Manipulator – William A. Koelsch Jr. (American)


1960 – KOELSCH Mobile Manipulator






The JPL KOELSCH Robot system (Fig. 2) contains two identical arms mounted on a common shoulder link supported  by a vertical post. The post is fitted to a small tread platform. The common shoulder link can be rotated about and raised along the vertical axis of the post. Relative to the common shoulder link, each arm has six basic motion capabilities (six degrees-of-freedom): horizontal shoulder rotation, vertical shoulder swing, vertical elbow swing, vertical wrist swing, head rotation, and hand grip. All joint motions are independent and can be operated individually or simultaneously in any direction. The servo system has both manual and computer control modes. The manua; control is conventional rate control for each joint drive. The computer provides position control, but the drive servo loops are analog. Manual and computer control modes of operation are mutually exclusive. For remote control experiments, the Koelsch manipulator is equipped with the dual TV system mounted on the common shoulder link. The TV base has pan and tilt mechanisms. The identification of object coordinates is performed by the use of a curson in the video display frame. Several sets of control experiments have been performed using the JPL KOELSCH Robot arm also using proximity sensors in both manual and computer control modes.

Source: JPL Technical Memorandum 33-721. Jan 1, 1975

There is also a paper on this Mobile Manipulator: MOBILE MANIPULATOR, J. A. Brown, Esso Research and Engineering Company, Linden, New Jersey, William A. Koelsch, Jr., Koelsch Electronic Development Company, Boise, Idaho (USA)

See other early Teleoperators here.

Tags: , , , , , ,

1984-93 – Nuclear Inspection Centaur Robot – ART Project (Japanese)

The ART Project’s Nuclear Inspection Centaur Robot

After the earthquake last year and the resulting damage to the Fukushima nuclear plant, observers criticized Japan’s lack of preparedness. In particular, many felt that the Japanese robotics sector’s focus on expensive humanoids had squandered time and resources better spent on more specialized robots.  However, this isn’t totally accurate.  The Japanese government, corporations, and universities have been working on robots for just this sort of problem for decades.  Back in the 1980s the Japanese government invested 20 billion JPY (still less than $100 million dollars at the time) into a massive eight-year program to build three types of advanced robots for hazardous environments.

The ART (Advanced Robotics Technology) Project had goals that were too big for any one institution to achieve, so a consortium called ARTRA (Advanced Robotics Technology Research Association) was formed. Financed and controlled by the Agency of Industrial Science and Technology, ARTRA brought two major government organizations, the Mechanical Engineering Laboratory (MEL; now known as AIST) and the Electrotechnical Laboratory (ETL), together with 18 corporations under the same banner, along with the support of academia.

The ART robots were designed for three major areas: nuclear plants, undersea oil rigs, and a third for disaster prevention in refineries.


The nuclear inspection robot would have a sensor head, four legs, two 7-DOF arms, and four-fingered hands with pressure sensitive finger tips (this configurarion led to it being known as the Centaur robot). It would be paired with a smaller, wall-climbing partner that used suction cups to adhere to wall surfaces. This would allow it to “climb up and down stairs, step over piping or other impediments, and relocate itself at high speed.”

It would have to work in 70 degrees (158 degrees Farenheit), 90% humidity, and 100 roentgens of radiation per hour. What started as a 1/3-scale model of the four-legged mechanism eventually became a robot measuring 188 cm (6’2″) tall, 127 cm (4’2″) long, and weighing 700 kg (1,543 lbs).


The undersea robot looked like one of the pods from 2001: A Space Odyssey, with multiple arms and manipulators. It would have to function 600 feet underwater, in tides moving at 2 knots, and in very poor visibility.  Finally, the disaster response robot would put out fires with a hose, move on six legs (each ending with a wheel) and had an arm for closing valves. It would have to work for thirty minutes despite temperatures in the range of 400 degrees (750 degrees Fahrenheit).

Susumu Tachi, director of the robotics department at MEL at the time, was in charge of developing the robots’ teleoperation system. Although the robots were intended to have some degree of autonomy, the majority of their work would be done under the direct control of a human operator. Basically, the human operator would wear 3D glasses or some other head-mounted display, and control certain robot functions using haptic controls and a pair of joysticks. Later Tachi established a lab at Keio University, where many unique “tele-existence” projects would take shape.


Teleoperating the Centaur nuclear plant robot

The first conceptual illustrations were unveiled in 1984, but the actual construction of the robots wouldn’t begin until 1987. There was a great deal of conflict between ARTRA members, not to mention over 40 research themes, so a huge amount of preparation work had to be completed. One researcher called the nuclear inspection robot’s configuration the result of “a lack of imagination”, and Shigeo Hirose (of TITECH’s Hirose-Fukushima Lab) had this to say about it:

    “It’s almost impossible to use a four-legged robot in a nuclear reactor. The passageways are too narrow, and it’s supposed to carry a huge load of equipment. I don’t think it’s practical, and I keep telling the people in charge that they should use a snake design, which no one else has used. We need a more functional design.

    I think the whole thing is a mess. They’re starting out without a long-range, completed vision, but with many corporations and a great deal of politics involved. The result, I fear, will be a very boring robot.”


Part of the reason the nuclear inspection robot has legs is because Hitachi won the contract to work on it, having worked with Waseda University on bipedal robots.  The Waseda-Hitachi Legs [WHL-11] appeared at the Tsukuba Expo ’85. Somewhat prophetically, Hitachi’s Hideo Maki had this to say about the Centaur robot:

    “I think two legs is the ideal, and I would like to develop such a robot, but technologically that’s ten to fifteen years in the future, so we’re settling for four. Professor Kato says that man used to walk on all fours, but that when he stood up and freed two of his limbs, a whole new world opened up for him. Our robot has four legs, and two arms, and we think it will yield the same results.”

Changes in specifications along the way also slowed progress. For example, Hitachi (responsible for building the Centaur robot’s legs) had planned for the robot to carry up to 100kg (220 lbs), but then the companies responsible for the sensors and other equipment kept making requests, forcing redesigns. The researchers studied the walking gaits of horses, elephants, hippos, and rhinos in an effort to better replicate four-legged walking, resulting in a speed of 2.5 kph (1.5 mph).


One of three Hitachi quadrupeds developed circa 1990

In 1993, the robot appeared in the Japanese pavilion at the Taejon Expo in South Korea. By that time the prototype had successfully completed a few trials, but didn’t make the jump into real use. And sadly, both photos and video of the robot experiments are extremely scarce, despite it being such a large project. Hitachi, for its part, says that the lessons learned from this and other robot projects are reflected in their recent robots, such as the EMIEW humanoids.

Many household names can be found in the following breakdown of responsibilities. Some of these corporations were selected because of their prior involvement with similar technologies. Hitachi, Mitsubishi, and Toshiba, for example, had developed robots for nuclear plants independent of the ART project. And Kawasaki, which builds Japan’s submarines, played a significant role in the development of the undersea robot.
1. Basic Technologies
A. Locomotion

    Fuji Electric R&D
    Yaskawa Electric

B. Control


C. Systems Support

    Int’l Robotics & Factory Automation Center

2. Nuclear Plant Robot
A. High Reliability

    Mitsubishi Electric
    Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
    Japan Power Engineering & Inspection

B. Radiation Resistance

    Japan Power Engineering & Inspection

C. Locomotion

    JGC Corp
    Japan Power Engineering & Inspection

D. Manipulation

    Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
    Japan Power Engineering & Inspection

E. Remote Control

    Mitsubishi Electric

3. Undersea Robot
A. Undersea Robot Positioning & Navigation:

    Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding
    Kawasaki Heavy Industries
    Sumitomo Electric Industries

B. Undersea Robot Vision

    Oki Electric Industries

C. Undersea Robot Manipulation

    Kawasaki Heavy Industries
    Komatsu Ltd.

D. Undersea Robot Supervisory Control

    Oki Electric Industries
    Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding

4. Disaster Prevention Robot
A. Durability

    Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries

B. Sensors

    Matsushita Research Institute
    NEC Corp.

C. Environment Adaptation

    Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries
    Kobe Steel
    Int’l Robotics & Factory Automation Center

Much of the information in this article was assembled from Frederik Schodt’s Inside The Robot Kingdom, which has a more detailed account of the project.

Source: Plasticpals

See other early Teleoperators and Industrial Robots here.

See other early Walking Machines here.

Tags: , , , , ,