Posts Tagged ‘1950’

1950 – Remote-control Manipulator – Art Youmans (American)

Several feet away, the operator controls the arm from this chair.

It can measure out liquid by the drop.

 "Adelbert"—Science's "Right Arm"—Can Even Write Its Name
ALTHOUGH it looks more like a dentist's oversized drill, a gentle-acting mechanical arm called "Adelbert" is actually built like the human arm. It has an elbow, shoulder, wrist and fingers. Unlike normal arms, it is completely double-jointed.
Adelbert's inventor is Art Youmans, who works for a Tulsa company that does radioactivity well logging in surveying oil fields. Radioactive materials often require remote handling, hence the invention of remotely operated Adelbert. Youmans spent 18 months working on his robot.
Similar arms are in use in research labs, but Youmans claims his arm is best. It is versatile. It can snatch up heavy cans or fondle eggs. It pours from slender test tubes as adroitly as a chemist. Even untrained operators can pour liquids with Adelbert and not spill a drop. A favorite trick is to pick up a pencil and write its name.
The operator sits in a one-armed chair—the arm being the control. When the operator moves this arm forward by pivoting his arm from the shoulder, Adelbert does likewise. Raise a forearm and the mechanical arm mirrors the action. A pistol-grip bar controls the twisting of the wrist. This movement even outdoes the human arm- can spin its hand all the way around in either direction. That's handy for screwing nuts on bolts. Open the fingers and Adelbert follows suit. Unaffected by radiation, Adelbert offers safety and deftness—a combination atomic researchers need.

Inventor Art Youmans watches his "right arm" mix chemicals.

It is gentle enough to handle eggs.

Publication number    US2861699 A
Publication date    25 Nov 1958
Filing date    16 Oct 1950
Also published as    DE976882C
Inventors    Arthur H Youmans
Original Assignee    Gen Mills Inc

Remote-control Manipulator

The present invention ……… provides a manipulator that may be entirely electrically operated from a remote point …….  The manipulator can be operated by a separate unit which transmits power to it in any desired manner. The device of the instant invention can be made to perform all of the operations that can be performed with the human arm as well as operations which would be incapable of performance with the human arm. It can be made to perform double jointed movements and large angle deflections of its elements which cannot be duplicated by the human arm. It is fundamentally different from a set of tongs because it can be directed to perform a complicated series of movements which the operator at the controls supervises but does not himself perform.

It can perform operations at any rate and in any manner which the operator chooses and each operation can be controlled with any degree of precision which the operator desires by independently reducing or increasing the speed of the separate elements moving in their respective degrees of freedom. Since each of the movable elements of the manipulator forming the subject matter of the present invention may be moved independently, delicate operations may be performed by incrementally moving one element at a time about its pivotal joint while all other movable elements of the apparatus remain automatically relatively fixed.

The apparatus of the instant invention is extremely versatile in that the hand of the manipulator is provided with gripping members which may be adjutsed to the position of the object being handled with respect to the axis of rotation of the hand. Thus, for example, in pouring one can hold the lip of the vessel stationary while rotating the body of the vessel or in holding a screw driver one can make the blade stay in a screw slot during rotation of the screw driver. This is made possible by adjusting the span of the hand by moving one set of digits which oppose a movable thumb in a manner that will align the object to be manipulated with the axis of rotation of the hand. Novel arrangements have been provided for actuating the grasping digits of the hand whereby any desired pressure can be exerted by the digits on the object being grasped at the will of the operator through the medium of the novel control provided for the manipulator. 

… see more patent description here.

See other Early Teleoperators and Manipulators here.

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1950 – N.S.U. Motorcycle Robot Driver – (German)

ROBOT DRIVER: In Frankfurt, Germany—A motorcycle with a robot driver was one of features of a spring fair. Exhibited by the N.S.U. Motor Company of Neckarsulm, Germany, the robot showed the crowds how to drive the manufacturer's motorcycle. By a system of switches and electromagnets, the robot starts the engine, changes the three gears, drives at top speed for a while and, finally, brings the motorcycle to a stop.

Another NSU robot.

See the complete list of early Mechanical Men and Robots here.

1950 – REO Remote-control Lawn Mower – Paul Rosenberg (American)

Source: Life Magazine, 26 Jun 1950

It can cut a lawn or a figure 8, all by one-watt remote control

Partly to sound out the market and partly because it just sounded like a good lazy-summerafternoon idea, Chief Engineer Paul Rosenberg of Reo Motors' lawn mower division has for the last 18 months been developing a remote-control lawn mower. It consists of a 25-inch motor-driven blade with a radio receiver controlling a hydraulic mechanism. The transmitter, powered by storage battery, broadcasts a one-watt signal up to 500 yards, enabling a man to sit comfortably in his back yard while his mower whirls around the lawn at 3 mph, making 360deg. turns when necessary and cutting to within 1 1/4 inches of obstacles. One obstacle the mower will face if and when marketed is its probable price: around $850. But as an added attraction it will have a snowplow attachment which could permit sidewalk plowing from a blazing hearthside.

REMOTE CONTROL UNIT consists of 25-pound receiver mounted on the mower, 20-pound transmitter with turn-control knob and start-and-stop key.

SHARP TURNS of which the Reo mower is capable are shown in this repetitive flash night picture, during which it was sent around a triangular course.

R. E. OLDS, 86 years old, former chairman of Reo, who gave his name to two cars—Reo and Oldsmobile, delightedly tries mower on his lawn in Lansing.

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


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1950 – Fairbanks-Morse “Grass Finder” Rotary Power Lawn Mower – (American)

The gasoline-powered Fairbanks-Morse Grass Finder has no cord. Run it around the outside of your lawn once to give it the feel of things and from then on it runs itself, feeling for the high uncut grass with its left hand, as it were, and following along the edge of the previous cut until it has spiraled into the center. At this point it runs in circles until someone comes.

Source: Wilwaukee Sentinel, 3 May 1953.

Grass Grows, Mower Mows –Which Lets You Doze

Save time and energy used in cutting the lawn, week after week after week, and you can keep those flower beds weeded, the car polished, the thousand and one around-the-house chores under control or you can just relax, play bridge, doze.
 It can now he done with the new "Grass Finder" lawn mower that cuts grass by itself with out so much as a finger of guidance. Powered by a gasoline engine, this automatic mower has feelers at the front that keep the machine operating through the uncut grass until the last blade has been cut and mulched.
Fairbanks, Morse & Co. has added this automatic model to its broad line of electric and gasoline-powered mowers to sell for under $300.00.
Any shape or size of lawn can be cut with this sensational new mower. The operator cuts a single strip around the area to be mowed, then sets the mower in automatic operation by pushing up the handle to a vertical position and lets it go to work. From then on the machine needs no touch from human hands.
Mechanical feelers guide the "Grass Finder" along the long grass line, around curves and corners, as it works in a clockwise direction toward the center of the plot.
The automatic "nose" of this new mower is a mechanical feeler device on the left front side which contacts the tall grass. This contact releases a brake and causes the mower to straighten out until the feeler reaches cut grass whereupon the mower again weaves to the right.
The machine is simple in design, wholly mechanical and sturdy. An extra dividend is that as grass is cut it is thrown to the right and the snips mulched and remulched so that no raking is necessary.
The mower cuts an 18-in. swath and can he used on grass 2 1/2 to 7 inches high. Cutting height can he adjusted from 1 1/23 to 2 2/3 inches. The machine can cut square corners, avoid flower beds, function automatically on grades up to 20 per cent. It makes lawn tending a pleasure.

Source: Kiplinger's Personal Finance, Apr 1954

The gasoline-powered Fairbanks-Morse Grass Finder has no cord. Run it around the outside of your lawn once to give it the feel of things and from then on it runs itself, feeling for the high uncut grass with its left hand, as it were, and following along the edge of the previous cut until it has spiraled into the center. At this point it runs in circles until someone comes.

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


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1950 – Radio-controlled Lawnmower – Jim Walker (American)

Source: Popular Science, Mar 1950

Mows Lawn by Radio—Pretty Soft!
   WHILE his robot lawn mower chugs around the lawn, Jim Walker, of Portland, Ore., takes it easy in his glider, sipping a cool drink and operating the radio controls.
  Walker, a radio ham, long-time builder of radio-controlled model planes, and president of a model-airplane company, developed the robot mower after ninety days of tinkering. He plans to build and sell similar rigs for license-free frequencies.
  The mower is a standard job, driven by a one-cylinder gas engine. Separate clutches operated by solenoids control the power to each driving wheel. Normally the mower runs straight ahead, but either wheel may be declutched by radio to steer the robot or turn it around. If you punch one button, it  pivots around the disconnected wheel; if you punch both, the mower stops. The engine and cutting reel run at a constant speed. A main clutch is adjusted to slip if the mower jams on an obstruction, and a triggering bar in front shorts out the spark plug if the mower bumps anything.
  The radio consists of- two -small transmitters and receivers, although a single-channel rig with audio discrimination may be used. The transmitters are simple one-tube affairs, powered by hearing-aid and flashlight batteries. Walker says he gets accurate control over a quarter of a mile away.



Video clip from British Pathe.

Source: American Magazine, 1950, p104.

Above: Chuck Hein photo.

Some pictures and text from There is also a downloadable video clip there.

He was in demand at sportsman shows. By now he really had an act. The star attraction was his radio-control lawnmower. This thing had gotten national publicity in popular-science type magazines — with Jim in a ham-mock, sipping a glass, while buddy mower ran up and down the lawn. Millions laughed. The mower, inciden-tally, was rendered reeless later, a practical concession after he had followed horses in a Seattle parade. (Jim was fond of telling about the guy standing on a theater marque who laughed so hard he fell off and broke a leg.)

The Jim Walker Radio Controled Lawnmower on the golf course – R/C lawnmower Before a crowded house at the Sportsman's Pier in Chicago, Jim made his grand entrance, followed by the docile mower. A control switch was hidden in his belt buckle. Off to the side of the tanbark ring stood the three orange-colored Fireballs. Bowing and gesturing, Jim strode toward center-circle. Unknowingly, he hit the control switch. The jealous mower took off on its own, sneaked up on the defenseless Fireballs and spewed forth a cloud of orange dust. It brought down the house. The crowd kept roaring, "Encore, encore." (from July 1971 article in American Aircraft Modeler magazine.)

Jim Walker and his U-Control A-J Fireball doing the Sabre Dance – A special control line stunt that was unique to Jim WalkerJim played a U-Reely handle like Al Hirt tootles a trumpet. A virtuoso. For his Sabre Dance his two-speed ignition Fireball, with a pin on its tail, would go into an abrupt climb, hover motionless, then back down slowly to burst a balloon on the ground. A quick recovery climb and the Fireball circled in level flight while Jim took the applause.

Or he would run out from a side-line crowd at the Nats — this happened in Minneapolis, if memory serves, when Jim had been banned as a distraction to the crowd who ate up his antics — a Fireball, engine running, right at his finger tips. As he went, he'd pay out lines to steal the show. If the wind was light, he'd let out 200 feet of lines. The sight of a Fireball almost free-flighting around a 400-foot circle is something no one could forget. Jim, incidentally, kept his radio frequency secret because we all loved to louse up his mower act with clandestine handheld transmitters. With the mower marching around him like a crack drill team, passing between his feet, and stuff, it was no time for such monkey-shines! Poor Jim never knew what happened but he'd stare us through and through!

Source: Popular Mechanics, June 1951.
Robot Caddy
 It is still thought advisable to have the golfer swing the clubs, although an ingenious Oregonian has simplified life on the links with a radio-controlled caddy cart and lawn mower. Jim Walker of Portland attached a conventional cart to a power lawn mower and added remote control and radio equipment to lessen human effort.

Note: I've seen dates of Jim's r-c lawn mower suggesting that it was built in 1948, but I have not seen any proof of this.  All articles to date are dated 1950 at the earliest.

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


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