Posts Tagged ‘1966’

1966 – CRAB Remote-controlled Underwater Craft – Vyacheslav Yastrebov (Soviet)


1966 – CRAB Remote-controlled Underwater Craft by Dr. Vyacheslav Yastrebov



"Aquator" [Дкватор] – a moving robot for underwater research – came out of the walls of the Bauman Institute. Designers believe that this device will become active assistant hydrologists, ocean scientists, biologists – all those who study the depths of the sea.

The CRAB is named "Aquator" in this article.

The Bauman Institute of Underwater Devices and Robotics is part of Moscow State Technical University, the oldest institute in Russia; it also is one of the largest. Before the Revolution it was called the "Imperial High School."

Source: Engineering – Youth 1980-10, page 10


The "CRAB". Vyacheslav Yastrebov is on the far right in this photo.

The "Crab" was conceived as early at 1966 by Vyacheslav Yastrebov, Head of the Underwater Research Technique Laboratory. Yastrebov was one of the main designers of the robot. At the time, the most difficult problem was that of communication and a cable from the surface to the vehicle was the only feasible method. The use of computer-controlled programmes and master-slave manipulators was also envisioned, along with a television camera.

Two Crabs were built. The first was the "Crab 3,000" — a remote-controlled vehicle for depths of 3,000 m.  The second crab, the "Crab 4,000" was said to be built in 1971, although the Crab 3,000 was undergoing sea trials in 1972!

Sources: Underwater Association of Malta – 1966,  The Daily Review – Volume 13 – 1967 Page 1787


Lunokhod gets into deep water
Soviet oceanologists have recently been testing a new device for exploring the ocean bed. Nicknamed the Crab, it is similar in conception to their mooncar—Lunokhod-1. The Crab is mobile, has apparatus for studying the sea floor and taking samples, and has a television system. The control crew work from a mother ship, which has a cable link with the Crab for transmitting commands, television pictures and any other signals.
The Crab's first research mission was studying the underwater volcanoes in the Mediterranean, north of Sicily. The mother ship was the research vessel—the Akademik Sergei Vavilov—and the research team included designers of the Crab from the Academy of Sciences' Institute of Oceanology in Moscow. They used the Crab in two volcanic areas, lowering it at one time to a depth of 1250m. It sent back television pictures, took samples from the surface of the volcanoes, and, according to the head of the expedition, V. Yastrebov, generally worked successfully.

Source: New Scientist – Jul 27, 1972 – Page 196, Vol. 55, No. 806

The designers used a preprogrammed simple computer to control the CRAB – 4000.

Source: Marine Technology Society Journal – Volume 7 – Page 55 1973


The 'crab' remote-controlled underwater craft by YASTREBOV, V. Text Source: Underwater Journal. 5:117-119:June 1973.
The 'Crab' remote-controlled underwater craft is intended to carry out simple operations for collecting sea-bed material and animal specimens from the ocean floor at depths of up to 3600 m. It carries a TV-system, a manipulator, a hydraulic power system, a remote-control system and an autonomous storage battery supply. The entire electronic section of the equipment is housed in the front part of the 'Crab' in spherical boxes which are provided with portholes through which observations are conducted with the aid of television and a photographic camera. The boxes carry a hinged telescopic manipulator, the gripping part of which is adjusted for picking up objects of any shape as well as loose ground samples. The manipulator has a range. relative to the immobile craft, 0.4 m. The whole craft is positioned on a three-bearing flat platform and may revolve, relative to the platform, around its vertical axis, for 320°, allowing scanning of the area when the craft is on the ocean floor. The spherical boxes with the manipulator may be inclined to 30° giving the craft the facility for scanning, and the manipulator the possibility of servicing, a circular zone with an inner diameter of 2.2 m and outer diameter of 3 m. The craft itself is 1.4 m long, 1 m. wide and 0.4 m high and weighs 620 kg in air. After scooping the sample. the manipulator turns back and stops in its extreme rear position over a bin into which the scooped materials are placed. (Author).

Source: Underwater Medicine and Related Sciences: A Guide to the Literature Volume 2 … By Margaret F. Werts, Charles 'N. Shilling

An Overview of Non-U.S. Underwater Remotely Manned Manipulators by A. B. Rechnitzer – Received 9 June 1975
The U.S.S.R. is actively involved in automation research. The importance of this technology is evident by a special Commission on the Theory and Principles of Robot and Manipulation Devices within its Academy of Science. The Commission is responsible for forecasting development trends and the U.S.S.R. automation research program. The U.S.S.R. is putting significant emphasis on the development of robots and remotely operated systems involving supervisory control, artificial intelligence and systems development. Russian literature related to industrial robots and manipulators is extensive and reflects strong national interest and support active research, development and a high level of competence.
Research on undersea remotely manned systems at the Pyotr Shirshow Institute of Oceanology of the U.S.S.R. Academy of Sciences is comprehensive and reflects much innovation. Vyacheslav Yastrebov, Head of the Underwater Research Technique Laboratory leads the development of the theoretical and engineering principles contributing to the design of remote controlled underwater craft. Beginning in 1964 the aim of Yastrebov and his associates has been to develop systems for deep ocean research.
The first system to appear was called the Crab. The unmanned cable-controlled unit carried a TV system and photographer camera, a hinged telescopic manipulator, a hydraulic power system, a remote control system and an autonomous storage battery supply. The sample manipulator gripper could pick up objects of varying shapes at a maximum reach of 0.4 m.
The Crab can be landed on the sea floor to gain a stationary and stable condition. The undercarriage of the craft is fitted with a three-bearing platform that permits controlled rotation of the upper section containing the TV, camera and manipulator can be rotated around the vertical axis 320°. The upper section can also be inclined 30° for scanning and use of the manipulator through a concentric work area envelope with a 2.2 m inner dia. and 3 m outer dia. The manipulator scoop (gripper) is turned back (elbow) and retracted to position the sample over a storage bin. The manipulator and platform rotation are hydraulically powered.
Control commands and slow frame rate (10 frames per sec) television image are communicated to a surface support vessel via a coaxial cable. A frequency-time separation technique is used for transmitting control and TV-image signals at a carrier frequency of 3.5 Mc/s. Stepped finders are used in the craft as switching devices and information is transmitted via 22 channels.
The Crab went through its sea trials in the Black Sea in early 1972 down to a depth of 1500 m. Later the craft was used in the Tyrrhenian Sea to explore the tops of volcanic mountains summits at depths of 100-1200 m. Pictures of the sea-bed were obtained using TV and motion picture cameras in both the flying and resting modes. Specimens were collected using the manipulator.
An upgraded version of Crab Two has been built for operation to depths of 4000 m. Its manipulator, designed for 4000 m. use has 7° of freedom and is described as a copying manipulator (interpreted to mean master-slave). This manipulator has been tested aboard the U.S.S.R. manned submersible Sever-2.

Experienced gained from the two versions of Crab has lead to the development of a system of operating near the sea floor. This craft, named Manta is equipped with thrusters and a push-button control panel. Manta encompasses many features common to the Crab. A key added feature is the surface controller's chair that is coupled to the Manta vehicle through a servo-feedback circuit that repeats the pitch and roll of the Manta to provide an operator sense of presence. This innovation has proven to be very effective when tested against the traditional fixed chair for the operator.
The Manta manipulator performance has been upgraded by the introduction of preprogrammed motion instructions to carry out repeat actions involved in grasping and storing collected samples.

Source: Mechanism and Machine Theory, 1977 Vol 12. pp. 51-56 Pergamon Press.

The Institute of Oceanology, USSR, capitalizing on experiences with the 4,000m CRAB-4000 in 1971, developed the MANTA vehicle. The operational theory behind MANTA was that it is practically impossible for a man to successfully operate a moving system without a proper feedback which acts upon the whole complex of sensors within his central nervous system (Mikhaltsev, 1973). A group of tenso-sensors was mounted on MANTA and a special servo-controlled, hydraulically-driven operator's chair which closed the feedback circuit, was constructed.
The chair repeated all the roll and pitch movements of the underwater vehicle and allowed the operator to feel MANTA' s maneuvering. Further sophistication was added by incorporating the feedback provided by the manipulator's tenso-sensors into a simple computer which gave the preprogrammed computer the ability to command the manipulator system. As of 1973 the preprogramming was fulfilled, but only under laboratory conditions. Source: Remotely operated vehicles / prepared by R. Frank Busby Associates, 1979.


The "MANTA-1500"


See other early Underwater Robots here.

1966 – STAR II Submersible – General Dynamics (American)


1967 – STAR II Submersible by General Dynamics.

Manipulator Arm: One Electro-hydraulic with 4 degrees-of-freedom. Full reach – 4 ft 1 inch. Payload at full reach – 150 lb. Mechanically jettisonable. Made by General Dynamics.


Source: Manned Submersibles, Bushby.



Source: Manned Submersibles, Bushby.


Above: Advertisement highlighting the manipulator arms developed at General Dynamics.


Press Photo c1967.

Star II and Star III (foreground), the two research submarines launched by General Dynamics last month at its Electric Boat Division in Groton, Conn., completed their preliminary sea trials this week. Star III, which is 25 feet long and can carry a 1,500 pound payload, compared to Star II's 250 pounds, is in Atlantic waters preparing for advanced testing of its 2,000 foot depth capability. The boat was leased last week by the Military Sea Transportation Service to conduct oceanographic research surveys off Bermuda under technical direction of the U.S. Navy's Underwater Sound Laboratory. The 17.7 foot long Star II is being readied for exhibition in next week's Marine Technology Show in Washington, D.C., where it will form the central part of General Dynamics' multi-divisional presentation there.

See other early Underwater Robots here.

1966 – Underwater Power Source – Renic P Vincent, Lawrence B Wilder (American)



Underwater power source

Publication number    US3418818 A
Publication type    Grant
Publication date    31 Dec 1968
Filing date    22 Apr 1966
Priority date    22 Apr 1966
Inventors    Renic P Vincent, Lawrence B Wilder
Original Assignee    Pan American Petroleum Corp

ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE A method and apparatus for supplying power to underwater apparatuses which makes use of the head of water at the depth of the apparatus to drive a hydraulic motor. A lower pressure container is provided to receive discharge water from the hydraulic motor. Means are further provided to rejuvenate the low pressure container.

This invention relates to apparatus for carrying out operations at underwater installations such, for example, as at an underwater wellhead, an underwater oil and gas producing facility or storage and the like. It relates particularly to a novel way of supplying power for such underwater apparatus.

The search for oil and gas has in recent years led to the drilling of many wells in water-covered areas. In fact, many of our more prolific oil and gas wells have been discovered in such marine locations. Many of the wells for the development of such fields may be drilled in water up to 600 feet or more in depth. These developments of offshore locations are resulting in the installation of large amounts of underwater equipment used in producing the oil and gas fields. Many of these installations are at depths below that at which divers can safely work. Therefore use has been made of what is known as an underwater manipulator in installing underwater equipment on the ocean floor for such wells or for carrying out workover operations underwater at any of the various ocean floor installations.

The manipulator may take various forms but usually includes a compartment maintained at near atmospheric pressure for the operator and is further provided with robot-like arms extending from the exterior of the compartment for performing various operations such as holding equipment, tightening or loosening bolts and the like. One such underwater manipulator is shown in US. Patent 3,165,899.

One of the major problems in the use of such underwater manipulators is that of providing an adequate power source for the various operations of the manipulator. Electrical storage batteries provide the most common means of power. However, these batteries add considerably to the bulk and weight as well as to the cost of such manipulators or vessels containing such manipulators.

It is an object of this invention to provide a novel means for supplying power for underwater manipulators.

In a preferred embodiment, an underwater vehicle which has a body structure for supporting the manipulator arms is provided with a high strength container (in addition to the operators compartment) which is able to withstand great pressures. A hydraulic motor is supported by the vehicle. The high pressure side or inlet of the hydraulic motor is connected to the water exterior of the vehicle which is at a pressure dependent upon its depth. For example, at a depth of 600 feet, the exterior pressure approaches 275 p.s.i. The discharge side of the hydraulic motor is connected to the container which is at atmospheric pressure or at about 15 p.s.i. The differential pressure across the hydraulic motor then is well over 250 p.s.i. which is quite substantial. As power is needed, water 3,418,818 Patented Dec. 31, 1968 from exterior the vehicle is admitted to the hydraulic motor.

The discharged water from the hydraulic motor eventually fills the container to the point that the pressure within the container approaches that of the Water at the depth of the vehicle. When the container becomes filled with water, according to our invention, the system can be rejuvenated rather easily. We have provided check valve means in an outlet from the container to the water surrounding the vehicle. The cheok valve means can be held shut by a spring aided by the hydraulic force exterior of the container. Before the vessel descends, a slow burning propellant in a water-proof enclosure is placed within the container. A suitable propellant is identified as Amoco Chemical AGF which is an ammonium nitrate base with an asphaltic filler and commercially available from Amoco Chemical Corporation, Seymour, Indiana. When the container is filled with water, the propellant is ignited and will burn at a pressure higher than the ambient water pressure and at a temperature of about 3535 F. This pressure forces the water out through the check valve and in effect readily empties the container of water. At the moment the gas has forced the water out, the gas remaining in the container is at a pressure about equal to that of the surrounding water but at a temperature much higher. The check valve then closes. As the gas cools, the pressure in the container drops rather rapidly until it is well below the pressure of the surrounding water. Thus the container is ready to receive additional water from the discharge of the hydraulic motors and the system has in effect been rejuvenated.

See other early Underwater Robots here.

1966 – Underwater Manipulator System – John R Moore, James S Sweeney (American)


Underwater manipulator system

Publication number    US3414136 A
Publication type    Grant
Publication date    3 Dec 1968
Filing date    18 Jan 1966
Priority date    18 Jan 1966
Inventors    John R Moore, James S Sweeney
Original Assignee    North American Rockwell

ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE System for positioning an underwater manipulator arm to correspond with the position of an analog arm. The flow rate and pressure of the fluid transmitted to the hydraulic actuators used to move the manipulator arm are measured by transducers. The output of the transducers is integrated or otherwise processed by conversion circuits to produce a signal, indicative of the position of the manipulator, which signal is compared with another signal indicative of the analog arm position. An error signal thereby is produced which appropriately actuates valves controlling the fluid flow to the hydraulic actuators, thereby causing the manipulator arm to move to the desired position. Rate damping is provided to the analog arm to simulate the viscous damping experienced by the manipulator during motion in the viscous underwater medium.

This invention relates to an underwater manipulator system and more particularly to a system for controlling an underwater manipulator with an analog manipulator.

Conventional designs of underwater manipulator systems utilize bidirectional drive systems and binary control systems for the elements in the system. Visual observation is often relied on for position sensing. In more sophisticated control systems, optimal design utilizes controlled element position sensing. The position detector produces a signal proportional to the position of the device. From the detector signal and a reference signal, an error signal is produced to drive the controlled element. The lack of direct position sensing precludes precise control.

Control systems operated by simple binary switching to control position, velocity, etc. of a device tend to be difiicult to operate for accurate positioning.

Performance of a control loop composed of a simple drive system, large controlled element mass, lack of position sensing and transmission delay due to human reaction time is characterized by uncoordinated sequential manipulator movements, long action times and low precision.

Precision feedback by direct transducer sensing of the elements of the underwater manipulator is diflicult since the high pressure, corrosive undersea environment multiplies the problems of sealing the transducer and signal leads. Therefore, it is desirable to monitor the characteristics of the energy which actuates the elements of a manipulator.

The system of the present invention provides an improved control system which overcomes the deficiencies indicate dabove by measuring the characteristics of the actuating fluid, such as pressure and/or flow rate, to each manipulator element.

Briefly, the system comprises an analog arm of movable elements which may be positioned manually and an underwater manipulator of movable elements which is driven in accordance with signals generated by the analog arm to assume the same position. For example, if an element of the analog arm is positioned at a 45 angle with respect to a reference, the underwater arm element would be driven in synchronism to assume a 45 angle Patented Dec. 3, 1968 with respect to the reference. More specifically, the system utilizes a drive means which is responsive to the motion of an element of the analog arm and which provides a signal for driving an element of the underwater manipulator. Each element of the underwater manipulator includes a hydraulic position actuator which is driven by a fluid. Sensing means detects a corollary of the motion of each element of the underwater manipulator and generates a signal indicative of that motion. By knowing the initial position of the manipulator and the amount of motion, a new position can be determined if desired. The signal is generated by monitoring hydraulic fluid pressure and/or flow rate to a particular element being actuated. Each signal is compared by the drive means with a signal indicating the motion of an element of the analog arm. If they are different, an error signal is generated to drive the underwater arm until the amount of motion and therefore the signals are equal.

Each element of the analog arm includes sensing means and means for providing damping to approximate the natural damping of the underwater manipulator. Other features of the analog manipulator and arm are substantially the same except for size.

Although the analog arm may be positioned manually, in one embodiment, a computer monitored and controlled servo system is used. The terms arm and manipulator are interchangeable, although for clarity the analog portion is referred to as the arm and the external portion is referred to as a manipulator.

Therefore, it is an object of this invention to provide an underwater manipulator system having an improved positioning system.

It is another object of this invention to provide a system using anobservable analog device as a position reference for an underwater manipulator.

Another object of this invention is to provide a system reducing the visible detection required for the positioning of an underwater manipulator.

A still further object of this invention is to eliminate direct transducer sensing of the movablce elements of an underwater manipulator and to monitor the actuating hydraulic fluid characteristics for an indication of manipulator position.

A still further object of the invention is to provide rapid, accurate and coordinated manipulator control by measuring fluid pressure and/or flow rate to a manipulator element.


See other early Underwater Robots here.

1966-7 – DOWB Submersible – General Motors (American)


DEEP OCEAN WORK BOAT (DOWB), a two man submersible built by General Motors in the United States by General Motors AC Electronics Division, was initially launched on October l2, 1967.

Windowless, it has top and bottom "fish eye" lenses, plus television cameras, for full 360 degree vision.

A TV viewing system is mounted on the manipulator to give operators freedom of action necessary for performing useful work. The TV viewing feature will allow precision control when performing delicate operations or lifting objects.


 Source: Boy's Life, April 1968.


Image source: Manned Submersibles, Frank Bushby, 1976.


DOWB manipulator: One electro-mechanical manipulator possessing six degrees of freedom can pick up a 50 lb load at its maximum reach of 49 in. Manufactured by General Motors.

See other early Underwater Robots here.