Posts Tagged ‘1966’

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.

1966 – “Herman” Mobile Remote Manipulator – PaR Systems (American)


The PaR-1 mobile manipulator. The vehicle and manipulator are powered and controlled by cable. The manipulator arm and the two TV cameras are mounted on articulated booms. The height of the central support tube is 68 inches. PaR was a subsiduary of GCA when this model came out.


PaR-1 with its remote operating console. It is cable-connected.



"Herman" Mobile Remote Manipulator

robot_herman-22 -x640

Nuclear Radiation Can't Scare Robot – Source:The Cornell Daily Sun, Volume 95, Number 122, 6 April 1979

Middletown , Pa . AP If the time comes to walk into a room hot with lethal doses of radiation at Three Mile Island, the first one in will be Herman — and he won't have a choice.
Herman is a robot.
As a nuclear life-saver , he has worked wonders.  But as a robot, the 13-year old mechanical marvel probably would be a vast disappointment to science fiction fans weaned on R2D2.
Herman is mainly a large motorized box. He (she? it?) is 5 feet long, 6 feet tall and mounted on tank-like treads. He has one long arm and two strong fingers.
The robot's range extends to 400 feet, a limit set by his umbilical cord, a power control cable.
Harold Denton , operations chief for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, told reporters Wednesday: "We haven't used Herman the Robot yet, but we hope to use him to take samples in high radiation areas and avoid unnecessary exposures of radiation to people."
Herman was created in 1966 when a fire at the government's Savannah River uraniun enrichment plant in South Carolina showed the need for remote-control, mobile equipment that was radiation resistant.
Two television cameras give Herman his sight . He can switch from performing delicate manuevers to lifting 160-pound loads or dragging 500 pounds , said James Alexander, an official of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, where Herman is usually kept in the "Y-12 weapons  plant."
"Herman has a very delicate touch. He can do many things as you can do with your two fingers," Alexander said. "He can turn valves. He can pick up very small objects … He can take a bucket in behind him, put it on the ground, reach over, pick up something, put it in bucket, the take the bucket, put it somewhere else."
This would be Herman's first tour of duty at a commercial nuclear power plant but he has shown his worth before in dealing with nuclear incidents.
A few years ago, Herman freed a container of radioactive Cobalt 60 that had gotten stuck in a pneumatic transfer tube in a lab at the University of Rochester.
Another time, Herman crawled into a physics lab at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., to retrieve a radioactive source that had gotten loose. Using his single arm, he placed the source back into its protective container.


At the time [1984], with the Department of Energy's okay, the robot and operators are dispatched to the troubled site. Union Carbide receives what it terms a "full recovery" fee—money that covers the salaries of the robot's personnel, transportation, lodgings, and meals. Union Carbide does not sell the Y-12 plant mobile manipulator, as Herman is known. It paid $63,010 when it bought the robot several years ago. Vehicles like Herman could still be bought from Programs and Remote Systems Corporation.



Y-12's Herman still on standby

 Four Oak Ridge Y-12 Plant men who operate the plant's mobile manipulator or robot, nicknamed "Herman," have returned home after a week of standby duty at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant, subject to 24-hour recall. The robot remains at Three Mile Island.
 Robert W. Frazier, team leader, William Pankratz, Thomas E. Copeland and Richard Turner, all of Y-12 Maintenance Division, were summoned to the power plant site March 30 to operate the robot if its services were needed during the emergency. The manipulator system was transported to Pennsylvania in its travel van, driven by Department of Energy personnel.

 One mission considered for the robot was that it enter a room which has a high radiation level and take samples of the primary coolant water for chemical and radiological analysis. During their week's stay at the power plant, the crew members rehearsed this mission, which would have involved about 35 separate operations and would have required 8 to 10 hours to complete.
     Press interest
 At week's end, Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials at the scene informed the Y-12 team that the operation had been postponed and that team members could return home, subject to possible recall at a later time. The manipulator system was reloaded into the travel van, but is being retained at the power plant site.
 The robot apparently captured the imagination of news reporters covering the story. Wire services and newspapers across the nation requested file photographs of the maniuplator system, and all three national television networks requested file videotape scenes of the system in action (made in a Y-12 documentary video program in 1977). The robot provided the lead story for the "CBS Evening News" program on April 4 [1979].        
The manipulator system, built to Nuclear Division design specifications by a commercial vendor [PaR Systems] in 1966, consists of the mobile manipulator, its control console and a workroom-laboratory. The manipulator is designed to operate at distances up to 700 feet from the control console, to which it is attached by a cable. The manipulator is about five feet long, six feet high and about two and one-half feet wide. It has a mechanical hand capable of lifting 160 pounds and dragging 500 pounds. Two television cameras mounted behind the arm transmit pictures to monitors on the control console.
  The manipulator system was obtained by Y-12 as a safety support
backup in operations involving the handling of toxic or radioactive materials in the plant. It has been used outside Oak Ridge on two previous occasions to recover radioactive sources: at the University of Rochester in 1975 and the University of the South at Sewanee in 1976.

Source: Nuclear Division News [Union Carbide] April 19, 1979.


Record cover made soon after the Three Mile Island accident in 1979.

PaR is still in business and this is their current single-arm remote mobile manipulator.



See also post titled "1960 – Space Manipulators – General Mills" for description on General Mill's approach to manipulator design concepts.

See other early Teleoperators here.