Posts Tagged ‘1968’

1968 – Shinkai HU06 Submersible – (Japanese)

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The Maritime Safety Agency operates the underwater research vehicle (URV) HU06 Shinkai, with the support vessel Otome Maru. Built by Kawasaki Heavy industries. The Skinkai was commissioned in 1968.

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Press Photo: The Yen400 million survey submarine is expected to be completed by the Science and Technology Agency by December 1968. The [yet] unmaned vessel, now asked how to be called to the primary and junior high school children throughout Japan, will be 49.5 feet long, and 18 feet wide, displace 85 tons and submerge to a depth of 1,980 feet, utilizing 'magic hands' and TV and other cameras.
Photo shows: The model of the unnamed Yen400 million survey submarine by the Science and Technology Agency, Japan.

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1968 – Shinkai HU06 Submersible

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See other early Underwater Robots here.


1968 – Minsky-Bennett Arm – Marvin Minsky and Bill Bennett (American)

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Marvin Minsky with his Arm. Photo by Dan McCoy in OMNI Magazine, June 1980. Also called the "Tentacle" Arm.


Marvin Minsky   – Activating a dead crayfish claw

Selected transcript "And that’s the anatomy of the mechanical arm I built that you see in the MIT Museum today"

One of the first things that happened was I was in… having read about McCulloch and Pitts and starting to read about the nervous system, I found a laboratory where people were working on nerves. And this was run by a professor named John Welsh at Harvard. And… it’s a nice story because the Harvard Biological Laboratory is a huge building and this building was new at this time. We’re talking about 1949 or… it must have been '48 or '49. So, the building was two thirds finished and almost empty. So, I encountered this Professor Welsh and said I was interested in learning more about nerves and things like that. And he said: 'Well, we do a lot of experiments with invertebrate nervous systems and we’re…we're interested in how the crayfish claw works.' It’s a little arm. The joints of the arm are tetrahedra. They’re sort of hinged this way and then at right angles. The next hinge is this way and the next one is this way. And that’s the anatomy of the mechanical arm I built that you see in the MIT Museum today. It's… the joints are modelled on the joints of the crayfish claw. But anyway, Dr. Welsh said: 'The interesting thing about this crayfish claw is that it’s so easy to get at the nerves because…' he took out a crayfish and he said: 'You just break the limb off like this and pull it just like this and there’s this little transparent thread sticking out.' And it’s right there and you can see it with the naked eye and it consists of five nerves. And with a magnifying glass you can… and a needle, you can separate the five nerves. And one of them is an inhibitor nerve, so that if you stimulate with this nerve, the claw will close. Or, if you stimulate another nerve, it’ll move here but… you find the one that causes the claw to open and close. And then if you stimulate this other one, which is smaller, that’s the inhibitor nerve, it’ll open again even… so, I arranged a set of five switches and batteries or something – no, they must have been AC things – so that I could mount this crayfish claw here and the five nerves are connected to these five switches and… actually, I had it on potentiometers so you could vary the signal.

And after a couple of days, I got this thing arranged so I could get the crayfish claw to reach down and pick up a pencil and pick it up again. And… John Welsh called all the other biologists in and said: 'Look at this' and…  I was interested that they were so interested because… it seemed like such an obvious thing to do. So, he also… and you could get new crayfish every day because somebody drove up to some lake and… nearby and got them. And then, he also had me do some experiments with turtle hearts. And I don’t remember what these experiments were, but the main thing is that if you irrigate these things with cold water… these invertebrates are wonderful because these are cold blooded animals. And the turtle heart will work for a week if you just run Ringer’s solution through it and you can do really complicated experiments with almost no equipment.

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‘Hooke's joint’ in the claw of a crab. (After Willis.20)

Hooke's joints in nature – Willis20,32 also pointed out that—as is commonly found with useful mechanisms—nature achieved it first. The claws of a crab and other crustaceans embody a hinged plate of cartilage that acts as an asymmetric cross in a Hooke's joint, permitting articulation around two inclined axes (above).

20    Willis R. – Principles of mechanism 1870 Longmans Green London.

32    Moon F. – Robert Willis and Franz Reuleaux: pioneers in the theory of machines, Notes Rec. R. Soc. 2003 57, 209 230; erratum, ibid., p. 353.


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Two other undersea manipulator development efforts have unique features. One is the ten-jointed electrohydraulic arm built by Marvin Minsky's group at M.I.T. (fig. 94 below). Each of the joints has a single degree of freedom and is actuated by a hydraulic piston. A position transducer parallels the piston to insure that the arm assumes the same configuration as the replica control. This arm will eventually be computer-controlled.
Sophisticated control must supersede simpler switchboxes. The many-jointed electrohydraulic manipulator designed by Marvin Minsky, at M.I.T. under sponsorship of the Office of Naval Research, illustrates the potentialition of model control and the trend away from anthropomorphic configuration in undersea work .

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Source: Teleoperators and Human Augmentation, NASA: by W. R. Corliss – ‎1967

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Marvin Minsky's secretary Lucy riding on the Minsky-Bennett arm.

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Bill Bennett in a M.I.T. workshop.

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Bill Bennett demonstrating the enclosed arm..

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The articulated control arm.

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Still images from the video clips.


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Images from The Computer Museum:

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Color (sepia) image of the Minsky Arm. It's "hand " has curled fingers. A white board has been placed behind the arm to aid in viewing the arm.

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Color (sepia) image of the Minsky Arm. It's "fingers" are clasping the back of a metal chair. A white board has been placed behind the arm
to aid in viewing the arm. The Minsky Arm was created by Marvin Minsky at MIT in 1968. It has 12 single degree freedom joints and a hand.
It was controlled by a PDP-6 computer.

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B&W, robotic arm holding a blank white card, gradient background, black top to white bottom, 3 joints plus hand. Photo back, light pencil entry, middle left, vertically, "Minsky", "Tentacle Arm", "P4595"

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"This arm was developed by Marvin Minsky at MIT in 1968. Since it moved like an octopus, this early robot arm was called the Tentacle Arm. It had twelve joints and was designed to reach around obstacles. The arm was controlled by a PDP-6 computer and was powered by hydraulic fluids. It was designed to be mounted on a wall and could lift the weight of a person."

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Minsky Arm at M.I.T. Museum

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The Minsky Arm is now in the M.I.T. Museum with a Tomovic Hand attached.


Another robot arm based on a lobster's claw.

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Edward Ihnatowicz (1926-1988) built one of the world's first computer-controlled robotic sculptures, The Senster, between 1968-70. It is…

…about 15 feet long by 8 feet high, the Senster consists of six independent electro-hydraulic servo-systems based on the articulation of a lobster's claw. Crustaceans move by means of hinges, whereas most animals move by pivots, which are more difficult to reproduce in engineering[1].

1. Senster in "Science and Technology in Art Today" by Jonathan Benthall, Thames and Hudson, London 1972


See other early Underwater Robots here.


1968 – Scripps Benthic Lab Tensor Arm – Victor C. Anderson (American)

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FIGURE 95.—The Scripps tensor arm. Stress on the nylon filaments actuates the arm. (Courtesy of V. C. Anderson, Scripps Institution of Oceanography.)

The "tensor arm," conceived by Victor Anderson, at the Marine Physical Laboratory (MPL) of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, has 16 degrees of freedom (fig. 95). The entire arm is hydraulically actuated by nylon "tendons" strung along the exterior of the arm rather than by actuators placed at each joint. A pull on one side that is not compensated by an equal pull on the other side causes the whole arm to bend in a way similar to the muscle-tendon action in the human arm, except, of course, that the tensor arm possesses two unrestricted degrees of freedom at each joint. Sensor tendons parallel the actuator tendons and give the operator position feedback. The MPL tensor arm, also called Benthic Manipulator II, can operate directly in seawater and is intended for use in the MPL Benthic Laboratory "hive" for replacing electronics cards, wrapping terminals, and so on. In contrast to some of the more massive underwater manipulators just described, the tensor arm is only about 15 inches long. The novel actuation scheme is potentially very important in teleoperator design.

See more on the Benthic Laboratory here.


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Tensor arm manipulator
Publication number    US3497083 A
Publication date    24 Feb 1970
Filing date    10 May 1968
Inventors    Anderson Victor C, Horn Ronald C
Original Assignee    US Navy

ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE The description discloses a tensor arm manipulator which includes a series of plates which are interconnected by universal joints for pivotable action with respect to one another. The plates have a plurality of aligned apertures through which extend a plurality of tendons which are connected at one set of ends to selected plates. Accordingly, upon pulling the opposite set of ends of the tendons the plates can be pivoted to various positions to perform work functions.

The invention described herein may be manufactured and used by or for the Government of the United States of America for governmental purposes without the payment of any royalties thereon or therefor.

The Navy's man-in-the-sea program has become a reality with the Sealab I and Sealab II projects. These projects have been primarily directed toward testing the capability of man to work on the continental shelf areas of the oceans. The average depth of the continental shelves is approximately 600 feet which is only a small fraction of the average depth of the oceans, which is approximately 12,000 feet. Accordingly, a detailed study of the deep ocean areas must be carried on by man in a high pressure diving hull or with bottom located equipment and instrumentation which can collect data either automatically or by remote control operation.

One approach for prolonged study of the ocean bottom has been the Benthic Laboratory. This laboratory, which was used in support of the Sealab II project in 1965, is a bottom located inverted dome which is filled with kerosene and has along its inner periphery a series of plug-in electronic modules. These plug-in modules provide the circuitry for the collection and dissemination of ocean bottom data. It is envisioned that the Benthic Laboratory will become a permanent fixture on the deep ocean floor and that various remotely controlled bottom vehicles, which are controlled by the laboratory, will collect ocean data such as core samples, TV viewing, and temperature and current data.

It is necessary in the Benthic Laboratory to occasionally reposition TV cameras, operate switches, mate connectors, and remove and replace modules. Because of the permanency of the Benthic Laboratory on the ocean floor and its operation without the aid of man in attendance thereof, it has become necessary to provide a manipulator substitute for mans arms to perform the necessary work functions. The present invention provides such an arm substitute which will enable remote functions as described above. The present manipulator includes a series of plates which are interconnected by universal joints for pivotable action with respect to one another. Each of the plates has a plurality of apertures. Extending through these apertures is a plurality of tendons which are connected at one set of ends to selected plates. Accordingly, upon selectively pulling opposite ends of the tendons the plates can be pivoted to desired positions resulting in a snake-like movement of the entire arm assembly. One end of the manipulator may be provided with fingers or a tool which may also be operated by the tendons. The tendons may be selectively pulled by means including a computer which is programmed to perform work functions of the arm and fingers to achieve desired work functions.

An object of the present invention is to provide a manipulator which has dexterity similar to the human arm.

Another object is to provide an arm manipulator which can be positioned in six spatial coordinates by simply selectively tensing a series of tendons.


See other Victor C. Anderson manipulator articles here.

See other early Underwater Robots here.


1968 – Legged Underwater Vehicle Patent – Hugh A. Ballinger (British)

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1968 – Legged Underwater Vehicle Patent by Hugh A. Ballinger.

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Underwater vehicle

Publication number    US3550386 A
Publication date    29 Dec 1970
Filing date    28 Mar 1968
Priority date    31 Mar 1967
Inventors    Ballinger Hugh Anthony
Original Assignee    Atomic Energy Authority UK

An underwater vehicle comprising a free flooding streamlined body shell attached to a control cable, one or more retractable manipulator arms mounted on a rotatable turret within the body, propulsion means and manoeuvring control means, and a retractable limb.

This invention relates to remotely controlled devices and is particularly concerned with devices for undersea use.

The requirement for remotely controlled marine devices arises for exploratory purposes, seat bottom sampling and the inspection and recovery of objects on the sea bed.

According to the present invention an underwater vehicle comprises a free flooding streamlined body shell attached to a control cable, one or more retractable manipulator arms mounted on a rotatable turret within the body, propulsion means and manoeuvring control means, and a retractable limb.

Preferably the limb is provided with suction pad at its free end, and the propulsion, manoeuvring control, and retractable limb are powered by a low-pressure water moving pump.

Preferably the limb is mounted on a rotatable sponson and the sponson is provided with a water jet discharge opening forming part of the said manoeuvring control means. The water jet discharge opening or openings may be arranged axially and/or radially with respect to the axis of rotation of the sponson if desired.

FIG. 1 above is a diagrammatic drawing showing an underwater vehicle constructed in accordance with the features of the present invention.

FIG. 2 below is an enlarged schematic view of a portion of FIG. 1 showing the limb in the retracted position, showing the foot pad in cross-section and showing the fluid lines schematically.

Referring to the drawings accompanying the complete specification the vehicle comprises a streamlined fibreglass body shell 1 formed on an internal tubular steel frame and attached by a cable stirrup 2 at the end of a control cable 3. The body is provided with guide vanes 4 which surround the main propulsion jet apertures 5 at the rear of the vehicle. A retractable pod 6, positioned centrally at the front end of the body, houses a television camera unit. One of a pair of retractable hydraulically operated manipulator arms 7 is housed in a rotatable turret located within the body on each side of the pod 6. Search light and television camera lights (not shown) are also located in faired housings on the body.

The body is provided with four retractable telescopic limbs 9 each limb being mounted on a rotatable sponson 10 rotatable about axis 23 attached to the sides of the body. Each limb terminates in a foot portion 11 and the foot is provided with a plurality of suction pads 24, each pad having a limiting orifice 25 and communicating via a central duct 26 in the limb with a low pressure sea water pump 12 through limb 9 and line 27 located within the body shell.

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Note that the legs are not for walking.


See also 1967 – RIVET (Remote Inspection VEhicle Telechiric) by Hugh A. Ballinger.

See other early Underwater Robots here.


1968 – Beaver Mark IV Submersible – Rockwell (American)

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1968 – Beaver Mark IV Submersible by North American Rockwell. Renamed “Roughneck” in 1969.

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UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 01:  Submarine Beaver Mark Iv In 1970.  (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)

UNSPECIFIED – JANUARY 01: Submarine Beaver Mark Iv In 1970. (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)

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Each of the two manipulators has a 9-ft reach, eight degrees-of-freedom, and a 50-lb lifting capacity. The two manipulators can be equipped with nine different tools to perform various tasks. These tools are: impact wrench, hook hand, parallel jaws, cable cutter, stud gun, centrifugal pump, grapple, drill chuck, and tapping chuck. Rates of motion are variable.

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Above and below photo source: Manned Submersibles, Bushby.

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Artists concept.


See other early Underwater Robots here.