Posts Tagged ‘1983’

1983 – “Kludge” Omnidirectional Mobile Robot – John M. Holland (American)

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1983 – "Kludge" Omnidirectional Mobile Robot by John M. Holland.

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Kludge with legs contracted.

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Kludge at a 1984 exhibition.

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John M. Holland.

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The focus in this post is on the unique mobility base, and not on its navigation and sensor qualities.


Patent Information:

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Publication number    US4573548 A

Publication date    4 Mar 1986
Filing date    23 Jul 1983
Priority date    23 Jul 1983
Inventors    John M. Holland
Original Assignee    Cybermation, Inc.
Mobile base for robots and the like
US 4573548 A
Abstract
A mobile base for robots or other devices requiring a transport mechanism is disclosed incorporating a plurality of wheels which are simultaneously driven and steered by separate drive sources so as to allow the mobile base to change direction without rotation of the mobile base. In an additional embodiment, each wheel is located on an extensible leg assembly which can be rotated to project outwardly from the mobile base and thereby provide additional stability to the base. This adaptive, retractable leg synchro-drive mobile base uses a third drive source to perform the extension and retraction of the leg assemblies and provides that the wheels maintain their orientation while extension or retraction occurs while the mobile base is in translation and that the wheel orientation returns to its previous state if retraction or extension occurs while the base is not in translation.

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Source: Basic Robotic Concepts, John M. Holland, 1983.

Synchro Drive (Author)
The synchro drive system shown in Fig. 3-18 features three or more wheels (in this case four) that are mechanically synchronized to each other for both steering and power. Synchronization can be accomplished by the use of chains (as shown), or by gears. Each wheeled "foot" assembly contains a 90° miter gear arrangement as shown in Fig. 3-19. The housing of the foot is driven by the steering chain, while the inner shaft is connected to the drive chain. The

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Fig. 3-18. Synchro-drive using chain coupling.
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Fig. 3-19. Steering action of the synchro-drive foot assembly.
system offers some interesting characteristics when it is driven. Since the wheels steer together, the base does not change its rotational orientation when the robot executes a turn. For this reason, the upper torso of the robot (which contains the vision and ranging systems) is pivoted and mechanically linked to the steering chain. By driving the steering chain with a stepper motor (and gear reducer) the robot can execute very precisely controlled turns.
Notice that the miter gear (Fig. 3-19) must be on the opposite side of the power shaft from the wheel. This is because of the interplay between steering and wheel drive. If the power chain is stationary (the robot is not moving), and the steering chain causes the foot to execute one complete revolution, the wheel power shaft will experience the equivalent effect of one revolution in the opposite direction. With a miter gear having a ratio of 1:1 and located as shown, the wheel axle will revolve once in such a way that the wheel rolls around an arc as shown in the figure. This action is much easier on treated
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surfaces than having the wheel pivot about its center line. With the 1:1 ratio, the robot will not wobble as the turn is executed, if the wheel radius (r) is equal to pivot radius (r'). Unfortunately, this may mean that in the inboard rotational position (the right-most wheel in Fig. 3-18A) is displaced sufficiently under the robot to cause a deterioration of the zone of stability. If the pivot radius (r') is shortened, the robot will appear to "belly dance" as the steering is operated. If this is objectionable, the miter gear can be selected to have a ratio equal to the ratio of the circumferences of the two circles associated with r and r'. This of course means that it will be the ratio of the two radiuses.
The system has some attractive qualities, but it is not overly stable because it cannot adapt to steep terrain. For robots operating on flat surfaces, it is a good alternative.
•    Efficiency: Fair to good
•    Simplicity of Control: Excellent
•    Traction: Good
•    Maneuverability: Excellent
•    Navigation: Excellent
•    Stability: Fair to poor depending on the number of wheels
•    Adaptability: None
•    Destructiveness: Excellent
•    Climbing: Poor
•    Maintenance: Fair to good
•    Cost: Low to moderate
Adaptive Synchro Drive with Retractable Leg Assemblies
The adaptive synchro drive represents a compromise between the complexity of a walking robot, and the simplicity (and poor stability) of the synchro drive. The requirement that led to this design was to provide a robot that could negotiate relatively steer ramps, and that could climb over mild curbs without falling over. The solution was to add a degree of adaptability to the synchro drive. This was to be accomplished in the simplest possible manner, and the result is shown in Figs. 3-20, 3-21, and 3-22.
The adaptive synchro drive has the same basic power and steering chain arrangements in the base as did the original system, except that at the positions where the wheels were, there are now pivoted
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Fig. 3-20. Synchro-drive leg assembly.
leg assemblies. A set of two chains in each leg transmits the drive and steering control to the same type "foot" assembly used in the synchro drive. Fixed to each leg at the pivot point is a chain sprocket connected to a third stepping motor and gear box arrangement. The power and steering shafts run concentrically through this sprocket into the leg. This arrangement allows the legs to rotate about their pivots (Fig. 3-23), thus changing the effective area of the base. As the legs rotate, the linkages are such that the wheels continue steering in the original direction. Since there is no capability of steering the wheels individually, they cannot be caused to "toe in" during collapsing. For this reason, a certain amount of rolling motion is required to allow this action to take place without damaging the surface on which the robot is running. To accomplish this, the action of the retraction (collapse) motor can be locked to the main drive motor. If the legs must be retracted in a short distance, the robot may have to roll forward and backward once or twice. Alternatively, it can execute a continuous turn with the drive motor turned off. Another disadvantage to this system is that the base orientation cannot be controlled. Thus if the robot approaches a load with the legs extended, it must make do with whatever the orientation of the legs might be. A modification to the steering chain may be added to overcome this problem.
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Fig. 3-21. Diagram of a synchro-drive with retractable leg assemblies.
This modification would consist of three movable idlers taking up chain slack between the wheels. In the normal position of these idlers, the wheels would all steer in the same direction. In the other idler position the wheels would all steer tangentially and the robot base could pivot on its own axis. Unfortunately, this reduces the simplicity and economy of the design.
Like the synchro drive, this carriage can steer through 360 degrees without moving. This eliminates the need for backing up. There are several advantages to avoiding this maneuver, including the elimination of rear facing obstacle detection systems and the elimination of polarity reversing circuitry on the main power motor. This second factor improves efficiency since solid-state polarity reversing circuitry always induces some power loss.
This whole arrangement is of course an elaborate compromise, but it was one that satisfied our needs. The lack of independent wheel steering control was traded off for the simplicity of control and economy of having only one drive and one steering motor. The two main sacrifices that had to be made were in the area of efficiency and maintenance.
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Fig. 3-22. Photograph of a synchro-drive with retractable leg assemblies (battery removed from foreground).
My experimental version of this system (named "Kludge") has been very successful, and the efficiency is better than expected. With 8-inch diameter tires and its legs extended, Kludge can climb over 4 X 4-inch timbers (actually 3.5 X 3.5 inches). My totally unbiased assessment of this approach is:
•    Efficiency: Fair to good
•    Simplicity of Control: Excellent
•    Traction: Good
•    Maneuverability: Excellent
•    Navigation: Excellent
•    Stability: Fair with legs retracted, excellent with them extended
•    Adaptability: Adaptable to ramps and small single steps
•    Destructiveness: Excellent with precautions mentioned above
•    Climbing: Poor
•    Maintenance: Fair (I hope)
•    Cost: Moderate
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Fig. 3-23. Rotational collapsing and the change of the zone of stability.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
….I would also like to thank Mr. Robert Pharr of Roanoke, Virginia, whose mechanical expertise brought the mobile robot "Kludge" from a concept to a reality. Thanks must also go to my technician, Mr. William Grady Spiegel, for his support in breadboarding many of the circuits associated with Kludge and other systems discussed in this book…
JOHN M. HOLLAND


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The Old Robots conveniently has a pdf of this article.

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Source: ROBOTICS AGE January 1985 [edited]
RETHINKING ROBOT MOBILITY
John M. Holland
Cybermation, Inc.
When human beings attempt to solve a problem, they tend to match successful past solutions to the new situation. While this problem solving technique is extremely helpful in day-to-day situations, it can be misleading when we attempt to solve unique new problems. The trouble is that this whole conceptual process is so unconscious that we are unaware of the assumptions we make along the way. The problem of robot mobility is an excellent example.
When we start thinking about robot mobility systems, we immediately catalog the solutions to mobility problems in other fields. Most present-day mobile robots use a version of the mobility system originally designed for either a tricycle, a wheelchair, an automobile, a tank, an all-terrain vehicle, a wagon, or a combination of these. In some cases, the designer has turned to nature for inspiration and the result may resemble a spider or even an elephant.
Many mobile robots are well adapted to the problems they are designed to solve. For example, robots like the Ohio State University (OSU) Hexapod or the Odetics Odex I walker are required for certain rough-terrain applications. In fact, an article by R. B. McGhee, et. al. (see references) shows that walking robots may actually be more efficient than wheels or treads on soft surfaces. Still, it is very important to realize the original problem for which the technique was developed.
Attempting to apply existing vehicle designs to robots quickly points out the difference between the intelligence and sensory capabilities of a robot "driver" and a human operator. The robot driver will be a relatively stupid, nearly blind computer. Expecting a robot driver to perform the classical parallel parking maneuver for an automobile is optimistic in the extreme.Solutions based on animal models have an additional problem since animals are constructed from different materials than those available for the robot. For example, muscle tissue provides both an excellent lightweight servomechanism, and compliant springiness that can be used to store and recover kinetic energy.
SPECIFICATIONS
Before designing a robot mobility system, we must determine the robot's intended capabilities and make several trade-offs for cost vs. performance.
The first major trade-off is between walking and rolling. While a walking robot can go almost anywhere, it will tend to be very complex mechanically, difficult to control, expensive to build, slow, and (on finished surfaces) relatively inefficient. Some of these difficulties can be eliminated, but only at the expense of making others worse. Depending on the applications, the ability to climb stairs, rubble, and undefined obstacles, may outweigh all other considerations. On the other hand, it may be more economical to replace stairs in the robot's environment with ramps, thus making a rolling robot acceptable.
There are always restrictions on the robot as well. These restrictions include the width and height clearance available, the maximum weight, the damage that it can be permitted to inflict on its running surface, etc.

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…….
As the robot design progresses, it is sometimes necessary to back up and modify or subdivide the original performance envelope. For example, two models of the robot may become necessary to fulfill all requirements, or perhaps an ability may be dropped rather than modify the robot's operating environment.
The example used in Table 1 evaluates applications we had in mind for our Cybermation robots and is an approximate evaluation of our first prototype. These robots would be expected to perform teleoperated and autonomous functions in demanding industrial applications, including explosives factories, clean-rooms, and nuclear reactor buildings. Thus, as reflected in the table, initial cost is not as important as the maintenance costs and reliability. The ability to climb steps was dropped in favor of requiring ramps and lifts.

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THE SYNCHRO-DRIVE
The base consists of three wheel assemblies located on retractable legs. We call this the Synchro-drive since a set of chains is used to synchronously steer and drive all three wheels. The robot has three sets of motors, gear boxes, and chains; one for driving the wheels, one for retracting and extending the legs, and one for steering the wheels. Additionally, the steering chain is connected to a spine shaft running up through the center of the base. The robot's turret is mounted on a flange attached to this shaft, and rotates with the shaft in such a way that the turret always points in the same direction as the wheels.
This configuration gives the Synchro-drive some interesting capabilities. For example, the base does not rotate as the robot executes a turn. Not only does this save energy (by not requiring rotational acceleration and deceleration of the base), but it also allows the robot to maintain a sense of direction, by measuring the angle of the turret and base. One of the greatest advantages of the Synchro-drive is that steering and drive commands represent a pure polar coordinate reference system. This greatly simplifies navigation.
Furthermore, since the Synchro-drive has a true zero turning radius, it does not need reverse. This means that rear-facing sensors, and two (expensive) quadrants of the drive motor control can be eliminated.

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Finally, the wheel assembly is designed to allow turns without translation. This was accomplished by off-setting the wheel from the center of the steering axis and placing its driving gear in such a way as to impart a rolling action during steering. The robot can thus turn in place, without damaging carpets, tile, or wood floors.

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Table 2. Evaluation table for the Synchro-drive robot with concentric shafts and fixed legs.

The Synchro-drive approach evolved after many (informal) cycles through the evaluation process just described, and yet the approach still had short-comings at the point shown in Table 1.
The prototype (nicknamed Kludge) showed that the basic mode of movement was largely superior to other modes being considered, but the chains were a real problem. First, chains don't like to operate in a horizontal plane, and at least 180 degrees of engagement or purchase is required on each sprocket. This meant that many idlers had to be installed, which lowered efficiency and increased costs. Secondly, the chains stretch over time and must be adjusted. Additionally, the chains took up a lot of room and forced the robot's center of gravity to be higher than necessary. As a general rule, chains are noisy and dirty by nature. Finally, the wheels had to be realigned each time the chains were adjusted or tightened.
Each of these problems could be lessened by one measure or another, but the approach kept coming up short of our goals.
USING SHAFTS
The problem then became how to build a robot that had all the good qualities of Kludge but was clean, reliable, easily assembled and repaired, had a lower center of gravity, and required no realignment. It wouldn't hurt if the new approach was (in the jargon of the patent office) clearly novel as well. This would allow us to obtain patent protection for the engineering investment.
The solution was to use a unique combination of concentric shafts and bevel gears. With this configuration, the moving parts could be enclosed inside hollow tubes comprising the robot frame members. This eliminated pollution, and greatly reduced maintenance. Accurately keyed gears kept the steering in alignment at all times.
The second production prototype (K2A) contains only a handful of different types of bearings and gears that are used repeatedly throughout the design. Furthermore, the new approach allows the batteries, drive motor and gear box to be slung between the leg members, lowering the center of gravity. By doing this, and by extending the fixed legs slightly beyond the edge of the base, the robot is about 80 percent as stable as the first Kludge prototype with its legs fully extended, and about 160 percent as stable as the first prototype with its legs retracted. Although an extensible-leg version using concentric shafts is planned, the cost savings on the current model outweigh the loss of high-end stability, at least for most current applications.
The result of these improvements is shown in Table 2. Notice that for the relatively small loss of stability, the savings in other areas are substantial. As an additional advantage, the maneuver required for extending and retracting the legs was eliminated.
CONCLUSION
The emergence of mobile robots as an important economic reality will require the rethinking of the basic precepts of mobility. These new mechanical "beasties" will encompass an enormous variety of forms, each governed by the niche it is intended to fill. Exactly as in nature, those robots that best fill the requirements of their niche will flourish and evolve, and those that are hastily or ill-conceived will become extinct.
We have used the Cybermation Synchro-drive as an example, but the basic process of fitting a solution to the problem can be used in the development of any robotic system.
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REFERENCES
McGhee, R.B., KW. Olson, and R. L. Briggs "Electronic Coordination of Joint Motions for a Terrain Adaptive Robot." Society of Automotive Engineers, Inc. Warrendale, PA.
Raibert, M. H., et al. "Dynamically Stable Legged Locomotion." The Robot Institute, Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA. September 1981.
Holland, J. M., Basic Robotic Concepts. Howard W. Sams Publishing Co, 1983.


"Kludge" was a prototype. It evolved into the successful K2A then the K3A, subject to another post.

The company Cybermation became Cybermotion, and now KineLogic.


See other early Humanoid Robots here.
See other early Mobile Robots here.

1983 – MARVIN Robot – David Gossman et al (American)

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1983 – "MARVIN" the Robot by David Gossman et al. (Image source: Robot Tech Talk, 1985 by Ed  Radlauer.)

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MARVIN MARK I – "Mobile Anthropomorphic Robot VINtage high tech robot"

Marvin Mark I moves around the room, talks with a synthesized voice using his 500-word vocabulary, moves his head, has sonar ranging on board, and has two 6-axis arms that can be programmed to work simultaneously. Marvin is a somewhat anthropomorphic personal robot that stands approx 4 foot 2 inches tall and has two six-axis arms, an on-board Motorola 68000 processor and a standard disk drive. A total of 15 axes of movement can be operated simultaneously under computer control.


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 Text by bill_r:

     "Marvin" appeared on the scene somewhere around 1982 or 1983.  He featured the new (at that time) 68000 processor, and was actually very sophisticated, both mechanically and electronically.  The articulation and strength of the arms and hands were particularly impressive.  At that time, I was working for a small engineering company (Helman Engineering) prior to their relocation to South Carolina, helping to design and built fiber-composite tensioning systems for sale to the Air Force and aerospace industries.  At one time, we were asked to supply a bid on automated traffic control systems for highway construction sites.   (Apparently, the accident rate is fairly high, and holding a sign for hours has to be the world's most boring job.)  We kicked around some requirements, and decided that such a device should be self-contained, durable, capable of communicating with both the foreman and other robots on the job via radio, and equipped with visual warning devices for motorists as well as audible warnings for the road crew, should a car not slow down or otherwise pose a threat.  "Marvin" had recently come to my attention, and he looked like he might be a good place to start, so my boss (coincidentally also named Marvin) and I hopped in his red-white-and-blue stunt plane (he used to be a stunt pilot in an aerial circus, but that's another story altogether) and hopped over to Iowa to visit "Marvin's" home.  The pictures above were taken at the small factory.  The image of a robot assembly line (ala "Short Circuit" or "The Terminator") sticks in my head to this day.  I remember seeing tables holding row after row of arms, hands, heads, wheels, etc., ready to be assembled.  I don't know what happened to "Marvin" and his brothers, because I don't think I've ever seen one, or even a picture of one, outside those I saw at the factory that day.  The advertisement is one of a short series run in "Robotics Age" magazine.  (In case you were wondering, the traffic-control robot fell through; it seems it's cheaper to pay a human being to lean on a shovel all day…)

        Update 9/10/98:  Being curious if there were actually any "Marvins" around that I might adopt, I did some research.  The company is long gone, having gone bankrupt in 1990 due to the fickle fortunes of the robotics market.   They apparently sold a number of robots of varying designs before they vanished, however.  By speaking to the mayor of the town where the company once existed, I was able to make contact with two of the three people who designed and built "Marvin", who are still living in the area, but pursuing totally different occupations.  The 3rd person apparently moved to Minneapolis and later passed away.   I'd still like to give a "Marvin" a home, so if you know of any that are available, let me know!   

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Above images also from bill_r.


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MARVIN specification from The Personal Robot Book, Texe Marrs, 1985.


Most of the advertisements shown below are from various issues of Robotics Age journal. Some are reproduced by convenience from The Old Robots.

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Press photo of Marvin in Boston. Date and people unknown.

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Poor image From IEEE's Spectrum, May 1985.

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MARVIN at the IPRC 1984. Image by Richard Moyle via David Buckley's Historic Robots.


Source: The Daily Reporter – Sep 20, 1984

Branstad meets Melvin robot
By Judy Daubenmler, Iowa News Service
DES. MOINES — Gov. Terry Branstad got a helping "hand" with one of his office chores Tuesday and seemed pleased that the "hand" wasn't a human's.
The governor signed a proclamation declaring Sept, 30-Oct. 6 "Iowa High Tech Week" and in the spirit of the week, an Iowa-made robot handed the governor the document for his signature.
The robot, a 4-foot-2-inch, 150-pound electronic bundle called Marvin, told the governor, "I am pleased to be here" as he raised his arm and presented Branstad with the proclamation.
"I congratulate you humans on a great idea … and for choosing me to help you. From me and my pals in Iowa industry, thank you. Thank you, Governor Branstad. What a great week," said Marvin,
Calling it a "little different to be talking to robots," Branstad thanked the blue, pudgy, human-shaped machine and then tugged gently to loosen Marvin's
grip on the proclamation.
"Is he going to let go of it?" asked a skeptical Branstad.
A well-trained Marvin relaxed his grippers, surrendered the paper to the governor and then lowered his arm.
The little ceremony in Branstad's formal office was a sort of Iowa debut for Marvin, but his "father" says the little tyke may soon go on to bigger and better things.
David Gossman, chief executive officer of Iowa Precision Robotics, Ltd., in Melvin, said Marvin clones may show up in movies, television commercials and serials, industry and schools.
"Marvin was originally designed and developed to be an educational tool, a training aid, primarily at post-secondary institutions, to facilitate the training of individuals in programming robots for industry and for students on the engineering side of the card," he said,
Marvin's insides are much like the insides of industrial robots, but he sells for around $6,000 instead of $30,000 to $150,000 as industrial robots do, explained Gossman. That makes robotics courses affordable for post-secondary schools, he said,
Marvin contains a computer eight times more powerful than a common personal computer, He can be programmed with the help of a computer terminal that plugs into his back and a computer language the firm developed just for him.
Marvin has a large vocabulary, although Gossman admits his speech is sometimes hard to understand the first time it's heard. More understandable speech synthesizers could have been used but they had a limited vocabulary, he explained,
Marvin's two arms have six movable joints and can lift objects weighing up to five pounds.
He has wheels instead of feet and a sonar system that lets him find his way around objects by bouncing sound off them,
Gossman came up with the idea of manufacturing Marvin about two years ago when he saw that schools could use a sophisticated, yet cheap, tool to teach robotics.
Gossman said he decided to make Marvin have a human shape only because it "tends to attract attention" and not because there is any real need for him to look human-like,
Formerly with the Stylecraft firm in Milford, Gossman incorporated Iowa Precision Robotics in April 1983, So far, $250,000 has been spent in developing Marvin,
The firm now employs 10 people and will expand to 20 to 25 within six months.
Marvin is the demonstration robot, and the first production models will be put together in late September or early October,
Orders so far have come from Westinghouse, which plans to use Marvin as a tour guide, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and Hollywood,
"Six Marvins have been purchased by a prop supplier in Hollywood and we've been contacted by quite a number of people wanting to use the robot in television commercials, Conversations are going on that could mean one will find its way into a television serial, but I can't indicate which one," said Gossman.
Marvin is expected to have a market-life of about five years, and he's likely to be followed by "son of Marvin" after that as American businesses turn increasingly to robotics, Gossman said.
"I really don't know whether robotics is the wave the future, Wave of the future may be a bit strong," said Gossman,
"Obviously, industry is going to evolve into using more and more automated tools in order to maintain its competitive position against other countries.. We're no longer isolated.
"Whether the labor unions like it or not, industry will be forced to use robots. It's an evolutionary change rather than a revolutionary change."


Iowa Precision Robotics, Ltd. principals: David L Gossman (dec.), Matthew L. Plagman (dec.) and Rand Weaver of Iowa Precision Robotics, Ltd.


Iowa Precision comes battling back. (Iowa Precision Robotics Ltd.)

Article from: American Metal Market | July 1, 1985 | Dave Fusaro.

CHICAGO–Iowa Precision Robotics Ltd. recently laid off most of its staff and even had its phone disconnected, but chief executive officer David Gossman says the year-old maker of personal robots is now back on the track to profitability. The Melvin, Iowa, company has delivered its first personal robot–with four more to follow–and has also lined up another $400,000 in financing to keep the wolf from the door. "We've just gone through a really critical period for cash flow," Gossman acknowledged.

Robot Insider, trying to get up to date on Gossman's activities, wasn't the only caller frustrated by the disconnected phone. Joseph Collins, both Jr. and Sr., wanted to reach Gossman to talk possible merger.


Greg Johnson was also a Software Engineer who worked at Iowa Precision Robotics during May 1984 – June 1985 (1 year 2 months).

He developed a custom DC brushless motor with commutation algorithm and hardware. Worked on Z80 code for motor control for motion and articulation of the robotic arm. Fun work and everything was built from scratch.


Patent Info:

Publication number    US5166872 A
Publication type    Grant
Application number    US 07/851,116
Publication date    Nov 24, 1992
Filing date    Mar 16, 1992
Priority date    Jul 17, 1989
Fee status    Lapsed
Inventors    Rand D. Weaver, David L. Gossman, Matthew L. Plagman
Original Assignee    Ability Technologies Corporation

System and method for controlling devices through communication processors and pluralities of address-associated device controllers sharing each communication processor

Abstract
The system for controlling a plurality of devices includes a central processor that receives information from a user, translates the information into a command and sends the command to a communication processor. The communications processor formulates a device command to send to a remote device processor which is connected in close proximity to a device that the user wants to control. The communication processor also receives status information back from the device processor which has been accessed. The device processor receiving a command uses the command to control the device attached to the device processor. Each device processor is able to monitor the commands sent to other device processors and can be set to use these commands to control their attached device. This method of monitoring allows many devices to be controlled simultaneously with very few commands. The system also allows for different types of devices to be attached to the device controllers so the system can perform a multiplicity of functions.

Publication number    WO1991001520 A1
Publication type    Application
Application number    PCT/US1990/003866
Publication date    Feb 7, 1991
Filing date    Jul 10, 1990
Priority date    Jul 17, 1989
Inventors    Rand D Weaver, David L Gossman, Matthew L Plagman
Applicant    Ability Technologies Corp, Iowa Precision Robotics Ltd


As may be evident in the patent applicant above, the principals 'moved' to Ability Technologies Corp.

From the below article, under the Ability Technologies Corp banner, two more robots were built, "Futura" and "Versa Base." I have not been able to locate any pictures of further information on these.

The Daily Reporter    Spencer, Iowa    Friday, Feb. 9, 1990,    Page 3
LIFESTYLES
Sacred Heart students meet robots
Recently, Kent Lachner gave Mickic Moklestad's fifth grade class (from Sacred Heart School) a tour of his robotics corporation, Ability Technologies Corporation, in Melvin,
While there they met Futura, a robot designed after a woman. Futura will go to Rome, Italy this month to work in a pizza restaurant — she may also be a fashion model, Her sponsors include a soft drink company and a beer company.
Students learned that the black box that controls each motion of the robot is called an "intelligent motor controller," and that a robot can have tip to 64 of them, They also learned that robots can't read, but they can scan and record,
Students learned that robots can weld cars, help paralyzed or handicapped people, pick up clothes in a dress factory, be security guards, deliver hospital trays, deliver mail and cook,
Another thing they learned there is that robots can he made to move in three ways — hydraulics, pneumatics (air) and electronics. Ability Technologies Corporation uses electronics,
While there, students also met another robot called "Versa Base," who danced and did a power demo.


See other early Humanoid Robots here.
See other early Mobile Robots here.

1983 – Walking Wheel – Vladimir Ischein (Soviet Union)

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1983 – Soviet Walking Wheel by Vladimir Ischein.

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Google translation of original article here. I have not attempted to correct it.

During its 50-year history of our magazine § repeatedly told about the vehicles with conventional propulsion. In recent years, interest in beskolesiym machines has increased significantly. This is due primarily to the development of the Far North and the Far East, as well as other hard to reach areas where the transport problem is particularly acute. Prospectors, explorers, builders need high flotation technique: traditional, centuries wheel off-road becomes helpless. Which way to go!

To help designers came the young science of bionics, studying "patents" wildlife. Over millions of years of evolution, it has created a lot of perfect "mobile". According to its speed performance walking and running live "mechanisms" s almost inferior wheeled vehicles. A cross-country indicators they are much higher than that of the most advanced machines.

Using the findings of nature, the designers have created many different walking propulsion. Very original, for example, looked "pedicle device" (see .: «TM», № 11 in 1969). Tracking system, which is equipped with its design, as it connects the human leg with metal legs. Cost operator walked on the ground, and its mechanical twin hit the road at a rate far exceeding the speed of a pedestrian. Unfortunately, the practical application of the "pedicle device", however, as well as other non-standard design, and has not found.

Today, designers are trying to create a viable walking movers. And I must say, to

Biwa in this case some success. Edition presents to the readers and specialists develop engineer V. Ischeina who created the model of the vehicle with the original wheel-stepper-vym mover. Interested in the creative life of the young inventor.

As a student, Vladimir ische-in read an article by an engineer Kar-dashova "The new engine! Yes. Blades replace the pistons, "published in our magazine. He became interested in the construction of a new engine. Vladimir tried to eliminate its shortcomings. Came up with several options for connection blades, but they were already invented. It was certainly disappointing, but at the same time growing confidence: "I can and I am."

Lessons were not in vain. After that Vladimir realized how important to patent search, to be informed in the chosen field. His first certificate of authorship B. Ischein received for the development of the "hydraulic distributor." For this design Vladimir surprised himself was awarded the bronze medal of the USSR Exhibition of Economic Achievements.

Then he began to create walking and all sorts of other wheels. And in the end came up with a wheel diameter of variable for which to get exactly the copyright certificate, which is a sign of high quality invention.

Now V. Ischein continues to work to improve the wheels of various types. Draws up new applications.

As for the vehicle with the wheel-step mover, which has already been mentioned, it is in the summer of this year, will be on display in one of the exhibits of the USSR Exhibition of Economic Achievements. It is hoped that the construction of V. Ischeina attract the attention of specialists.

Roll or pitch?

(Or why not come up with the nature of the wheel)

VLADIMIR ISCHEIN engineer, Mr. M and N with a

One winter morning on the way to work I had to "boost" part of the way with a half-meter layer nametennogo night Buran snow. Carefully balancing on one leg, the other in the meantime I pulled out of a snowdrift, bore as far as possible, and carefully put the new location. Step, another step, another …

After a few minutes, considerably statute, out onto the sidewalk and cleared involuntarily thinking about energy process pacing. Immediately raised the question: why in the deep snow and swamp on the loose beach sand and dirt road we try to make the steps wider? Everyday experience tells me: so less tired. Indeed, the formation of deep track – a kind of technological

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V. ISCHEIN with its model of co-FOREST-step vehicle.

process commensurate with the energy consumption by digging a small hole. And the less we "dig up holes" in the same section of the route, the less tire.

When walking on fragile soils almost all expended in moving the work expended in forming the next, and its magnitude is proportional to the volume of soil crushes. The length of the human small step and you have to make a lot of trails to go, let's say a snowy field.

We now consider the worst case, when the step length is reduced so that individual tracks merge into a continuous trail. At this mode, the power consumption increases by many times, and if a person get so move on virgin snow, it falls from exhaustion after a few hundred meters …

But it is precisely because their way wheel and caterpillar naisovremenneyshy ATVs! When you look at shrouded in a bluish exhaust conveyor, punching with the utmost stress two deep ruts in the mud, it seems as if someone mistook the purpose of this machine, turning it into a kind of time on a trencher. Volume crushes ground rolling several times more than during walking, and hence the whole chain of the greatest advantages of feet in front of the wheels. Here lies the first part of the answer to the question of the title: "In the context of cross-country nature of the energy

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profitable to create in their wards imenro legs, not wheels. "

Unfortunately, the formation of wheel ruts not only have to spend a disproportionate amount of scarce fuel today, but also cause great harm to the nature.

An illustrative example – the Far North. Here in the tundra after each flight rover leaves a strip torn nezarastayuschie layer of moss, reindeer moss, which is the main food of deer and at the same time protects from destruction frozen ground. On the exposed areas as it melts, streams erode the track, forming a deep ditch, which last a long time, as if in silent reproach to remind us of the imperfection of the current movers.

Not cause as much damage to the national economy tractors and farm machinery, so that "proutyuzhivayut" soil, grain yields are often reduced by 36%, and in some cases, and all 50%.

Transition from rolling to the pacing at the same relative pressure on the ground several times reduce the area of ​​"traumatized" in the fields of soil, destroys moss, reindeer moss in the North, the broken ground on the roads.

Increased permeability during walking is primarily due to the ability to overcome larger obstacles, as well as a sharp decrease in the probability of slipping. All we have repeatedly witnessed the utter helplessness wheel when trying to get out of small holes led only to its deepening and subsequent "samozakapyvaniyu" to the very axis.

While released to the dirt wheel produces thrust by tangential forces of adhesion to the ground, the foot is pushed all the way by the forces at the base of the track. Moreover, if the wheel recess in the ground reduces his chances to get out, the deepening feet, on the contrary, this probability increases.

If the walking mechanism and slips, only slippery, but solid ground, where small depth formed track (clay, ice). But because of such conditions in nature are much less, then, of course, the use of a stepper mover leads to a reduction in fuel consumption and tire and allows more efficient use of traction qualities of the transport car.

In the exclusive terrain feet and is the second part of the

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Council imposed on the title question: "… why nature has not come up with a wheel?" Indeed, because if she could create a beautiful and self-lubricating bearings with seals for them, could "invent" and muscular drive rotary motion. However, there is no beast, no insects with wheels scientists have found.

And for good reason. Too many defects in the "ideal" mover. Driving wheel of the car can not climb even a small step, if its height is more than one fifth of the diameter. A free man is crossing a vertical wall height equal to the length of the legs. On the "cross" is our four-legged friends – animals – needless to say.

Why, then, all our mobile machinery has not yet been "put on your feet?" Why wheel reigns supreme on the roads? First, of course, because of its simplicity and unpretentiousness, perfect balance and low cost. After the appearance of mechanical engines with rotary motion of the shaft wheel is the best solve the problem of transformation of the movement into a linear movement of the machine.

In only one pair of wheel friction bearing – axis, so its internal losses are minimal compared to any pacing mechanism. On paved roads, and even more so on the rails at the wheels are very small and the external cost associated with the deformation of the material of the road and the wheel in the area of ​​their contact. So in cities and on highways comfortable traditional propulsion hardly lose ground in the near future.

However, off-road wheels for ease of account for a very dearly. In many cases, it does not provide the required terrain. Caterpillar tracks more than passable, but it is much more difficult and unreliable, expensive and heavier.

It is not surprising, therefore, that first of all, a person tries to teach foot traffic is off-road machines. Imitating step in animals and humans were created "plantigrade" mechanisms with intricate movement articulated legs. As a rule, they differed very complex kinematics and imbalance, their design is full of rods, levers and hinges. Sustained return leg led to the inertial loads and sharply limited the speed.

The main way of technology aimed at steadily increasing speeds of machines and mechanisms, and this inevitably leads to a transition to the rotational movements wherever possible. And that began to emerge walking wheel which returns "exhaust" feet by rotating them around the axis. The simplest version of such an engine can be obtained by making a conventional wheel rim several deep cuts that provide a stepping motion mode. But because of the violent shaking and bumps encountered during PERMUT-pany, on this wheel does not go far. If the vertical oscillations of the axis is still possible to somehow

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CORRUGATED STOCKING

CRANK HUB COUNTERWEIGHT KOJ1EOA

6ASHMAK

STEM

GEAR

PISTON

compensate specially constructed suspension, it strikes at the rigid structure of a walking wheel inevitable.

Hence, this requires dynamise wheel, that is to make it changing at transcend-nii. There have been attempts to implement it with the help of flexible elements, as was done, for example, Czech inventor Matskerle. Its design includes a number of flexible camera-feet fixed on the periphery of the wheel. Alternately supplying air to the chamber-shoes Matskerle achieved not only smoothness, but also made the wheel a whole new way to interact with the road for the first time the possibility of obtaining traction without applying torque to the hub. Upon pressurization chambers of the wheel is pushed from the ground in the same way as a skier running with sticks pushed snow. Senior rover "exercise bicycles" were manufactured, tested and delivered to the museum … Even small hole or mound proved insurmountable for him because of the small amount of deformation cameras.

However, this beautiful idea still continues to lure inventors, they are trying hard to eliminate the disadvantages of the "active" wheels. In Bauman Bauman attempted to set the camera on a radial stem extends, in Leningrad walked finally converted tractor "Belarus". He still had to keep the rotary drive wheels, combining it with the principle of "active" from the land of the repulsive gidrofitcirovannyh paws. Although the design looks cumbersome and slow-moving, it fulfills its mission – to develop more thrust.

Creating his own version of a walking wheel, I set the goal to get a universal mover, which could be successfully put on any ATV. Foreign design combined wheeled walking movers did not cause much excitement because of the complexity of the drive and violent shaking on the pacing mode (such as, for example, built in the United States, "Walking the devil" and "Paddy wagon", which are described in the book YS Ageykina "ATV wheel and dual propellers").

The main difficulty was to "force" the wheel axle to rotate without heave to find a simple and reliable device for a fairly large change in length of legs during walking. It appeared to be a normal crank mechanism housed inside the wheel hub. Its design is similar to the mechanism of star aircraft engine with a central crank. Only instead of the piston rods are connected with radially mounted rods, the ends of which are fixed elastic support shoes.

"Highlight" of the invention is that the crank shaft rotates faster than the hub, and as many times as the legs of the wheel. This condition is satisfied by a gearbox connecting coaxial shafts and crank hub. It was found that the optimal number of legs is four wheels, and the trajectory of the movement of their shoes at the same time close to an equilateral triangle with rounded tops and base parallel to the road. Wheel axle still has a small vertical oscillations of the motion, but with the help of selecting the parameters of the crank mechanism and the shape of the profile Clogs magnitude of these oscillations were able to "drive" in the range of 2-3% of the distance between the axle and the road.

By means of the crank shaft balances the wheel balance can be no worse than a conventional engine, which allows for "promotion" of up to several thousand revolutions per minute. While working on the wheel unwittingly got the idea that it is in itself is a kind of engine. It is only necessary to provide the piston rod, and the legs – cylinder and connect the latter through the valve with a pressure source located on the vehicle. Drive has been mo-torus-wheel can be air, steam, etc.. Etc.. Most promising hydraulic drive, successfully fought their way to the truck and agricultural machinery. This eliminates the need not only for hydraulic motors, but also gear. The resulting crank motor-you sokomomenten itself, plus the time of the crank shaft, before getting onto the hub, increasing four times the pressure reducer. In the case of a mechanical drive transmission machine is connected to the crank shaft and the gear again proves to be very useful because, in addition to its main function of the synchronization, it increases torque.

When the foot wheel is vertical, it creates thrust due to torque hub, but before the separation of the positions of the road leg is repelled from it mainly due to the extension rod – on the principle of "active" wheels. This should further increase the traction capabilities of machines with walking wheels.

Shoes are made in the form of air-filled rubber mounts with the protector on the outside and shaped, not prevent them from being out of the deep track. Since the area of ​​individual traces left by shoes is much smaller than the area of ​​the continuous track of the conventional tire, the stepping wheel should give large savings in the manufacture of a tire, as in the second operation. Tread tires round unproductive works: any portion thereof in contact with the road only a fraction of a second, and for nearly the whole turnover "idle." In walking the same wheel every shoe in contact with the road for a quarter of a turn, therefore, the efficiency of the tread above.

Attractive application of the wheels on the amphibious vehicle, where the machine feet thanks to the triangular his path properly will drive back the water and allow thus to abandon the special water propulsion. Would approach it and to wheelchairs to go as a flight of stairs and through the streets.

Currently, the Belorussian Polytechnic Institute are working to improve this design and create a prototype machine with walking wheels. Yet made a model. She playfully stomping on the floor and climbs steadily to a stack of books with a height of 20% greater than the height of the wheel axle. It seems just around the corner and a prototype machine.

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See other early Walking Wheels and  Walking Machines here.


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1983 – Beam Assembly Teleoperator (BAT) – University of Maryland (American)

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1983 M.I.T. Beam Assembly Teleoperator (BAT)

The SSL was founded in 1976 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Its early studies in space construction techniques eventually led to the EASE (Experimental Assembly of Structures in EVA) flight experiment which flew on Space Shuttle mission STS-61B in late 1985. EASE was designed to evaluate the ability of astronauts to build structures in space.

The success of EASE led to questions about how well robots could construct structures in space. The SSL’s first neutral buoyancy robot, the Beam Assembly Teleoperator (BAT), was built in 1983 specifically to construct the EASE structure. Over BAT’s lifetime, SSL personnel accumulated a large database comparing human and robot performance in space. BAT also demonstrated the ability of robots to assist astronauts during EVA excursions and to service and repair satellites.

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The Beam Assembly Teleoperator (BAT) was designed to assemble the same structure used by the Space Systems Laboratory for the Experimental Assembly of Structures in EVA (EASE) program. EASE involved two pressure-suited subjects repeatedly assembling a six-element tetrahedral truss, and included both neutral buoyancy simulation and a shuttle flight experiment flown on STS 61-B in late 1985. By choosing as a design case to assemble this same structure, direct comparisons could be made between EVA and the telerobotic assembly, as well as correlation to the flight experiment. This structure was designed to be challenging for EVA assembly; no major modifications in the structure were allowed for simplifying the task for robotic assembly. Thus, BAT was designed from the outset to be as capable as EVA for this one specific assembly task, and generically capable of a variety of other EVA tasks as well.

The basic design of BAT was based on a self-contained mobility base, with vision and manipulation systems attached. The mobility base contained the control electronics, on-board power supplies, and the other support systems, as well as eight electrically-powered ducted propellers for underwater motion. Careful attention has to be paid to simulation fidelity in the neutral buoyancy environment, and floatation panels and trim weights were attached to the base unit to adjust the centers of buoyancy and gravity to be coincident, such that the vehicle has no preferred orientation. In the current configuration, BAT is equipped with two pairs of stereo monochrome video cameras, one five degree of freedom dexterous general purpose manipulator, a non-articulated grappling arm for grasping the structure under assembly, and a specialized manipulator for performing the coarse alignment task for the long struts of the truss assembly. This combination of a flexible, generalized manipulator and “pick and place” specialized manipulator for selected tasks proved to be a useful approach to the design of a structural assembly telerobot.

Sourced from here and here.

“The Space Systems Laboratory (SSL) is dedicated to making human beings more productive while working in space. We believe that both humans and robots, working together, are necessary to accomplish this goal. We are currently developing robotic systems capable of assisting astronauts in EVA (spacewalk) tasks, thus making EVA excursions shorter and safer, and in some cases allowing astronauts to perform tasks that would otherwise be impossible. We also study the ways the human body works in space, quantify human abilities in orbit, and design tools and systems to help astronauts work in space.

The SSL was established in 1976 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology by MIT faculty members Renee Miller and J.W. Mar. Its early studies in space construction techniques eventually led to the EASE (Experimental Assembly of Structures in EVA) flight experiment which flew on Space Shuttle mission STS-61B in late 1985. EASE was designed to evaluate the ability of astronauts to build structures in space.

Other early SSL work with Richard Stallman and Marvin Minsky resulted in the Aramis study, an early influential paper on the use of automation in space exploration. In addition, the SSL developed the first neutral buoyancy version of a Manned Manuevering Unit, which allows astronauts to fly untethered around the Space Shuttle. NASA now uses SAFER, a similar device, to ensure the safety of astronauts during EVA excursions.

The Space Systems Lab was founded at MIT in 1976, by faculty members Renee Miller and J.W. Mar. Its early studies in space construction techniques led to the EASE (Experimental Assembly of Structures in EVA) flight experiment which flew on Space Shuttle mission STS-61-B in 1985.
In 1990, lab director Dr. Dave Akin moved the lab to the University of Maryland. The Neutral Buoyancy Research Facility, or NBRF, was completed in 1992. Current projects include the MX suits, simplified spacesuits for use in EVA research; Exo-SPHERES, a prototype satellite for inspection missions, and DYMAFLEX, a light-weight high performance manipulator developed for controls testing in a highly coupled dynamic environment.
The Space Systems Laboratory (SSL) is part of the Aerospace Engineering Department and A. James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland. A leader in the area of astronautics, the Space Systems Laboratory is centered around the Neutral Buoyancy Research Facility, a 50-foot diameter, 25-foot deep water tank that is used to simulate the microgravity environment of space. The only such facility housed at a university, Maryland’s neutral buoyancy tank is used for undergraduate and graduate research at the Space Systems Lab. Research in Space Systems emphasizes space robotics, human factors, applications of artificial intelligence and the underlying fundamentals of space simulation. There are currently many systems being tested, including Ranger, a four-armed satellite repair robot, and EUCLID, a 6 degree of freedom free-flying underwater camera platform.”


See other early Space Teleoperators here.

See other early Lunar and Space Robots here.


1983 – Household Robot with Floor sweeper and mop (Concept) – (Japanese)

1983 Household robot concept by a Japanese magazine. As well as the floor scrubber and mop, there are other cooking and serving functions as well.

(Source : ?)


See other early remote-controlled and robotic vacuum cleaners and floor scrubbers here.


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