Posts Tagged ‘British’

1820 – Prosopographus, the Automaton Artist – Charles Hervé

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Prosopographus

Selected extract from the full post by Patrick Feaster here.

Between 1820 and 1835, a machine was exhibited around Great Britain that was advertised as taking people’s portraits by strictly automatic means.  Someone had only to pay a shilling and sit perfectly still next to it for the space of a minute to obtain a likeness alleged to be more accurate than anything a living artist could have drawn.  The machine relied on principles very different from those of photography, first introduced to the world via the daguerreotype in 1839, and its portraits didn’t anticipate the photographic portraits of later years in any technical sense.  However, they did anticipate them quite closely in a cultural sense.  As far as subjects were concerned, they might have gone to get their pictures taken by this machine in 1825, and again by a photographic camera in 1845, without perceiving any fundamental difference between the two experiences.  In both cases, they would have been told that their likenesses were being captured automatically, without the mediation of a human observer, although they might still have paid extra for someone to touch up the results afterwards or add color to them.  The earlier machine went by the name of “Prosopographus, the Automaton Artist,” and it produced silhouettes—thousands upon thousands of them, if reports from the time are to be believed.  I was recently fortunate enough to acquire one, which is what prompted me to pull together the following account.

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In appearance, Prosopographus was a miniature android figure dressed in fancy Spanish costume, shown above as illustrated on a period handbill.  I’ll refer to it here myself as “it,” but contemporaries generally anthropomorphized it as “him,” consistent with the grammatical gender of its Greco-Latinate name: Prosopo- (“face”) -graph- (“writer”) –us (second declension nominative masculine ending).  It held a pencil in its hand, and when someone sat down next to it, it would use this pencil—within full view of spectators—to trace an outline of the person’s profile.  The process was described variously as taking less than a minute, half a minute, or less than half a minute, but subjects had to hold perfectly still during that time: “The least movement on the part of the sitter will occasion the Automaton to shake his head, and the operation of taking the outline to be recommenced.  Advertisements emphasized that this work was carried out “without even touching the Face, and indeed “without touching, or having the slightest communication with the Person.  Daylight wasn’t necessary either, patrons were assured, so that likenesses could continue to be taken after sunset.  The proprietor never revealed the specific process used to capture people’s profiles, but it was claimed to be wholly mechanical, and hence superhuman in its accuracy.  Thus, Prosopographus was billed as “performing more perfect resemblances than is in the power of any living hand to trace,  and as “so contrived that by means of mechanism it is enabled to trace a more accurate and pleasing resemblance of any face that may be presented than could be produced through the agency of any LIVING artist whatever.

The basic portrait to which every visitor was entitled by default seems to have consisted of the profile painted in black, and some later advertisements specified that this included glass and a frame.  For a surcharge, however, the profiles could also be cut out, shaded, bronzed, or done up in full color, as well as mounted in a fancier frame, at prices up to thirty guineas if anyone cared to pay that much. The result, in any case, was something visually indistinguishable from a conventional silhouette portrait of the period.

And that complicates our present ability to identify surviving specimens of Prosopographus’s work.  According to Profiles of the Past, a website dedicated to the history of British silhouette portraiture, “very few silhouettes [by Prosopographus] are known today,” even though countless thousands are said to have been taken.  Technically, however, what’s rare is a silhouette that can be attributed to Prosopographus because it’s labeled that way on the back.  The few reported types of Prosopographus trade label are linked to just a few exhibition venues, so it may be that silhouettes taken in other places weren’t labeled, making them impossible to tell apart from “ordinary” silhouettes.  For all we know, nearly all unlabeled silhouettes of the 1820s and 1830s might be the work of Prosopographus, which would make them extremely common.  However, it’s only when there’s a label that we know for sure what we have.

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The Prosopographus portrait I recently acquired is one of those with the Halifax trade label and promotional text on the back, augmented by a handwritten inscription identifying its subject as Ellen Waterhouse.  The silhouette itself is a likeness of the basic type that was thrown in free with the price of admission: the profile painted in black, with just a few embellishments added in the same color to represent hair and veil.


See the full post by Patrick Feaster here.


See other early Robots in Art and Drawing Machines here.


1981 – “Deep Rover” Submersible – Graham Hawkes (British/American)

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1981 – "Deep Rover" Submersible.

See 7:10 into the Video.

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Top: Dr. Sylvia Earle. Bottom: Graham Hawkes.

Extract from Popular Science, Dec 1984.

An acrylic-bubble undersea habitat called Deep Rover will take oceanographers and oil-rig technicians to depths of 3,200 feet, where they'll work at sea-level pressure—in near-living-room comfort. The vessel "flies" like an underwater helicopter and has a set of manipulators that can lift 200 pounds apiece—or cradle an egg.

Though Deep Rover is expected to find much of its work in offshore oil fields, it was a marine biologist, Dr. Sylvia Earle, the noted oceanographic curator of the California Academy of Sciences, who planted the idea in Hawkes's mind. Three years ago she challenged him with a question: "Why can't we dive in comfort to the bottom of the ocean?" Having logged more than 4,500 hours underwater, she had the right—indeed, the need—to know. Some time later Hawkes, Earle, and Phillip Nuytten (president of Can-Dive, a Canadian company that furnishes diving support for offshore oil fields) met for dinner in Seattle. Hawkes, responding to Earle's scientific and Nuytten's commercial inputs, produced an elegant napkin sketch of the plans for Deep Rover.


MANIPS by By PETER BRITTON, Popular Science, Dec 1984.

"Manips": the human connection
Graham Hawkes describes his work as "simplicity through complexity." Deep Rover's elegant manipulators reflect that philosophy. The official name for them is the Sensory Manipulative System. Hawkes calls them the "manips."
Their object is to extend the pilot's reach and use his unmatchable combination of intelligence, experience, depth perception; and eye-hand coordination. "We rely on the human brain rather than a computer to operate the system," says Hawkes. "If the pilot's hand is trembling, the manip will tremble in sympathy, down to about five cycles per second," he adds. The manipulators are of such dexterity and response that NASA is considering them, along with a Deep Rover-like vehicle, for excursions and work from the space shuttle.
Made of aluminum, stainless steel, and graphite-loaded nylon, the modular manipulators can vary in length from 5.6 to 7.5 feet and weigh up to 150 pounds. Each carries a light and a low-profile television camera.

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An analogy with the human arm and hand is useful in grasping the concept of degrees of freedom, and hence what the manipulators can do. An extended arm can (A) move up and down and (B) move from side to side. It can (C) bend at the elbow. The wrist can (D) move up and down, (E) move from side to side, and (F) rotate. And the hand can (G) open and close.
The complementary manipulator motions are activated through the handgrip by moving it backward and forward (resulting in action A), side to side (B), and by rotating it (C). A thumb switch on top is moved up and down (0) and side to side (E) to control the wrist. Two buttons rotate the wrist clockwise or counterclockwise (F), and a trigger opens and closes the "hand" (G).
The four-function "hands" each have two large jaws and two tips. When the serrated edges of the large jaws touch an object and close on it, the force is instantly transferred to the tips, which then also close. When a four-point contact is achieved, a steady grip
occurs.
The manips employ five elements of sense (some details of which are proprietary): sight, motion, force, sound, and touch. For the manips the tactile sense is the most important. But it is not touch as we know it.
Hawkes explains: "Robots generally are designed to recreate a sense of touch by sensing remotely in the manipulator and conveying that sense to the pilot through electrical readouts. But the readouts mean nothing by themselves and must be translated. What we do is translate the tactile sense into an audio signal and feed it to the pilot through his ears.
"We're using accelerometers, and we get a sense that is analogous to the sound that comes from scraping a brick with a fork. However, we pick up not sound but accelerations in the jaw tips—vibrations, if you like."
In operation, a pilot could probe below the mud line with the manips and correctly identify whatever material he "touched," be it plastic, metal, wood, or concrete, through the sound from the cockpit speakers. A trainee, according to Hawkes, can learn this new "language" in about two hours.
This function operates in real time, and Hawkes designed the manipulators to respond quickly—through a combination of electronics and hydraulics—so that the pilot can take full advantage of it. When the pilot commands a manip through the handgrip, he activates a motion switch built into the controller. An electrical signal goes from the controller to a power amplifier, which puts out an electrical signal that drives an actuator outside the hull. There is one actuator for every function on each manipulator.
The actuator converts the electric signal to hydraulic power through a gearbox and a lin-ear/rotary ball-bearing unit, which causes the displacement of a piston. This forces hydraulic fluid out of the actuator and into the manipulator, where a joint is moved—or a jaw is clenched. Withdrawal of the fluid causes a motion in the opposite direction.

Related Patents.

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Electromechanical manipulator assembly
Publication number    US5000649 A
Publication date    19 Mar 1991
Filing date    22 Aug 1986
Priority date    15 Feb 1983
Inventors    Graham S. Hawkes
Original Assignee    Deep Ocean Engineering Incorporated

Description

This is a continuation of application Ser. No. 466,606, filed Feb. 15, 1983, now U.S. Pat. No. 4,607,798.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates, in general, to remotely-operated, manipulative devices and relates, more particularly, to underwater or sub-sea, remotely-controlled, powered manipulator arms.

In recent years the use of manned and unmanned underwater apparatus to explore and develop natural resources has increased dramatically. In the petroleum industry, for example, off-shore drilling has required both manned apparatus (submersibles) and unmanned underwater apparatus (robotic devices) which are capable of performing a wide variety of manipulative tasks. Typically such apparatus includes one or more remotely operated, powered arms which have a terminal device, such as claws, pincers or jaws, which are analogous to a human hand. The manipulator arms are usually jointed or have several axes of movement and may be controlled in a preprogrammed manner or by a remotely-operated input device. Such manipulator assemblies are exposed to very adverse environmental conditions, particularly when operated in bodies of salt water at substantial depths, which is the normal operating environment for most off-shore oil exploration and recovery equipment.

Prior underwater, electromechanical manipulator apparatus have typically employed a D.C. motor coupled to a hydraulic pump as the primary power for actuation or moving of the arm assemblies. The hydraulic pumps are coupled to a hydraulic circuit employing solenoid valves to control displacement of the manipulator arms and operation of the claws or jaws on the end of the arms.

If these prior art solenoid-based manipulator systems are relatively simple, the operating characteristics have been found to be poor. The smoothness and dexterity of movement with Which the arm and claws can be manipulated are not satisfactory for many applications. In order to attempt to have a smoothly operating solenoid valve- based system, the valving and pump controls can be made very complex, but the resulting complexity substantially increases cost and the incidence of breakdown.

Another prior art approach to underwater manipulative assemblies is to employ a D.C. motor-feedback servo amplifier system in which the motor directly drives the mechanical elements in the arm. Such a direct coupling of the D.C. motor to the mechanical manipulator elements has been found to require extremely close tolerances with attendant undesirable cost. Moreover, there are substantial shock loading problems in the gearboxes of such systems.

A remotely operated, underwater manipulator assembly should be capable of smooth motion over a wide speed range. Thus it should be able to move uniformly and smoothly at low speeds for precise work and smoothly at high speeds for rapid arm positioning. Underwater manipulator assemblies also should be able to exert a variable force at any of the speeds in its range of operating speeds. Moreover, a remotely operated underwater manipulator arm or assembly should have the capability of simultaneous and cooperative motion in two or more directions to give full freedom of movement of the terminal device or gripping jaws. The combination of smooth functioning over a wide speed range, variable force throughout the range, and multidirectional movement provides an underwater manipulator arm assembly which begins to closely approximate the motion and dexterity of a human arm and hand.

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Additional related patents:

Publication number    US4471207 A
Apparatus and method for providing useful audio feedback to operators of remotely controlled manipulators

Publication number    US4655673 A
Apparatus and method for providing useful tactile feedback to operators of remotely controlled manipulators

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See other early Underwater Robots here.


1979 – OMAS SPIDER Atmospheric Diving Suit – Graham Hawkes (British)

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1979 –  OMAS SPIDER Atmospheric Diving Suit.

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Underwater World – 1978, Volumes 1-2 – Page 43
A new atmospheric diving suit called OMAS has recently been developed by Vickers Slingsby, and two of these are already in use by the Aberdeen-based diving and underwater engineering company, Wharton-Williams. Nicknamed 'Spider' by Wharton-Williams, this is the fifth A.D.S. to have been developed, the others being Oceaneering's 'JIM' and 'Sam', and OSEL's 'Wasp' and 'Mantis'.
OMAS (alias 'Spider') is guilt of glass reinforced plastic (GRP) and operates to a depth of around 600m. Handling problems sink hopes of Lloyd's certification for Omas, the Vickers-Slingsby one-man diving submersible OMAS,


Plastics and Rubber International – 1979, Volumes 4-6 – Page 7
OMAS (One Man Atmosphere Submersible) is the latest underwater development from Vickers-Slingsby. Constructed from BP Chemicals Cellobond A2785 CV glass reinforced polyester resin (GRP), the 2.2 metre long OMAS is tethered during operations to a mother-ship via an umbilical cord through which power is supplied. OMAS is shaped like a rigid space suit.


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01/01/2001. Source: here.
The Spider, owned by Silvercrest Submarines, has emerged after many years of dormancy. The Spider, built in the 1970s, has unique features not in use on other suits, including hydraulically operated manipulators and vectored thrusters that allow some lateral movement. The Spider is rated to a water depth of 610 meters. Alan Whitfield of Silvercrest Submarines, current owner of the two working Spiders said "the units are presently in Hawaii, in support of a scientific research program. The water depth in the area is 1,500 ft. In November 2000, it is expected that both suits will move to a facility on the US mainland for a maintenance program. After that time, the two units will be available for charter." It remains to be seen if the Spider will effectively compete in the ADS industry.  

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Interior view showing the divers seat and some of the controls. A view of the divers depth gauges etc. Scrubber units can be seen in the base of the vehicle and the auto pilot can be seen near the diver's head position.

The SPIDER had hydraulically operated manipulators. An adjustable pressure relief valve permitted varying the grip pressure.

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One Man 1 Atmosphere Submersible, also known as OMAS SPIDER.

Source: here.

The Spider 'Atmospheric' Diving Suit was produced in the 1970s for exploration and maintenance work in the North Sea. The Spider had a depth rating of 2000 feet and was used in many deep operations mainly from drilling rigs. It had an eclectically insulated GRP body and a Plexiglas hemispherical dome. The diver could operate articulated arms with powered claws capable of various tasks. Six variable direction motors and thrusters provide propulsion . For static operations there are suction pads for gripping smooth surfaces.

Atmospheric Diving Suits normally work in pairs for safety reasons to help release the trapped vehicle should this occur. This also enables round the clock operations.
The Spider was easily moveable and could be deployed very quickly. Apart from work in the Petrochemical industry it could be used for salvage and rescue work. The diver in the vehicle breathes normal air so could work for long periods sometimes eight hours a day without costly saturation diving systems. It was used until 1982 when it was replaced by the Draeger-Newt suit suit, designed by Dr Phil Nuytten from Canada.

Technical specification:
Height:     2,2 Metres
Width:     1.5 Metres
Displacement:     1200kgs
Depth rating:     610 Metres
Propulsion:     6 x 1 hp motors
Umbilical:     12 Tonne breaking strain
TV System:     Low light/colour /real time recording
Emergency power:     24 V 8 Ah for emergency communications

The Spider was completely self contained with power packs and oxygen supply on board giving up to 72 hours of emergency life support systems.

Spider-x640 The SPIDER (Self-Propelled Inspection Submarines DivER) was developed in the 1970's, in answer to the WASP. The basic design was very similar to the WASP, in that it had segmented ball and socket arm joints, a hemispherical pressure vessel for the legs and a 360° viewing dome (Wharton, 1979). One of the SPIDER's unique features were the two hydraulically operated suction pads, 'sticky feet', located in the equipment package that were intended to allow the SPIDER to attach itself to any relatively smooth surface, that is if you can find one in the barnacle encrusted sea. Additionally, rather than the 'standard' mechanical advantage manipulators found on other atmospheric diving suits, the SPIDER had hydraulically operated manipulators. An adjustable pressure relief valve permitted varying the grip pressure. Like the WASP, the SPIDER also has variable ballast control. Two SPIDERs, owned by Silvercrest Submarines, are currently operating in Hawaii in support of a scientific research program.

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Stamp showing the SPIDER.


See other early Underwater Robots here.


1978 – WASP Atmospheric Diving Suit – Graham Hawkes (British)

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WASP – A mid-water unit using thrusters and a tubular lower body section rather than articulated legs.

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Wasp, built by OSEL, Offshore Submersibles Ltd., U.K. The Wasp may be regarded as the next development step in that it maneuvers by the use of four hull-mounted thrusters. Essentially it is a one-atmosphere, armoured diving suit without legs. The Wasp has a depth capability of 610 m and has been used for drilling support since 1978.

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Graham Hawkes inside a WASP suit.

See Wasp 1:24 into clip.

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The Manipulator/Limbs are aluminium construction, fully articulated, fluid-supported flexible arms with direct acting manipulators.

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Models of WASP.

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WASP – The WASP is a new-comer to the ADS Service line and essentially comprises a standard ADS upper body and vision dome system with tubular lower body. The unit is fitted with rotatable thrusters and "flys" in a manner similar to the most maneuverable of the current crop of small manned submersibles. The unit is fitted with the type 3 SAM arms and manipulators. Since WASP in not as widely known as "JIM", it may be appropriate to discuss the design and working concept in some detail.
The WASP unit nay be viewed as a hybrid between a very small submersible and the standard ADS articulated system. WASP is designed to work at depths up to 2,000 feet and receives power for its thrusters through a small diameter surface umbilical. A unique feature is the on-board battery system which acts as a buffer to allow spurts of full power that the umbilical would not be capable of supplying. In addition, the battery system acts as a safety device in that it provides for self-contained operation for nearly one hour, should the umbilical be severed. The umbilical can be detached from inside the WASP and the operator can surface using thruster power, or make a buoyant ascent by jettisoning ballast.
The WASP unit can alter buoyancy and altitude and is able to assume virtually any position by use of the rotating thruster. Since the operator has his arms occupied during work tasks, the unit is designed to be controlled by foot pedal motions similar to those used in driving a motor vehicle. WASP was designed by Graham Hawkes, an engineer who worked extensively with the JIM systems.

Note: The article was written by Phil Nuytten, co-founder of Oceaneering International. Nuytten later left Oceaneering and set up another company to build the HARDSUIT and EXOSUITs.

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Oceaneering's Wasp was originally designed by Graham Hawkes and built by Osel Ltd in the mid-1970s. Currently, there are seven Wasp 2As in service, and two under development, to be known as the WASP 3.


See other early Underwater Robots here.


1978 – “Mantis” Submersible – Graham Hawkes (British)

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1978 – "Mantis" Submersible.

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Sylvia Earle and Graham Hawkes.

Mantis, built by OSEL, U.K., designed by Graham Hawkes is the latest [c1978] development in the tethered submarine field. It is fitted with eight or ten electric thrusters and has two seawater hydraulically operated manipulators. The Mantis was built in 1978 and has been used for rig inspection and debri clearance operations.

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See other early Underwater Robots here.