Posts Tagged ‘General Mills’

1958 – RUM – Remote Underwater Manipulator – Victor Anderson (American)

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RUM – Remote Underwater Manipulator

Press Release: U.S. Navy reveals new remote control vehicle for exploring ocean bottom.: A unique remote control undersea vehicle for exploring and conducting scientific studies of the ocean bottom for prolonged periods at great depths has been developed for the Office of Naval Research. The new vehicle was demonstrated for the Press off the shore of La Jolla, California, May 16. 1960. The vehicle is essentially a tank equipped with a long jointed manipulator arm and hand together with specially devised underwater television cameras which serve as the eyes of the vehicle's operator on shore. The development of the Remote Underwater Manipulator was directed by Dr. Victor Anderson of the Marine Physical laboratory of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography of the University of California at La Jolla for use in co-operation with the Hudson Laboratory of Columbia University. The goal of the Navy R.U.M. developments is to have available a vehicle capable of performing controlled work functions is oceanographic research. This includes observation of the sea floor, the collection of samples and specimens and the assembly and installation of deep bottom-mounted instrumentation in the ocean. R.U.M. (Remote Underwater Manipulator) can operate at depths down to 20,000 feet, maintained a speed of 3 miles per hour where level bottom soil conditions permit. It can manoeuvre and operate on grades of 60 percent and is capable of climbing a vertical obstacle 12 inches in height. It is seen here returning from ocean floor during tests.


Source: SIO Reference 60-26
MPL EXPERIMENTAL RUM
Victor C. Anderson, University of California, La Jolla Marine Physical Laboratory of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography San Diego 52, California
Abstract
An experimental Remote Underwater Manipulator constructed at the Marine Physical Laboratory is described. Features of the design which permit operation at deep submergence in the ocean over 5 miles of small coaxial cable are discussed. Pertinent electronic circuits are shown and their general operation outlined.
Introduction
In November of 1958 the Marine Physical Laboratory undertook the construction of an experimental Remote Underwater Manipulator (RUM) as a part of a task, under Contract Nonr 2216 with the Office of Naval Research. It was felt that by the adoption of a suitable design philosophy such a device, capable of operating at great depths, could be built utilizing, to a large extent, standard commercial components. Operating from a fixed installation over a length of several miles of control cable, the RUM would permit a significant increase in underwater installation work capability and a reduction of the required complexity of bottom-mounted oceanographic instrumentation.
The first tests of the MPL RUM were carried out in the San Diego Bay in May of 1959. The first ocean test was made on 5 May 1960.
This initial report covers the RUM design and construction in a manner which will outline the problems arising during its construction and describe their solution as well as present the philosophy followed in the design.

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The manipulator for the MPL RUM was obtained from General Mills as a complete assembly ready for installation in the rear compartment. As may be seen in Figure 20 it consists of a model 500 manipulator arm mounted on the end of an articulating boom which has three degrees of freedom: base rotation, lower boom elevation and elbow elevation between lower and upper boom. The manipulator itself has the standard set of 5 motions: shoulder rotation, shoulder pivot, elbow pivot, wrist rotate and hand grip. These functions, combined with power on-off, fast-slow and forward-reverse control, require 18 of the off-on control channels. The manipulator capabilities are as follows:
Gross lifting capability with hook . . .     1500 lbs at 10 ft
Maximum outreach . . .                        15 ft
Manipulator lifting capability . . .            500 lbs
Wrist torque . . .                                  100 ft -lbs
Hand closing force . . .                         100 lbs
The manipulator arm itself is powered by dc motors while the boom operates from a hydraulic system position servo-coupled to dc control motors.
Hull Construction
The MPL RUM has been built on the basic hull and track assembly of an M-50 self-propelled rifle or "Ontos," provided for this purpose. The Ontos was stripped and reworked to provide four compartments as shown in Figure 9 above.

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Interesting in the above artist's conception is the adaption of a helicopter device to allow RUM to swim over rough spots.

Source: Popular Mechanics, December 1960.

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Underwater robot to explore ocean floor
Console has controls and four TV screens.
Control van is linked to RUM by cable.

The Navy has added a robot hand, sonar, and four television cameras to a rebuilt Marine tank. RUM—for Remote Underwater Manipulator—is a sort of poor man's Solaris [PS, July]. Cost of the project: $250,000. The interior of the tank has been sealed against water and filled with oil in which two 71/2-hp. electric motors run immersed: one to move each of the two tracks.
The vehicle is linked to a mobile van on shore by a coaxial cable long enough to permit operation five miles out and 20,000 feet under the sea. The cable carries power to the motors, TV cameras, mercury-vapor lamps that light the deeps for the cameras, telemetering channels, and a mechanical hand that can pick up objects ranging from a piece of kelp to a forecastle section.
Designs exist for a similar vehicle of aluminum. Future RUMs would weigh several thousand pounds less, says the Navy, and would be more reliable. Source: Popular Science, Aug, 1960.

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The Remote Underwater Manipulator (RUM) was first intended to work alone, crawling about on the sea floor at depths down to 6,000 meters to gather objects and samples, to take photographs, and to install deep-sea instruments. Victor C. Anderson began assembling it in 1958, starting with a Marine Corps self-propelled rifle carrier; to this he added a boom and a steel claw that could be pivoted in any direction out to about five meters to pick up objects. The gasoline engine was replaced with a pair of heavy electric motors in an oil-filled compartment. Sonar was installed, and a powerful light and four television cameras for sea-floor surveillance from a portable shore station (actually a bus). Power for RUM and sensor signals were provided by way of a coaxial cable 8,000 meters long. Early tests in shallow water were only moderately successful, and RUM was set aside for other projects. Source: here.

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Selection of 15 images of RUM from University of Southern California. Libraries.

Title:     Remote underwater manipulation test (United States Navy), 1960-05-16.
Description:   Remote underwater manipulation test (United States Navy). May 16 1960. Howard Humphrey; Howard McQueen; Doctor Victor Anderson (project director); Bill Clay.; Caption slip reads: "Photographer: Snow. Date: 1960-05-16. Reporter: Henley. Assignment: RUM. Series of pictures of RUM going out to sea until it is completely submerged. Arm of RUM in sand after it broke down. Howard Humphrey and Howard McQueen, with hat, putting on arm in control van. Dr. Victor Anderson, project director; Bill Clay, closest to camera. Dr. Victor Anderson standing beside RUM on beach".
Photographer:     Snow

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Selected images of RUM from Time-Life Collection. Photographer is Ralph Crane. 1960.

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Dr. Victor Anderson.

A view of the Navy's remote underwater m

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RUM II

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ORB and RUM are a pair of MPL vehicles that often work as a team. By December 1967, ORB (Ocean Research Buoy) had been developed as a platform for suspending equipment and particularly as a service vehicle for RUM. ORB is a barge 45 feet by 65 feet with a large center well through which the ten-ton RUM is operated by means of a constant-tension winch. It has two laboratories, a galley and messhall, and sleeping quarters for twelve people. “Loading RUM is a somewhat unconventional operation,” its designers wrote. “RUM is first lowered to the bottom of the bay by a crane. Then ORB is moved to a position over RUM, divers attach the strain cable, and RUM is lifted up through the well doors.” Unconventional or not, it does work. RUM has been used for taking cores at depths down to 1,900 meters, for measurements of sediment properties in place, for underwater photography, for recovering equipment at depths down to 1,260 meters, and for sampling deep-sea biological communities. It has the advantage of being able to stay on the sea floor at work much longer than manned submersibles. On one of its earliest sea trials, in 1970, RUM placed two small sonar reflectors on the sea floor, crawled away from them, and returned to find and retrieve them. It also found a third sea-floor object:  … a can of a well-known brand of stewed tomatoes. … The can was found to be the dwelling of a small and very frightened octopus. We feel [said RUM’s inventors] that this is one of the first times that a mobile biological specimen has been selectively retrieved by a remotely controlled manipulator as well as record of the first sea-going anti-pollution effort by such a unit.

See 25:55 into clip.

Anderson also developed the Benthic Laboratory, first used as a communications center for Sealab II in 1965. The laboratory housed electronic equipment. Source: here.

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RUM (Remote Underwater Manipulator) – This series of seafloor work vehicles included RUM II, a remotely controlled, tracked vehicle which was developed under the sponsorship of the Office of Naval Research at the Marine Physical Laboratory for use as a research tool in sea floor technology experiments, and to establish design criteria for future sea floor technology systems. RUM III, which combines seafloor search and work capabilities, is in the development phase.
RUM II provided detailed information on vehicle trafficability, remote manipulation, navigation, cable telemetry systems, effect of ambient pressure on electronics, and environmental and mechanical design considerations. Design depth for the vehicle is 2,400 meters. Extensive operations have been carried out in a variety of locations of diverse bottom characteristics within 120 km radius from San Diego. Depth of operations has ranged from 30 to 1800 meters. Operational tasks carried out on the sea floor have included search and recovery, implantment of instruments, biological studies, vehicle trafficability studies, navigation exercises, collection of samples, and the measurement of the engineering properties of sea floor sediments. During operations, RUM was launched through the well on ORB and lowered to the sea floor. A pair of divers were used in the launch and recovery of the vehicle to connect and disconnect snubbing cables. Electrical power, telemetry for control and instrumentation, and signals for sonar, navigation aids and television were transmitted over the single coaxial umbilical cable connecting the RUM to ORB.
The vehicle was propelled by two independently controlled reversible 15.6 KW direct current motors, one driving each track. Other equipment included three television cameras, ten 500-watt quartz iodide lights, two 600-watt mercury vapor lights, color movie and still cameras, an obstacle avoidance scanning sonar with a 25-meter range, a high resolution search sonar with a 200-meter range, up- and down-looking depth sounders, a magnetic compass, listening hydrophones, acoustic transponder navigation system and a manipulator capable of exerting 22 kg of force in any direction.

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ORB (Oceanographic Research Buoy) – ORB, a 21 x 14 meter rectangular shaped vessel displacing approximately 330 tons, was developed by the Marine Physical Laboratory to serve projects at the laboratory which require the launch, retrieval, implantation or handling of large equipment or systems in the open ocean. In contrast to FLIP, ORB is designed to follow the sea surface as closely as possible, in order to simplify the task of placing and retrieving large objects in the ocean. The vessel has a center well of 9- by 6-meter area which can be opened to permit the lowering of equipment through it, using a cable-tensioning system to minimize vertical motions. The well doors when closed provide a dry work space and will safely support a weight of 12,000 kg. Loads up to 12 tons can be lowered to a maximum depth of 2,000 meters. ORB is 8 meters high from keel to upper deck. It has no means of self propulsion and must be towed to and from operating areas. In addition to laboratory work spaces and machinery space, ORB is equipped with complete living facilities for 20 people including five crew members.
ORB, during her first ten years of operation in support of over a dozen different projects, has been moored at over 20 sites ranging up to 400 km off the southern California coast and at depths from 30 to over 4,000 meters.


There is a RUM III but I have no image of it.


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CABLE WINDING MECHANISM
Publication number    US3168261
Publication date    2 Feb 1965
Filing date    29 Mar 1963
Inventor:    William H. Hainer
Original Assignee    General Mills Inc

This invention relates to a cable winding mechanism, and more particularly to an apparatus for use on a remotely controlled vehicle, such as an underwater reconnaissance vehicle, to automatically reel in or pay out a control or power cable for the vehicle as it travels a course.

It is a general object of the present invention to provide such a cable winding mechanism which is relatively simple and compact, which performs reliably, which, when reeling cable in, properly winds the cable in even multiple layers upon a spool or drum, and, when paying out cable, properly dispenses the cable from said drum, and which, in reeling in and paying out cable, does so independently of the travel of the vehicle, by making the winding action of the drum responsive to tension on the cable.

In conjunction with this above-mentioned object is the further object of providing such a cable winding mechanism especially adapted for use in a remotely controlled underwater reconnaissance vehicle that is designed to travel over rough terrain of the ocean floor at relatively great depths (i.e. 500 feet or more) and be able to follow a relatively complex course over such terrain.

It is believed a clearer understanding of the apparatus to which the present invention relates, and of the problems which the invention purports to alleviate will be obtained by first describing briefly an underwater vehicle of the type for which the present invention is especially adapted and the problems in its operation.

Such a vehicle has a chassis which rests on a pair of tracks by which the vehicle is able to propel itself along the ocean floor. Pivotally connected to the chassis are a set of upstanding struts the upper ends :of which are pivotally connected to a set of tanks which impart a lifting or buoying force to the vehicle. By properly moving these tanks by means of the supporting struts, the vehicles center of buoyancy is placed over its center of gravity, and the entire vehicle is better able to be stabilized [on its tracks so that it can travel over steeply sloped surfaces. Also, both the chassis and the tanks are provided with propellers to power the vehicle above the ocean floor, submarine fashion, in the event that it is desired to pass over a crevasse or other obstacle.

The vehicle is both controlled and powered electrically, this being accomplished by an electric cable leading from the vehicle to a suitable power and control source, such as a surface ship or possibly a shore station. While the vehicle, during a reconnaissance mission, may be following a maze-like course over the ocean floor, the cable will sometimes slide sideways over the ocean floor or become snagged on obstructions or vegetation. Since the cable has a total length of perhaps five miles, it may become strung out over the ocean floor along a rather unpredictable and complex path, quite different from that which the vehicle has travelled. Thus, there arise particular problems in reeling in the cable under these conditions, among such problems being that of guarding against the vehicle itself cutting across and severing the cable. it is for effective operations under conditions such as these that my invention purports to provide a practical cable winding apparatus.


The General Mills Model 150 Manipulator Arm

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The General Mills' Model 150 Manipulator. See also General Mills technology described here.

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Harold "Bud" Froehlich

The dream of building a manned deep ocean research submersible first started to move toward reality on February 29, 1956. Allyn Vine of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) attended a symposium in Washington, where participants drafted a resolution that the U.S. develop a national program for manned undersea vehicles. From this beginning the community eventually obtained the Trieste bathyscaphe, but it was quite large and not very maneuverable – a better craft was needed.

In 1960, Charles Momsen, head of the Office of Naval Research (ONR), petitioned for scientists to rent a submersible with ONR funds, and found WHOI investigators interested. In the spring of 1962, after unsuccessful negotiations with various submersible builders to rent a sub, Vine and others at Woods Hole went and requested bids to buy a small submersible based on drawings made by Bud Froehlich for a vehicle he called the Seapup. General Mills won the bid for $472,517 for an unnamed 6,000-foot submersible. Source: here.


See other early Underwater Robots here.


1971 – Trieste II Submersible – (American)

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1971 – Trieste II Submersible with Manipulator Arm.

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DSV-1 Trieste II

When the submarine Thresher was lost on 10 April 1963, a committee established under Admiral Stephan [the Oceanographer of the Navy] to assess the implications of the accident concluded that the Navy did not have the operational assets to conduct missions in the deep sea. The loss of the Thresher was a wake up call for the Navy. A summary of the Thresher search operation in 1965 highlighting the Navy's inadequacy in deep-sea search, location, and rescue noted that the tragedy "demonstrated only too clearly the degree of ignorance and inability which surrounded the entire business."

To rectify this deficiency the Deep Submergence Systems Project, initially assigned to the Special Projects Office responsible for developing the Polaris Fleet Ballistic Missile System, was established to develop deep ocean capabilities. Subsequently other associated development programs were assigned to the Deep Submergence Systems Project office, including the development of the NR-1 nuclear powered research submarine. The intelligence community also established Deep Submergence development requirements.

A decision was made to build a second bathyscaphe, Trieste II, with the original Trieste assigned to the Deep Submergence Systems Project to test equipment that would be employed on other deep submergence systems. The new Trieste II, built at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard in September 1965, was a more sophisticated craft capable of clandestine operations in the deep ocean. DSV-1 Trieste II was designed by the Naval Electronic Laboratory, San Diego, CA, as a successor to Trieste -the Navy's pioneer bathyscaph. Trieste II incorporated the Terni, Italian-built sphere used in Trieste with an entirely new bathyscaph float-one more seaworthy and streamlined. Controlled from the pressure-resistant sphere on the underside, Trieste II was equipped with cameras, sonars, and sensors for scientific observation at great depths. Her instrumentation could be varied to suit the mission in hand. Completed in early 1964, conducted dives in the vicinity of the loss site of Thresher – operations commenced by the first Trieste the year before. She recovered bits of wreckage, positively fixing the remains as that of the lost Thresher, in September 1964.

Subsequently shipped back to San Diego, Trieste II underwent a series of modifications until April 1965, when she was launched on 19 April to undertake the first of many dives as test and training vehicle for the Navy's new deep submergence program. After a series of dives off San Diego, Trieste II underwent further modifications at Mare Island to improve the craft's undersea navigation, control, and small object recovery. When the Scorpion was lost on 22 May 1968, the previously unacknowledged Trieste II was used by the Navy to carry out the investigation.

This unique craft was listed only as "equipment" in the Navy inventory until the autumn of 1969. On 1 September 1969, Trieste II was placed in service, with the hull number X-l. Reclassified as a deep submergence vehicle (DSV) on 1 June 1971, Trieste II (DSV-1) continued her active service in the Pacific Fleet into 1980, and in May 1984 she was assigned to Submarine Development Group 1. She was moved to the Keyport Naval Undersea Warfare Center in 1985. Trieste II made dives as deep as 20,000 feet.

Source: here.

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Excerpt by Don Walsh.
Navy Electronics Laboratory (NEL) in San Diego.
Trieste was retired in 1963 at the age of ten, after it had returned to NEL from working at the site where Thresher (SSN-598) had been lost. At least two other versions of Trieste, all named "Trieste II", served with the Navy until 1982. With the retirement of Trieste II the world’s last bathyscaph was gone, since Archimede had been retired in the late 1970s

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See 4:23 into clip.

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Artists illustration showing another manipulator arm. This arm was commissioned when Trieste II was in DSV-1 guise [Deep Submergence Vehicle-1].

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As well as the manipulator arm, Trieste II had a Grapple Hook mounted up front on the bow.

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See Trieste [I] here.

See other early Underwater Robots here.


1961 – Trieste Submersible with Manipulator – Harold Froehlich (American)

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1961 – Trieste Submersible with Manipulator Arm by Harold Froehlich – General Mills. Image source: Manned Submersibles, Frank Bushby, 1976. The Trieste was purchased by the U.S. Navy in 1958. Development of the manipulator arm, instigated by Don Walsh, was done by Harold "Bud" Froehlich of General Mills. Based on the Model 150 arm, it was finally commissioned in 1961.

In 1963, Trieste was used to locate The USS Thresher which tragically broke up and sunk in deep waters earlier the same year. Top image from Popular Science, Feb 1964.

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UNDERWATER MANIPULATORS
© 1966 American Society of Naval Engineers
Naval Engineers Journal
Volume 78, Issue 6,  pages 1003–1009, December 1966

When Walsh and Piccard rode Trieste 35,800 ft. to the bottom of Challenger Deep in 1960, they proved that man could have access to any part of an unexplored area equal to 3/4 of the earth's surface. A dream cherished by man since Alexander the Great had become reality. But, as important as was the achievement of gaining access to the vast bottom of the sea, it was but a step in the conquest of the depths. To truly conquer this new frontier, man must be able not only to go there, but to travel over large areas and do useful work there. To provide a capability for doing mechanical work, a number of underwater vehicles have been equipped with mechanical manipulators, and more are planned or in progress.
TRIESTE
The first manipulator fitted to a manned deep submersible was the General Mills Model 150 manipulator purchased by the Navy for use on the original Trieste in 1961.
To provide a manipulator for scientific sampling and for performing other tasks at the bottom, the Navy turned to industry to draw on the knowledge accumulated over the previous two decades of nuclear hot-cell-manipulator-development.
The fully developed and proven General Mills 150 was modified for underwater use. With six motions and a capacity of 50 lb. at an outreach of about 30 in., the d-c electric-motor-driven Model 150 offered an attractive addition to the capabilities of Trieste. A mounting was provided, pivoted to the forward ballast shot tub, and equipped with a hoist which could lower the manipulator into operating position before the pilots view port and retract it out of the way when not in use.  The shot tub was suspended from a magnetic release device and could be released from inside the pressure sphere.
This safety feature proved the undoing of the first manipulator. The release was inadvertently tripped shortly after installation, and the manipulator was lost before extensive data could be obtained. A second Model 150 manipulator procured for Trieste retained the aluminum-magnesium structural material used in the hot-cell version. Because of the size and nature of Trieste, it remained in the water for relatively long periods of time, making the manipulator inaccessible for maintenance. Long immersion led to corrosion of the fastenings and castings. Corrosion developed at any point where the surface got scraped, and developed around fastenings as a result of gradual soaking of seawater through the paint film. (more but not available at time of publishing)

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The General Mills Model 150 Manipulator Arm

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The General Mills' Model 150 Manipulator. See also General Mills technology described here.

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Harold "Bud" Froehlich

The dream of building a manned deep ocean research submersible first started to move toward reality on February 29, 1956. Allyn Vine of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) attended a symposium in Washington, where participants drafted a resolution that the U.S. develop a national program for manned undersea vehicles. From this beginning the community eventually obtained the Trieste bathyscaphe, but it was quite large and not very maneuverable – a better craft was needed.

In 1960, Charles Momsen, head of the Office of Naval Research (ONR), petitioned for scientists to rent a submersible with ONR funds, and found WHOI investigators interested. In the spring of 1962, after unsuccessful negotiations with various submersible builders to rent a sub, Vine and others at Woods Hole went and requested bids to buy a small submersible based on drawings made by Bud Froehlich for a vehicle he called the Seapup. General Mills won the bid for $472,517 for an unnamed 6,000-foot submersible. Source: here.


BRIEF TRIESTE HISTORY

Trieste consisted of a float chamber filled with gasoline (petrol) for buoyancy, with a separate pressure sphere to hold the crew. This configuration (dubbed a bathyscaphe by the Piccards), allowed for a free dive, rather than the previous bathysphere designs in which a sphere was lowered to depth and raised again to the surface by a cable attached to a ship.

Trieste was designed by the Swiss scientist Auguste Piccard and originally built in Italy. His pressure sphere, composed of two sections, was built by the company Acciaierie Terni. The upper part was manufactured by the company Cantieri Riuniti dell'Adriatico, in the Free Territory of Trieste (on the border between Italy and Yugoslavia); hence the name chosen for the bathyscaphe. The installation of the pressure sphere was done in the Cantiere navale di Castellammare di Stabia, near Naples. Trieste was launched on 26 August 1953 into the Mediterranean Sea. The design was based on previous experience with the bathyscaphe FNRS-2. Trieste was operated by the French Navy. After several years of operation in the Mediterranean Sea, the Trieste was purchased by the United States Navy in 1958.

The Navy bought the Trieste from the men who had built it in 1953, Auguste Piccard and his son Jacques, for $250,000. It was actually the second Trieste; the original 1948 model hadn't held up well. Source: Wikipedia.


See other early Underwater Robots here.


1961-4 – Alvin Submersible – Harold Froehlich (American)

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1964 – Alvin Submersible by Harold Froehlich – General Mills/Litton Systems. Image source: Manned Submersibles, Frank Bushby, Pub. 1976.

In-depth innovation.

The first submarine to explore the deep-sea wreckage of the Titanic was designed and built by General Mills.

The “Alvin” submarine – named for famous oceanographer Allyn Vine – became the world’s premiere deep-diving research vessel when it was deployed by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in 1964.

The 23-foot sub has been a workhorse – and is still making history after more than 45 years.

Since 1964, Alvin has:

  • Traveled nearly 3 miles deep (4,500 meters)
  •  Carried 2,500 researchers
  •  Completed more than 4,400 dives

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Mission Highlights

1966 – dove 2,500 feet in the Mediterranean Sea to recover a hydrogen bomb lost in a mid-air plane collision.
1977 – discovered previously unknown life forms around heat vents off the Galapagos Islands.
1986 – explored for the first time the wreckage of the Titanic ocean liner that sank on its maiden voyage in 1912.

The patent's for Froehlich's original Seapup of which Alvin was based on.

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Underseas vehicle
Publication number    US3104641 A
Publication type    Grant
Publication date    24 Sep 1963
Filing date    29 Aug 1961
Priority date    29 Aug 1961
Inventors    Harold E Froehlich
Original Assignee    General Mills Inc

At the front of the pod 54 is a mechanical manipulator 63. Manipulator 63 is mounted on the pod 64 and is controlled from within the pressure chamber by controls which are not shown. The manipulator 63 may be a manipulator such as the General Mills' Model 150 Manipulator which is manufactured by General Mills, Incorporated. The manipulator is composed of several linkages 64 with a grasping type member 66 at the end of the linkage 64 used for maneuvering and grasping which are encountered.

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See also US3158123

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The General Mills' Model 150 Manipulator. See also General Mills technology described here.

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Diagram showing the operator / arm positioning.

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Harold "Bud" Froehlich

The dream of building a manned deep ocean research submersible first started to move toward reality on February 29, 1956. Allyn Vine of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) attended a symposium in Washington, where participants drafted a resolution that the U.S. develop a national program for manned undersea vehicles. From this beginning the community eventually obtained the Trieste bathyscaphe, but it was quite large and not very maneuverable – a better craft was needed.

In 1960, Charles Momsen, head of the Office of Naval Research (ONR), petitioned for scientists to rent a submersible with ONR funds, and found WHOI investigators interested. In the spring of 1962, after unsuccessful negotiations with various submersible builders to rent a sub, Vine and others at Woods Hole went and requested bids to buy a small submersible based on drawings made by Bud Froehlich for a vehicle he called the Seapup. General Mills won the bid for $472,517 for an unnamed 6,000-foot submersible.

The firm of Hahn & Clay, under the direction of Larry Megow, fabricated three 6-foot diameter HY-100 steel spheres for General Mills in December 1962, and cut the window holes in the spring of 1963. Spheres 2 and 3 were later used for the Navy’s Sea Cliff and Turtle. No one at that time knew the true capabilities of the spheres, so they built three for redundancy. One was to be tested to destruction in February 1964, and plexiglass windows were installed by Southwest Research Institute. The test chamber, however, proved to be inadequate: the chamber lid blew off at 9,676 feet equivalent pressure!

Meanwhile, the Woods Hole operational team had begun to form, calling themselves the Deep Submergence Group. They started using the name Alvin for the sub to honor the prime mover and creative inspiration for the vehicle, Allyn Vine, a scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The name also benefitted from belonging to a popular cartoon chipmunk, but Allyn Vine was the true namesake.

The General Mills division building the submersible was sold to Litton Systems and ook over the building of the Alvin and on May 26, 1964 delivered it to Woods Hole, where it was commissioned on June 5. Froehlich, Vine, and pilot Bill Rainnie made the first two dives. There were a total of 77 shallow, tethered dives in or near Woods Hole to maximum depths of 70 feet, with the first free dive of the submersible taking place on Aug. 4, 1964 to 35 feet.

Source: here.


Alvin's manipulator arm was later upgraded and replaced with Kraft arms.

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The Alvin, a research submarine, cruising beneath

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See other early Underwater Robots here.


1958-62 – “Beetle” Mobile Manipulator – G.E. Corp. (American)

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1958-62 – "Beetle" Mobile Manipulator.


Background Information:

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Popular Mechanic's (Sep 1956) drawing made by Frank Tinsley from designs by Lee A. Ohlinger of Northrop Aviation, Inc. of a robot mechanic for the proposed atomic-powered airplane, a star-crossed project that stumbled through 10 years and $500,000 without ever getting off the ground.

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General Mills was one company that patented a 'Vehicle-Mounted Manipulator' in 1958 as its proposal for atomic-powered aircraft maintenance, amongst other purposes.

Publication number US3043448 A
Publication date Jul 10, 1962
Filing date Sep 19, 1958
Inventors Melton Donald F
Original Assignee Gen Mills Inc


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Source: Missiles and Rockets, Volume 9, 1961

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In 1961, GE's Beetle was under construction. The above few pictures show the model that was built beforehand.


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World's Biggest Robot By Martin Mann
Fix an atomic rocket engine? Clean up spills of radioactivity? Rescue H-bomb victims? That's what the Beetle is for
 
THAT monster glaring at you from the left is the biggest robot ever made. It weighs 170,000 pounds in its double-thick rubber treads. It can punch its claw hand through a concrete wall or gently stretch stainless-steel arms to pluck an egg off the top of a house. 
There's a man inside. Safe within the lead-and-steel cab, he can work where no unarmored man could live -in the deadly radiation that atomic energy the most fearsome as well as the most promising invention of the century.    
He could roll right up to the atomic engine of a space rocket and delicately maneuvering those 16-foot arms, make adjustments. Or he could replace a broken part in the atomic boiler of a power plant. Or haul the fatally hot debris of a nuclear accident away to the burying ground. If H-bombs struck he could dash into the destruction zone to rescue injured people and scrape away the worst of the fallout dust. 
That's what this bizarre machine, named the Beetle, can do. When PS Chief Photographer Bill Morris and I first saw the Beetle, it wasn't doing anything but sitting on a hangar floor. They couldn't start the engine.

Beetle is first of a family of robots that will handle the hot jobs of the atomic age

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Robot with a bellyache. In four days it operated seldom, and then it limped more than ran. There was difficulty with the degassing circuit. A plug popped and hydraulic fluid squirted out (a dedicated engineer, Dutch-boy-like, stuck his finger in the hole). A diode blew, immobilizing one arm (a welder had dropped a tool into the control chassis). The auxiliary generator pooped out (brush trouble). It seemed that short circuits had their own short circuits (after all, there are 400 miles of wiring in the thing).
Such bugs are standard equipment in any complex new machine. They were cleaned up in a furious week of round- the-clock troubleshooting. But these setbacks were only the culmination of troubles that dogged the Beetle from the beginning. It was originally designed to be a robot mechanic for the atomic-powered airplane, a star-crossed project that stumbled through 10 years and $500,000 without ever getting off the ground. So the Beetle is an orphan. The Air Force, which paid $1,500,000 for it, still isn't sure exactly what it will be used for. Yet the need for machines of this type is so certain that the orphan is already fathering a whole family of newer robots. The next models, now on the drafting boards, will bear only a family resemblance to Papa Beetle. They'll be smaller and lighter, so they can be air-lifted where needed. Most will be remote-controlled–without a man inside you don't need all that heavy radiation shielding.  
The Beetle does carry a man. That makes it more versatile. But it also requires some of the most elaborate engineering ever lavished on any ground vehicle.

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It looks like a tank because the chassis is reworked from an Army M42 40-mm. gun carrier. A 500-hp supercharged Continental six speeds it along roads at 10 m.p.h., but there's also an electrical drive by which it creeps 15 feet per minute. It could wrench the concrete all off a test cell without grunting hard–drawbar pull is 85,000 pounds.
The cab, however, is nothing like a tank turret. It not only turns around and around, but moves up and down 15 feet on four stainless-steel legs (built like hydraulic auto lifts). These movements are precise but slow, for that cab weighs 50 tons.
The walls are made of foot-thick lead covered inside and out with half inch steel plates. The entrance hatch is a tight-fitting cork of lead directly over the operator's head. It alone weighs 7 1/2 tons.  
The hatch offers the only way in or out.

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Understandably, there are four separate mechanisms for raising it: the regular hydraulic system, the battery-powered hydraulic pump, a hand pump on the operator's left armrest, and hand pump outside the cab.
Even with the four independent emergency outs, the operators seat is still no place for a guy with claustrophobia. It's eerily  oppressive even when the hatch is wide open (I tried it). Those 50 tons of lead and steel form the most effective suit of armor ever wrapped around a single man. It cuts down atomic rays by 3,000 times. That means the operator could put in a full day's work where the radiation level was 3,000 roentgens per hour. Unshielded  exposure to such intense radiation would  probably kill him after 10 minutes.  
The man who will seal himself inside this massive machine is young, flamboyant Randall Scraper, who comes from Indiana, but is always called Tex. Scrapper is one of the most skilful of an elite corps of technicians, the professional manipulators.

These specialists perform the same work as any repairman–taking machines apart and putting them back together again. But there is one big difference: The manipulators work on machines too "hot" to get close to. They cannot touch their work or even their tools. Everything must be done at long range with mechanical arms.

No sense-no feeling. The arm is a stainless-steel boned, electrically muscled copy of human equipment: shoulder, upper arm, elbow, forearm, wrist, and hand. The joints are superhuman: They spin around and around as well as bend. The hand is usually a two-fingered claw that can grasp and manoeuver parts or tools: but it can be snapped off and replaced by any of any specialized types–a socket-tipped finger, for instance.

The steel hand cannot feel, however, and that is a serious loss.You can't tell whether you are crushing something or holding it too loosley it will fall. (Dropping a nut or screw seldom matters: spilling a can of radioactive material could tie things up for weeks.)

Working with mechanical arrms is like playing the nickel-in-the-slot claw machine at an amusement park–and snaring the toy compass every time. It takes unusually sensitive coordination as well as icily calm concentrating–outwardly at least. Tex Scraper steadily chews gum and cigars, often both at once. But he possesses the supreme patience to devote eight hours to removing one nut from a bolt.

"I can do that,: Scraper drawls. "because I turn my ears off. People are always watching, trying to help. 'A little to the right,' they tell me. Well, it may be their right and my left. So I've taught myself to pay no mind. I don't even hear them."

The Beetle is worth its cost solely to take Scraper and his mechanical arms up close to the hot nuts and bolts. He gets safety and a clear view of the work (not perfect, yet better than television). But he pays for these advantages with total isolation.

The operator is sealed tight a mummy. There is barely space to wiggle a foot; standing or stretching is out of the question. His only direct connection to the outside world is an air intake.  
(The duct zigzags, like the entrance to a photographic darkroom so that radiation cannot "shine" in. Special filters are unnecessary because the air itself does not become radioactive.)    
A three-ton air conditioner keeps Scraper cosy (72 to 76 degrees, 60-percent humidity) even if the temperature outside plummets to 25 below or flames to 130 above zero. He talks to base by radio (two separate transmitter-receivers) or public-address system.    
There's even a microphone out front so that he can listen to the engine.

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A room with a view. Even more elaborate are the arrangements for looking out.
To go with the windows, there are two pairs of binoculars on swinging mounts; with them Scraper can read the scale of a standard micrometer gauging parts many feet distance.
There is a retracting, submarine-style periscope that rotates and tilts.
Finally there is closed-circuit TV. The screen sits between his legs. One camera is clipped to the cab, like a pencil in a man's breast pocket. It can be picked up and moved around by the mechanical arms. Two fixed cameras point to the rear so that Scraper can see what's going on behind him–outside rear-view mirrors are impractical.
The Beetle's cab even includes a few luxury accessories: a comfortable, power adjusted chair, ash tray, lighter. Most important of all, perhaps, is an oxygen bottle. If absolutely everything went wrong, it could sustain Scraper for eight hours. Presumably that would give time to haul the machine out of danger, cut the cab open, and free him.

Source: Popular Science, May 1962.


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Built by Jered Industries in Detroit for General Electric's Nuclear Materials and Propulsion Operation division, the Beetle was designed for the Air Force Special Weapons Centre, initially to service and maintain a planned fleet of atomic-powered Air Force bombers. According to declassified Air Force reports, work began on the 'Beetle' in 1959, and it was completed in 1961.

It has also been said [Halacy, "The Robots Are Here!", 1965] that the Beetle was built for NASA's "Project Rover", a nuclear rocket development program.


 Life Magazine, 4 May 1962 had a brief article and a couple of pictures of the Beetle.

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Beetle showing its versitility by putting an egg on a spoon. Not bad given the size and types of grippers, and lack of tactile feedback to the operator.

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A startled look as the Beetle is spotted in the make-up mirror.

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President Kennedy (back to camera) having a look.

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The Beetles' Arms and Hands

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The General Mills arm used in the Beetle is very similar to this arm descibed by patent US3247978. Karl Neumeier was one of General Mills engineers.

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The two-fingered hand is also described in the patent and is most likely the same if not very similar to that used on the Beetle's manipulator arms.

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General Mills Hook-and-anvil hand. {Image says PaR Systems, which was a spin-off from General Mills]

 

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The General Mills logo on the manipulator arm.

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In the Life Magazine article mentioned above, Getty-LIFE have a lot of images from that photo shoot. They appear in the photo gallery below.

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See other early Teleoperators and Industrial Robots here.


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