Posts Tagged ‘John W. Jameson’

1985 – Direct Link Prehensor (DLP) – John W. Jameson (American)


1985 – Direct Link Prehensor (DLP) by John W. Jameson.

The project stalled in 1986. Originally designed for astronaut hard suits, it was later licensed to Nuytco for its atmospheric diving systems, or ADS, particularly the then new Exosuit.



The Prehensor is a manipulator that matches the dexterity of a gloved human hand. External ‘fingers’ mimic the exact movements of the inside ‘master’ hand and provide full, 100% reflexive index-ability of the external thumb, in concert with the number of other digits employed. In addition, the outside ‘slave hand’ provides directly proportional sensory feedback of pressure, weight, etc., to the inside master hand (yours!).

The unique capabilities of the Prehensor were developed specifically with the Nuytco ADS ‘Exosuit’ in mind, but the system can easily replace existing simple jaw-style manipulators for use on ADS units. An electronically-controlled version is under development for use on remotely operated vehicles (ROV’s) and deep submersibles. There also has been discussion with the national space agencies of several countries on the use of the ‘Prehensor’ as a possible alternative to the conventional space-suit gloves.





Mechanical prehensor

Publication number US4984951 A
Publication type Grant
Application number US 07/412,540
Publication date 15 Jan 1991
Filing date 22 Sep 1989
Priority date 20 Jan 1988
Fee status Lapsed
Inventor John W. Jameson
Original Assignee The Board Of Trustees Of The Leland Stanford Junior University

The patent was later licensed to Nuytco Research Ltd. around 1990.

A generally anthropomorphic prehensor having at least two mechanical finger apparatus which interface directly with an object being grasped by apparatus of mechanical linking and control mechanisms operatively connected to the operator's fingers. Each mechanical finger has at least two finger links adjacent one another, each finger link independently rotatable about parallel axes in a plane of movement in response to movements of the corresponding phalanges of the operator's fingers. The mechanical prehensor is particularly useful in hostile or hazardous environments such as outer space, underwater, nuclear reactor sites or other hazardous environments, since the mechanical finger means are external to the operator's hand and may be constructed from suitable materials which are unreactive with the hostile environment, while the operator's hand and mechanical linking and control components may be sealed from the hazardous environment by means of a suitable protective shroud.

Manipulation means resembling crude pincers have been used in connection with diving suits for deep sea operations. The "Jim Suit", manufactured by UMEL of Farnborough, England, for example, has rudimentary external pincers for grasping which are mechanically actuated by hand movements, and it provides a gas-tight shroud around control mechanisms manipulable by the operator's hand. The pincers are claw-like, having two opposed finger means rotatable about a single axis in generally the same plane of movement. Mechanically actuated pincers of this type have some utility in grasping objects in hostile environments, but they achieve only a clamping-type grasp, and thus they provide limited external dexterity and manipulation.

Space suits developed for extra-vehicular activities in outer space typically have gloves for covering the hands of the space explorer. Due to pressurization inside the space suit and gloves, however, the gloves become very stiff during extra-vehicular activities, resulting in limited external dexterity and excessive hand fatigue.

Robotic manipulation devices having a plurality of finger means simulating human finger motions are currently being developed which may have some application in hostile environments. Robotic manipulation devices having multiple fingers capable of executing multiple degree of freedom movements are typically controlled electronically and require substantial amounts of energy for operation. While these types of robotic manipulation devices provide a high degree of external dexterity, the energy required for operation and the bulk of the control mechanisms render them impractical for use in many hostile environments.

It is an object of the present invention to provide a generally anthropomorphic prehensor having external finger means mechanically controllable by movements of the operator's fingers.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a generally anthropomorphic mechanical prehensor providing enhanced dexterity in hazardous environments which operates in response to movements of the operator's fingers and has no supplemental energy requirements.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a hand-powered mechanical prehensor which significantly reduces operator hand fatigue and increases operator safety and dexterity in hostile environments. It is yet another object of the present invention to provide a prehensor having at least two external mechanical finger means, each mechanical finger means capable of selectively executing multiple motions in a plane of motion, thus providing enhanced mechanical fingertip prehension and the ability to grasp and manipulate objects in a hostile environment. It is still another object of the present invention to provide a generally anthropomorphic prehensor having external finger means mechanically actuated by movements of the operator's fingers which provides smooth, accurate, sensitive mechanical finger control, and which is reliable and simple to operate.






Selected stills from the above video clip.





With the shroud completed the DLP was ready to place on the spacesuit for testing. But there was a problem. It turned out that not enough attention was given to the ability of extracting the fingers from the control rings for doffing the DLP, and it was never tested with a suit. The Challenger accident [1986] curtailed the project before this could be corrected.

Trivia: John W. Jameson is the same person who designed and built the amazing Walking Gyro!

See other early Underwater Robots here.

1997-2000 – “Exosuit” Development – R. T. “Phil” Nuytten (Canadian)

sport-diver-exosuit - copy-x640

The EXOSUIT mock-up by R. T. "Phil" Nuytten from 1999.


Sylvia Earle with the Exosuit mock-up in 1999.

The Exosuit is Phil Nuytten's next generation Atmospheric Diving System following from his successful Newtsuit.


Sport Diver Nov-Dec 2005

Dr. Phil and the Amazing Exosuit by Daryl Carson.
If you haven't heard of diving's Dr. Phil, here's a tip: He's nothing like the one you might find on weekday television. His genius is in solving mechanical difficulties, and he's applied that genius to building fantastic machines for sub-sea use. In a career spanning four decades, he's produced numerous underwater vehicles worthy of science fiction.
Most sport divers know Dr. Phil Nuytten as the face peering from the clear mask of the Newtsuit, a one-atmosphere, hard-shell diving suit that looks like a yellow Michelin Man. Some know him, too, as the creator of the DeepWorker micro-submersibles used by Sylvia Earle during the Sustainable Seas Expeditions begun in the late '90s. However, in 2000 the diving world got another big shot of Nuytten when Dr. Phil unveiled the Exosuit. Since then divers have been salivating over the possibilities created by this pressure suit capable of free-swimming to depths of 600 feet. Even more tantalizing has been talk of a model aimed at the recreational market and priced this side of six figures.
After more than five years of beta testing, a production model is incredibly close. I had the chance to speak with Dr. Phil recently, and he happily admits he's "running out of excuses" not to put the Exosuit on the market. (Work on the suit was slowed due to resources poured into the DeepWorker project. It seems they can't build the little subs fast enough.)
Three issues have been hampering production, and two of them have recently been overcome. One was the cost of making the joints that give the Exosuit its flexibility, but a new approach has greatly reduced that expense. Another was developing a five-fingered hand (not shown) instead of the simple claw found on the Newtsuit. Dr. Phil says he now has a fully mechanical device that works in concert with the human hand. It's sensitive enough to allow the user to pick up a pen and sign his name. The last hurdle is performing swimming trials, which, if all goes well, could take place as early as next spring.
"I'm hoping to recover a lot of our engineering costs on the first 50 to 75 units," says Dr. Phil, who points out that military and underwater construction applications will be the most prominent. "But eventually I'd like to get the cost down to that of a couple of Volkswagens."
Materials: Composite fiber hull with metal inserts
Manipulator: Simple claw manipulator or optional multi-fingered prehensor "hand" [edited]
Models: Free-swimming, self-contained and surface-supplied
Height: Variable 5'6" to 6'4"
Beam: 20" torso, 30" elbow to elbow (average)
Weight in Air: 120 lb. bare; 160 lb. with tanks and scrubber pack
Operating Depth: 300/600 feet
Payload: 200 lb.
Life Support: Dual external cylinders (02, diluent — gas that's mixed with 02 to make it safer to breathe); 48 man-hours

The Exosuit has taken longer to get to market than expected. These images are some 10 or more years since the initial development.







The well-proven pincer-styled gripper. A new prehensor is offered as an option.

HUBLOT Exosuit 10-x640



This image, promoting the HUBLOT wristwatch, highlights the size of the hand cowling of the Exosuit.


A later image still showing the 'swimmer' option still being promoted.


Phil Nuytten has proposed a project called "Vent Base Alpha". "I have a plan for an underwater Mars-like colony. It will essentially be powered by the heat vents on the ocean floor and will house people to work on an undersea mining operation out of the heat vents. I´ve spent the last couple of years talking to people all around the world about this concept, and I´m ready to see it happen. I call it Vent Base Alpha."

See other early Underwater Robots here.

1981 – The Walking Gyro – John W. Jameson (American)

The Walking Gyro was conceived and built by John Jameson in 1981. 

Article Source: Robotics Age, January 1985.


John W Jameson
275 E. O'Keefe #7 
Palo Alto, CA 94303

Walking machines generally fall into one of two categories: statically balanced or dynamically balanced. A statically balanced machine maintains stability at every position in its stride by always keeping its center of gravity aboye the region of contact between the machine and the surface.                       

A dynamically balanced machine is generally not statically stable at every stride position and must rely on intermittently applied control forces in order to keep upright. The Walking Gyro seems to fit best into the latter category, but its simplicity relative to other forms of dynamically stabilized walking machines makes it an attractive alternative for home experimentation.
Two characteristics are readily observed by experimentation with any toy gyroscope. One is the gyroscope's inherent stability, as illustrated by its ability to stay upright while keeping only one point in contact with a supporting surface. Another is the counter-intuitive reaction the device exhibits when the gyroscope is twisted about an axis perpendicular to the flywheel spin axis. The Walking Gyro utilizes both characteristics plus a third, gyroscopic precession, to provide a walking mobility base.

Although I have not yet constructed a model of the scale desirable for an experimental home robot, my analysis of the Walking Gyro's dynamics indicates that such a device is feasible. In fact, the analysis indicates that the stability and load-carrying capabilities increase dramatically with scale. Although the principies of the Walking Gyro are somewhat complicated, the basic mechanism is quite simple. Adding velocity and direction control offers a challenging (though not necessarily complicated) task for the home experimenter.  

The Walking Gyro utilizes the angular momentum of a spinning flywheel to perform the following functions: lift the feet, balance during the stride via gyroscopic reaction torque, and move forward via gyroscopic precession. My prototype, shown in Photo 1, is powered by a hand crank and relies on  energy stored in the flywheel to sustain motion.
Figure 1 shows a side view, partially sectioned, of a Walking Gyro in mid-stride.  The housing (1), which contains the flywheel (2), and the gear train (3), is caused to tilt back and forth with respect to the  leg frame (4) by the crank (5) and link (6).                                    

This motion is about the fore-and-aft pivot (7). The legs (8) are attached to the leg frame by the fore-and-aft pivots (9) and the feet (10) are attached to the legs by the vertical pivots (11). Finally, the horizontal bar (12) connects to both legs by the fore-and-aft pivots (13) so that they stay parallel. Note that in this particular presentation, the mechanism is equipped with an adaptor for a crank (14), which is used to bring the flywheel up to operating speed.


Caption  Photo 1. The Walking Gyro caught in mid-step.

Figure 2 details the mechanism's movements. Figure 2a shows the Walking Gyroscope in a neutral position. Figures 2b and 2c show the motion that would occur if the feet were somehow attached to  the walking surface. Figure 2b shows the housing tilting to the left, and Figure 2c shows a tilt to the right. Figures 2e and 2f show what happens if the same conditions of Figures 2b and 2c occur but with the feet free to move. Instead of the housing tilting to the left, the gyroscopic element maintains the vertical attitude of the housing, and thus the left foot is lifted off the surface, conserving the housing tilt angle with respect to the leg frame (Figure 2e).
As soon as the left foot is off the surface, gyroscopic precession causes the housing to pivot about the right foot. The left foot returns to the surface as the crank goes around, whereupon the right foot is lifted in a similar fashion (Figure 20. The housing then pivots about the left foot.
Since the precession about opposite feet is in the opposite direction, the result is a forward walking motion.
This explanation does not adequately account for the Walking Gyro's ability to pick up its feet. The primary aspects of the Walking Gyro's operation are based on the well-established theory of gyroscopic motion.

Figure 1. Cross-section of a slightly altered form of the prototype Walking Gyro.

See images for rest of article.


See full patent details here.

Patent number: 4365437
Filing date: Apr 15, 1981
Issue date: Dec 28, 1982

Toys based on Jameson's patent.

Remote-control to move robot in different directions.

"Hitch Hiker" Walking Robot.

Showing the insides of the "Hitch Hiker" version.



Meccano model of The Walking Gyro.

The Meccano model on the right was built by Bernard Perier from a Meccano set. Gyroscopic reaction force causes lifting of the feet and gyroscopic precession drives the motion forward.

(photo by Stefan Tokarski)

Gyroman 3D-printed by by Jeff Kerr from Make Magazine.




It would be great to see a scaled-up one of these at Burning Man with the driver as the payload.

**Update July 2015 – There’s a rumor that the original designer, John Jameson, is considering a giant, rideable version of Gyroman.

See also the Gyrocycle.