Posts Tagged ‘Remote Underwater Manipulator’

1966 – CRAB Remote-controlled Underwater Craft – Vyacheslav Yastrebov (Soviet)


1966 – CRAB Remote-controlled Underwater Craft by Dr. Vyacheslav Yastrebov



"Aquator" [Дкватор] – a moving robot for underwater research – came out of the walls of the Bauman Institute. Designers believe that this device will become active assistant hydrologists, ocean scientists, biologists – all those who study the depths of the sea.

The CRAB is named "Aquator" in this article.

The Bauman Institute of Underwater Devices and Robotics is part of Moscow State Technical University, the oldest institute in Russia; it also is one of the largest. Before the Revolution it was called the "Imperial High School."

Source: Engineering – Youth 1980-10, page 10


The "CRAB". Vyacheslav Yastrebov is on the far right in this photo.

The "Crab" was conceived as early at 1966 by Vyacheslav Yastrebov, Head of the Underwater Research Technique Laboratory. Yastrebov was one of the main designers of the robot. At the time, the most difficult problem was that of communication and a cable from the surface to the vehicle was the only feasible method. The use of computer-controlled programmes and master-slave manipulators was also envisioned, along with a television camera.

Two Crabs were built. The first was the "Crab 3,000" — a remote-controlled vehicle for depths of 3,000 m.  The second crab, the "Crab 4,000" was said to be built in 1971, although the Crab 3,000 was undergoing sea trials in 1972!

Sources: Underwater Association of Malta – 1966,  The Daily Review – Volume 13 – 1967 Page 1787


Lunokhod gets into deep water
Soviet oceanologists have recently been testing a new device for exploring the ocean bed. Nicknamed the Crab, it is similar in conception to their mooncar—Lunokhod-1. The Crab is mobile, has apparatus for studying the sea floor and taking samples, and has a television system. The control crew work from a mother ship, which has a cable link with the Crab for transmitting commands, television pictures and any other signals.
The Crab's first research mission was studying the underwater volcanoes in the Mediterranean, north of Sicily. The mother ship was the research vessel—the Akademik Sergei Vavilov—and the research team included designers of the Crab from the Academy of Sciences' Institute of Oceanology in Moscow. They used the Crab in two volcanic areas, lowering it at one time to a depth of 1250m. It sent back television pictures, took samples from the surface of the volcanoes, and, according to the head of the expedition, V. Yastrebov, generally worked successfully.

Source: New Scientist – Jul 27, 1972 – Page 196, Vol. 55, No. 806

The designers used a preprogrammed simple computer to control the CRAB – 4000.

Source: Marine Technology Society Journal – Volume 7 – Page 55 1973


The 'crab' remote-controlled underwater craft by YASTREBOV, V. Text Source: Underwater Journal. 5:117-119:June 1973.
The 'Crab' remote-controlled underwater craft is intended to carry out simple operations for collecting sea-bed material and animal specimens from the ocean floor at depths of up to 3600 m. It carries a TV-system, a manipulator, a hydraulic power system, a remote-control system and an autonomous storage battery supply. The entire electronic section of the equipment is housed in the front part of the 'Crab' in spherical boxes which are provided with portholes through which observations are conducted with the aid of television and a photographic camera. The boxes carry a hinged telescopic manipulator, the gripping part of which is adjusted for picking up objects of any shape as well as loose ground samples. The manipulator has a range. relative to the immobile craft, 0.4 m. The whole craft is positioned on a three-bearing flat platform and may revolve, relative to the platform, around its vertical axis, for 320°, allowing scanning of the area when the craft is on the ocean floor. The spherical boxes with the manipulator may be inclined to 30° giving the craft the facility for scanning, and the manipulator the possibility of servicing, a circular zone with an inner diameter of 2.2 m and outer diameter of 3 m. The craft itself is 1.4 m long, 1 m. wide and 0.4 m high and weighs 620 kg in air. After scooping the sample. the manipulator turns back and stops in its extreme rear position over a bin into which the scooped materials are placed. (Author).

Source: Underwater Medicine and Related Sciences: A Guide to the Literature Volume 2 … By Margaret F. Werts, Charles 'N. Shilling

An Overview of Non-U.S. Underwater Remotely Manned Manipulators by A. B. Rechnitzer – Received 9 June 1975
The U.S.S.R. is actively involved in automation research. The importance of this technology is evident by a special Commission on the Theory and Principles of Robot and Manipulation Devices within its Academy of Science. The Commission is responsible for forecasting development trends and the U.S.S.R. automation research program. The U.S.S.R. is putting significant emphasis on the development of robots and remotely operated systems involving supervisory control, artificial intelligence and systems development. Russian literature related to industrial robots and manipulators is extensive and reflects strong national interest and support active research, development and a high level of competence.
Research on undersea remotely manned systems at the Pyotr Shirshow Institute of Oceanology of the U.S.S.R. Academy of Sciences is comprehensive and reflects much innovation. Vyacheslav Yastrebov, Head of the Underwater Research Technique Laboratory leads the development of the theoretical and engineering principles contributing to the design of remote controlled underwater craft. Beginning in 1964 the aim of Yastrebov and his associates has been to develop systems for deep ocean research.
The first system to appear was called the Crab. The unmanned cable-controlled unit carried a TV system and photographer camera, a hinged telescopic manipulator, a hydraulic power system, a remote control system and an autonomous storage battery supply. The sample manipulator gripper could pick up objects of varying shapes at a maximum reach of 0.4 m.
The Crab can be landed on the sea floor to gain a stationary and stable condition. The undercarriage of the craft is fitted with a three-bearing platform that permits controlled rotation of the upper section containing the TV, camera and manipulator can be rotated around the vertical axis 320°. The upper section can also be inclined 30° for scanning and use of the manipulator through a concentric work area envelope with a 2.2 m inner dia. and 3 m outer dia. The manipulator scoop (gripper) is turned back (elbow) and retracted to position the sample over a storage bin. The manipulator and platform rotation are hydraulically powered.
Control commands and slow frame rate (10 frames per sec) television image are communicated to a surface support vessel via a coaxial cable. A frequency-time separation technique is used for transmitting control and TV-image signals at a carrier frequency of 3.5 Mc/s. Stepped finders are used in the craft as switching devices and information is transmitted via 22 channels.
The Crab went through its sea trials in the Black Sea in early 1972 down to a depth of 1500 m. Later the craft was used in the Tyrrhenian Sea to explore the tops of volcanic mountains summits at depths of 100-1200 m. Pictures of the sea-bed were obtained using TV and motion picture cameras in both the flying and resting modes. Specimens were collected using the manipulator.
An upgraded version of Crab Two has been built for operation to depths of 4000 m. Its manipulator, designed for 4000 m. use has 7° of freedom and is described as a copying manipulator (interpreted to mean master-slave). This manipulator has been tested aboard the U.S.S.R. manned submersible Sever-2.

Experienced gained from the two versions of Crab has lead to the development of a system of operating near the sea floor. This craft, named Manta is equipped with thrusters and a push-button control panel. Manta encompasses many features common to the Crab. A key added feature is the surface controller's chair that is coupled to the Manta vehicle through a servo-feedback circuit that repeats the pitch and roll of the Manta to provide an operator sense of presence. This innovation has proven to be very effective when tested against the traditional fixed chair for the operator.
The Manta manipulator performance has been upgraded by the introduction of preprogrammed motion instructions to carry out repeat actions involved in grasping and storing collected samples.

Source: Mechanism and Machine Theory, 1977 Vol 12. pp. 51-56 Pergamon Press.

The Institute of Oceanology, USSR, capitalizing on experiences with the 4,000m CRAB-4000 in 1971, developed the MANTA vehicle. The operational theory behind MANTA was that it is practically impossible for a man to successfully operate a moving system without a proper feedback which acts upon the whole complex of sensors within his central nervous system (Mikhaltsev, 1973). A group of tenso-sensors was mounted on MANTA and a special servo-controlled, hydraulically-driven operator's chair which closed the feedback circuit, was constructed.
The chair repeated all the roll and pitch movements of the underwater vehicle and allowed the operator to feel MANTA' s maneuvering. Further sophistication was added by incorporating the feedback provided by the manipulator's tenso-sensors into a simple computer which gave the preprogrammed computer the ability to command the manipulator system. As of 1973 the preprogramming was fulfilled, but only under laboratory conditions. Source: Remotely operated vehicles / prepared by R. Frank Busby Associates, 1979.


The "MANTA-1500"


See other early Underwater Robots here.

1977 – ERIC-II Teleoperated ROV – (French)


The 1977 ERIC-II Remote Operated Vehicle.

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Jean Vertut (CEA, Saclay, France) and Joel Charles (CERTSM, Toulon, France)
ERIC II, cable controlled deep submergence teleoperator system, is designed for remote observation, investigation and intervention from a surface ship, with a 6000 meters depth capability. The system is in development at CERTSM in Toulon Navy-Yard-France on contract of Ministere Des Armees; its main parts comprise first the heavy ancillary subsystems: cable handling gear, main cable, tether, PAGODE recovery fish, data and power transmission and second the ERIC II teleoperator fish and its control module. Special attention was paid at man-machine,interface problems in the early stage of development and the result is the current development of "telesymbiotic" oriented hardwares: head mobility with T.V. and microphones sensory feedback, force feedback dexterous arms on sponsorship of CEA-Saclay-France, agility concept in the fish dynamic control with inertia feedback by kinesthetic motorized sticks also with CEA cooperation. First significative real world experience on underwater dexterous manipulative tasks was gained in late 1974 with great success. First experimentation of ERIC II is scheduled for early 1977.

The teleoperator system is based on the MA-23 arms. See here.


An unmanned manipulator submersible developed for the French Navy has been described in some detail by J. Charles and J. Vertut (Table controlled deep submergence teleoperator system', Mech. and Machine Theory, 1977, 12, p. 481). This is designed to search and investigate on the sea floor down to a depth of 6000 m. It consists of a 'fish-house' called PAGODE which acts as a lift between the bottom and the surface and carries the main cable and the 300 m tether cable for the neutral buoyancy teleoperator 'fish' which is called ERIC II (see Fig. 8.22 top picture above). The combined system is dropped to the required depth and then ERIC swims out of the 'fish house' to carry out the task. It is planned to have ultimately 6 degrees of freedom for the television camera, controlled by the rotation and movement of the operator's head in the support ship, the movements being in relation to his chair fixed in space. The telechir 'head' has binaural microphones connected to two earphones on the helmet in which the operator's head is placed (see Fig. 8.23). This helmet has binocular TV display and is counterweighted. ERIC weighs 4-5 tons and has 100 kW propulsive power supplied at 600 volts 400 Hz to keep the voltage control systems fairly constant and to transmit the required signals. The data transmission system is a composite one with analogue for specific purposes and digital for general purposes. The position of the 'fish' is determined over large areas by bottom acoustic transponders and panoramic sonar and locally by sonar and forward TV cameras. The basic intention is to mimic the overall capacity of a human diver without the limitations imposed by pressure. The system has a main propeller gimballed so that it always thrusts along the tiller tension direction with a tether so that it swims like a free body. It has three pairs of ducted propellers with variable blade angles and with thrust transducers for three-dimensional steering and trim. The two bilateral arms are worked by an electromechanical system with cable transmission for the movements. Source: Robots and Telechirs – M.W. Thring 1983.


A later model – ERIC-10

See other early Underwater Robots here.

1965 – Telenaute ROV – (French)


The Telenaute Remote Operated Vehicle.


Manipulator arm of the Telenaute.


Movietone Newsreel Clip – hereTelenaute preparing for an underwater cave exploration.

A commercial French company, the Compagnie Generale pour le Developpement Operationel des Recherches Sousmarines, own a similar craft [to CURV] known as the Telenaute. This is capable of movement in any direction at depths up to about 1,000 m. The arm fitted to the Telenaute can handle a load of 50kg at a distance of 1.1 m. The Telenaute has a very open structure, since there is no need for an unmanned device to have a large and pressurised body. Source: Robotics – John Frederick Young – 1973.

The French Petroleum Institute (IFP -l’Institut Français de Recherches Pétrolières) built the "TELENAUTE", which is available for chartering. The "Telenaute" is a cable controlled, self propelled vehicle monitored from a control vessel on the surface. It is used for underwater search, making observations, filming and performing simple underwater operations.

See other early Underwater Robots here.

1960 – SOLARIS – Mechanical Crab – Jack Green (American)

SOLARIS – Submerged Object Locating And Retrieving/Identification System is a vehicle built by Vitro Laboratories for the U. S. Navy.

It can be used down to 650 foot depths and is controlled by a surface vessel through a cable. A toggle action claw is attached to the underside of the vehicle. It is designed to clamp cylindrical objects such as nose cones, torpedoes and mines. The claw is designed to retrieve objects weighing up to 5000 pounds in water. The claw is hydraulically operated through a toggle linkage. The over-center locking action of the toggle linkage provides maximum clamping pressure while minimizing the possibility of accidental release. SOLARIS can be fitted with different claws for special tasks. A servo valve controls the hydraulic power for the claw. A fifteen horsepower electric motor drives a hydraulic pump, rated at 3000 psi, which supplies the power for all the equipment on the vehicle. A TV system is used for viewing the undersea environment.


WORKING MODEL in photo above shows propellers for maneuvering, claw for grasping, and octopus-like body that houses electric motor to power both. Prototype will descend 850 feet, far deeper than human divers; later versions of Solaris will go down into the ocean as deep as two-fifths of a mile.


PAINTING IN FOLDOUT AT RIGHT [above] depicts Solaris at work salvaging wrecked plane—one of its many possible missions. See reverse side of foldout [below] for Solaris' various components and how the huge robot will be controlled from operator's console on the surface.


Mechanical Crab to Search Ocean Depths [Source: POPULAR SCIENCE, JULY 1960]
With an arm 2,000 feet long, TV-camera eyes, and a claw that can clamp onto a 2 1/2-ton load, the giant robot Solaris is a treasure-hunter's dream come true
By Devon Francis
SOMETIME late this fall, a U.S. Navy boat in Puget Sound will drop overside, on a couple of cables, one of the strangest contraptions ever lowered to the ocean's depths. On its top will be a brace of propellers, at its middle a sphere, at one side a television camera flanked by lights, and on its bottom a claw.
The thing will be called Solaris. It will be the underwater treasure-hunter's dream come true.
Imagine sitting high and dry on the deck of a boat, and having at your command an arm more than 2,000 feet long to pick up whatever suited your fancy from the ocean floor —plus eyes to scan thousands of square yards of it.
Now under construction in Silver Spring, Md., for experimental torpedo recovery for the Navy, Solaris will be unmanned. In prototype, it is designed to descend to 650 feet, but it can be adapted to go down as far as two-fifths of a mile. That's 1,750 feet below the average safe working depth of a human diver.
Solaris is designed to do everything that a human diver can do, and more.
The propellers are for maneuvering. The sphere is the power unit. The TV camera gives underwater eyes to an operator aboard the launching ship. The claw is for retrieving anything that the operator wants on the ocean bottom—including sunken treasure.
Solaris (Submerged Object Locating and Retrieving/ Identification System) is versatile. It can go exploring, covering 1,400,000 square yards of ocean floor at a depth of 2,000 feet.
It can perform such prosaic tasks as inspecting channel bottoms, ship keels, bridge pilings, and submarine cables. It can clamp and bring to the surface objects weighing as much as 2 1/2 tons. It can place explosive charges, and then back off and detonate them.
One of its possible uses is recovery of pieces of rockets fired from Cape Canaveral and destroyed in flight because of deviation from course. Skin divers have to do this now.
The Vitro Corp., which is building Solaris to specifications outlined by Jack Green, project engineer at the Naval Torpedo Station, Keyport, Wash., knows it can perform all these duties because a preceding device already has demonstrated it. What might be called the daddy of Solaris was developed, also, for the Navy. Its missions are classified.
One of the two cables is the lifeline of the snoopy Solaris. This cable lets it down and pulls it up. Solaris' second cable is its nervous system. Through this, the operator topside issues commands for the thing to crawfish this way and that, to rise a bit or descend, to clamp onto a prize, to drive studs into steel plating, or to plant explosives.
The second cable also carries current for lights that illuminate the inky reaches of the deep, and it transmits the TV signals to a screen so the operator can see what he's doing.
Sitting at a console, the operator taps the second cable for information on heading, depth, height above bottom, propeller r.p.m., amount of illumination, and what Solaris' claws (or one of its substitute fitments) are up to.
That second cable, carrying the electrical lines, must be strong enough to take some tension, yet flexible enough to bend and twist while the vehicle is scrounging around on its boggle-eyed missions.
The sphere (a sort of octopus body inside Solaris' working ganglia) houses a 10-horsepower electric motor. It turns a hydraulic pump that supplies power not only for propulsion but also for the claw. To keep everything shipshape, the watertight sphere contains a leak detector and depth-measuring sonar.
How is works. To maneuver the vehicle, the operator has only to turn on the propellers and vary their speed. They are driven hydraulically through gearing that is essentially like an automobile differential.
The first cable is only a leash. Under the thrust provided by the propellers, Solaris strains against its hold. That's the secret of the depth control. The propellers' pitch can be varied to increase or decrease the thrust. Balancing off that thrust against the pull of the leash controls the height of Solaris above sea bottom.
The forces involved are the same as those in water skiing—with enough tension on the towing line, a skier planes on top of the water. When the tension drops the skier sinks.
The depth control is mostly automatic. The operator at the console on shipboard knows the topography of the ocean floor and at what depth he wants Solaris to operate. He turns a knob to get proper propeller thrust against cable tension.
Inside Solaris' sphere is a simple strain gauge to measure the pressure of the water. If the height isn't right, a signal travels back along the electrical cable to a servo motor on a winch that the leash-cable wraps around. The servo motor boosts or decreases tension on the leash-cable, as the situation demands.
But what if the console operator discovers on his TV screen that Solaris is on the brink of an ocean-floor trench that it must get into to do its job? The operator simply feeds a signal to the strain gauge that, in effect, reduces its sensitivity. The gauge telegraphs the motor winch, the cable tension is reduced, and Solaris drifts down into the trench.
Through the second cable also flow console commands for maneuvering right or left by changing the pitch on one propeller or the other.
It was Vitro's success in designing the second cable that led to the idea for Solaris. The company produced a torpedo for the Navy that trailed a long control cable behind it when it was shot from its tube. Directions fed through the cable to the torpedo's steering mechanism guided it precisely to its target. Solaris was a logical adaptation.
The Vitro people see no end of usefulness to Solaris. As a seeing-eye robot below the waves, it could discover a new shrimp bed, examine a faulty ship's propeller, or—who knows?—even retrieve long-sunken chests of Spanish doubloons.


Depth hidden ocean secrets may someday be an "open book" to scientists through further development of machines that are already performing scores of impressive underwater functions……..

Shown on the cover and on page 44 of this issue of S&M is the Vitro Corporation's SOLARIS, a claw-equipped robot, at work recovering a torpedo at a depth of 1620 feet.

Solaris has propellers that are driven at a constant speed of 420 rpm. By varying the pitch of the propeller blades, ship-board operators can adjust the thrust of each propeller from 250 pounds positive to 200 pounds negative. It has a maximum forward speed of about three mph after overcoming the drag of its lengthy connecting cables.



Source: Holland Evening Sentinel 18 July, 1960
MECHANICAL CRAB — An extremely facile device to retrieve spent torpedoes, small missiles and other metallic debris from the ocean floor is being perfected for the government by a Washington scientific laboratory.
Named the "Solaris," the device weighs 500 pounds, but can lift objects weighing up to three and one-half tons from the ocean floor. Its key piece of equipment is a television camera that enables operators on surface ships to "see" what lies in front of the device as it traverses the ocean floor at about 1 1/2 knots.
Solaris is equipped with a variety of "claws" for holding objects. It can pick up a spent torpedo, a missile casing or underwater pipes. It can also plant explosives and even fire a connecting stud into an unwieldy object so a cable can be attached.
An electro-magnet can be attached for gathering scrap metal and there is a grapple for netting. There are brilliant lamps that can be used  to chart the ocean floor or help inspect underwater operations.
Work on the device has cost the government many thousands of dollars, but it is expected to pay for itself many times over.

See other early Underwater Robots here.

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


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
Victor C. Anderson, University of California, La Jolla Marine Physical Laboratory of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography San Diego 52, California
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.
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.






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.







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.



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.



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.



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






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


Dr. Victor Anderson.

A view of the Navy's remote underwater m





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.


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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rum-3-Deep-Sea Sediments-x640

rum-4-Deep-Sea Sediments-x640

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.


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


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


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.