Posts Tagged ‘Robot’

1928 – “The Psychophonic Nurse” (Fiction) – David H. Keller (American)

“The Psychophonic Nurse”, by David H. Keller. Published in Amazing Stories, 1928

The Psychophonic Nurse Frank R Paul 1928 1928   The Psychophonic Nurse (Fiction)   David H. Keller (American)

Illustration by Frank R. Paul.

The Psychophonic Nurse
A child-care robot – a nanny bot.

“I had her made by the Eastinghouse Electric Company. You see, she’s just a machine nurse, but as she doesn’t eat anything, is on duty twenty-four hours a day, and draws no salary, she’s cheap at the price I paid.”

“…let me show you how she works. She’s made of a combination of springs, levers, acoustic intruments, and by means of tubes such as are used in the radio, she’s very sensitive to sounds. She’s connected to the house current by a long, flexible cord, which supplies her with the necessary energy. To simplify matters, I had the orders put into numbers instead of sentences. One means that the baby is to be fed; seven that she’s to be changed…”

“…When I ordered this machine … I bought a phonograph with clock attachment. It will run for twenty-four hours without attention. Then I had a baby doctor work out a twenty-four hour programme of infant activity for different ages. Our baby is about two months old. You put this phonograph with the two-month record on it in the nursery… At definite periods of the twenty-four hours the phonograph will call out a number and the nurse will do what is necessary…

Article sourced from here.

[RH - one wonders how long baby would be in soiled daipers before the appropriate 'number' came up?]

The above fictional robot was inspired by the then new and wonderful Westinghouse Televox of 1927, which operated in s similar fashion.

See other early Domestic Service Robots here.

1950 – Remote-control Manipulator – Art Youmans (American)

 1950   Remote control Manipulator   Art Youmans (American)

Several feet away, the operator controls the arm from this chair.

 1950   Remote control Manipulator   Art Youmans (American)

It can measure out liquid by the drop.

 1950   Remote control Manipulator   Art Youmans (American)

 "Adelbert"—Science's "Right Arm"—Can Even Write Its Name
ALTHOUGH it looks more like a dentist's oversized drill, a gentle-acting mechanical arm called "Adelbert" is actually built like the human arm. It has an elbow, shoulder, wrist and fingers. Unlike normal arms, it is completely double-jointed.
Adelbert's inventor is Art Youmans, who works for a Tulsa company that does radioactivity well logging in surveying oil fields. Radioactive materials often require remote handling, hence the invention of remotely operated Adelbert. Youmans spent 18 months working on his robot.
Similar arms are in use in research labs, but Youmans claims his arm is best. It is versatile. It can snatch up heavy cans or fondle eggs. It pours from slender test tubes as adroitly as a chemist. Even untrained operators can pour liquids with Adelbert and not spill a drop. A favorite trick is to pick up a pencil and write its name.
The operator sits in a one-armed chair—the arm being the control. When the operator moves this arm forward by pivoting his arm from the shoulder, Adelbert does likewise. Raise a forearm and the mechanical arm mirrors the action. A pistol-grip bar controls the twisting of the wrist. This movement even outdoes the human arm- can spin its hand all the way around in either direction. That's handy for screwing nuts on bolts. Open the fingers and Adelbert follows suit. Unaffected by radiation, Adelbert offers safety and deftness—a combination atomic researchers need.

 1950   Remote control Manipulator   Art Youmans (American)
Inventor Art Youmans watches his "right arm" mix chemicals.

 1950   Remote control Manipulator   Art Youmans (American)

It is gentle enough to handle eggs.

 1950   Remote control Manipulator   Art Youmans (American)

 1950   Remote control Manipulator   Art Youmans (American)

 1950   Remote control Manipulator   Art Youmans (American)

Publication number    US2861699 A
Publication date    25 Nov 1958
Filing date    16 Oct 1950
Also published as    DE976882C
Inventors    Arthur H Youmans
Original Assignee    Gen Mills Inc

Remote-control Manipulator

The present invention ……… provides a manipulator that may be entirely electrically operated from a remote point …….  The manipulator can be operated by a separate unit which transmits power to it in any desired manner. The device of the instant invention can be made to perform all of the operations that can be performed with the human arm as well as operations which would be incapable of performance with the human arm. It can be made to perform double jointed movements and large angle deflections of its elements which cannot be duplicated by the human arm. It is fundamentally different from a set of tongs because it can be directed to perform a complicated series of movements which the operator at the controls supervises but does not himself perform.

It can perform operations at any rate and in any manner which the operator chooses and each operation can be controlled with any degree of precision which the operator desires by independently reducing or increasing the speed of the separate elements moving in their respective degrees of freedom. Since each of the movable elements of the manipulator forming the subject matter of the present invention may be moved independently, delicate operations may be performed by incrementally moving one element at a time about its pivotal joint while all other movable elements of the apparatus remain automatically relatively fixed.

The apparatus of the instant invention is extremely versatile in that the hand of the manipulator is provided with gripping members which may be adjutsed to the position of the object being handled with respect to the axis of rotation of the hand. Thus, for example, in pouring one can hold the lip of the vessel stationary while rotating the body of the vessel or in holding a screw driver one can make the blade stay in a screw slot during rotation of the screw driver. This is made possible by adjusting the span of the hand by moving one set of digits which oppose a movable thumb in a manner that will align the object to be manipulated with the axis of rotation of the hand. Novel arrangements have been provided for actuating the grasping digits of the hand whereby any desired pressure can be exerted by the digits on the object being grasped at the will of the operator through the medium of the novel control provided for the manipulator. 

… see more patent description here.

See other Early Teleoperators and Manipulators here.

1950c – “The Iron Hand” Industrial Robot – Erie Engineering Company (American)

The Iron Hand (Sourced from here and authored by Kerry Kirsch)

The Iron Hand was a robot that was developed by someone at Erie Engineering Company, 840 West Baltimore, Detroit, Michigan in the shadows of the old General Motors Building. Erie Engineering was owned by my grandfather, Frank Karl Kirsch, and specialized in Tool & Die designs for the automobile companies. The name "Iron Hand" sounds like it was inspired by a comic book hero. Back then, safety was not the priority that it is today. At a very young age, I recall hearing several stories of people regularly being injured, or killed in a stamping press. I won't go into the details, but I suspect that these reoccurring tragedies led to the idea of the Iron Hand to automate press work. I don't know the exact date of the photographs, but a car is visible in the background. I would be interested from hearing from someone the model and date to get a more accurate timeframe. I am guessing that they are from the late 1940s, early 1950s.

iron hand 1a x640 1950c   The Iron Hand Industrial Robot   Erie Engineering Company (American)

I suspect that the guy in the first picture was the man responsible for the design – he looks like a proud father. Unfortunately, I don't know who he is. I understand that the robot was hydraulically powered and the photos seem to show a hydraulic cylinder. The part in the gripper is a sheet metal stamping that appears to be part of a floor pan.

iron hand 2 x640 1950c   The Iron Hand Industrial Robot   Erie Engineering Company (American)

[RH/ Car appears to be an 1950 Buick bucktooth grille designed by Henry Lauve]

Back in those days, there were not a lot of options for controlling machines. The Iron Hand was controlled by a traffic light controller. Basically it is a timer that fired hydraulic valves. The mechanism for the arm is really quite ingenious. If you look carefully, you will notice a cylinder at the rear of the arm that imparts motion for reaching through a pair of links of unequal length to the upper rear arm. The arm consists of 4 rods connected at an elbow. In the elbow is a link that imparts motion from the upper rear rod to the lower front rod. It produces near perfect linear motion with only one cylinder.

Iron Hand 3 x640 1950c   The Iron Hand Industrial Robot   Erie Engineering Company (American)

The above photo appears different from the other two. The robot is rotationally in a different position than in the previous photos and there appears to be some heavy chain attached to the frame that could not be seen in the others. I suspect this is because of the appearance of a waist axis. It’s not clear to me how this would have worked yet, but I'm sure someone has some ideas.

Iron Hand 4 x640 1950c   The Iron Hand Industrial Robot   Erie Engineering Company (American)

This is a photo of the prototype model I took recently. Under the triangular shaped plates at the top there was a short link that connected the lower left arm to the upper right arm. The link was broken off before I got the model. When I was in college, I measured it all up and wrote a Fortran program to model and plot how it would move. It produced near perfect linear motion. For my senior project at Lawrence Institute of Technology, I designed and built a similar arm that used 4 gears to replace the linking mechanism. I used a single DC servo motor with a harmonic drive gear reducer to rotate one of the rear arms at the base to achieve linear motion.

See other Early Teleoperators, Industrial Robots and Manipulators here.

1948 – Ueno Zoo Robotized “Monkey Train” – Jiro Aizawa (Japanese)

 1948   Ueno Zoo Robotized Monkey Train   Jiro Aizawa (Japanese)

Osaru densha monkey train robot aizawa detail x640 1948   Ueno Zoo Robotized Monkey Train   Jiro Aizawa (Japanese)

The monkey with the robot engineer. There appears to be a photo-electric cell mounted on the front. Maybe this is the 'robot' safeguard required for safe operation.

aizawa 1948 book 0001 x640 1948   Ueno Zoo Robotized Monkey Train   Jiro Aizawa (Japanese)

Jiro Aizawa was the inventor of the robotized "Monkey Train" at Tokyo's Ueno Zoo. Its been siad that he also patented the train, but I have not been able to locate that patent.

Source: Japanese Wartime Zoo Policy: The Silent Victims of World War by Mayumi Itoh
Children's Zoo and "Monkey Train"
Ueno Zoo also opened a children's zoo for the first time in Japan in April 1948. It also began the "Monkey Train" in October of the same year in order to attract visitors, given the paucity of popular animals among children. The Monkey Train, with a simian conductor carrying children in an open train, became an institution at the zoo (the handle was actually controlled electrically and was safe). Hayashi, the "idea man," designed this program and supervised the actions of the female crab-eating macaque as the conductor. This popular attraction continued until June 1974 when the zoo accepted criticisms, domestic and foreign, that chaining the crab-eating macaque to the train for over an hour, making it perform as a conductor, ran counter to the fundamental mandate of the Animal Protection and Control Law that Japan had legislated in 1973. At any rate, owing to Koga's leadership and Hayashi's creativity, Ueno Zoo recovered in 1951 almost to its wartime peak in 1940, registering 1,196 specimens of 232 species.'

Source: Far Eastern Economic Review, September 27, 1974- Page 13

 Should monkeys drive trains?
Since 1948, happy trained monkeys have been regularly driving a three-car train around a 164-metre track inside Tokyo's Ueno Zoo, carrying an annual average of more than one million passengers, mostly children. They pull a lever, when the human station-master whistles, maintains an even speed with a hairy paw on the brakes, bring the train to a smooth halt at the end of the line, and spring out to salute the dismounting passengers. The working schedule for each monkey is less than two hours, with a union lay-off of two hours.  The zoo authorities insist that the monkeys which are taught to drive are happier than caged monkeys, which jabber excitedly and point enviously as the train speeds by and the driver waves to them with tolerant superiority.
However, the Japan Animal Welfare Society (JAWS) rejoined the Japanese SPCA in protesting against the unique practice. A new Japanese law, JAWS says, demands that "animals should be handled in a proper manner with respect to the natural habits." Jiro Aizawa, chief director of the Japanese Children's Culture Research Institute, who invented and patented the monkey's train, opposes the animal lovers' campaign. "These adults", he argues logically, "must be persons who have never experienced the joys of playing with toys."

The new "Monkey Train" was based on the then new Bullet Train.  The monkey was now only a "passenger".

 1948   Ueno Zoo Robotized Monkey Train   Jiro Aizawa (Japanese)

 1948   Ueno Zoo Robotized Monkey Train   Jiro Aizawa (Japanese)

December, 1971.

ueno monkey train 2 1948   Ueno Zoo Robotized Monkey Train   Jiro Aizawa (Japanese)

Due to public criticism, Ueon's "Monkey Train" was stopped in June of 1974.

The idea of using primates in attractions was still alive in 1950, although the orangutan is not actually driving in this case.
ape engineer mech illus nov 1950 x640 1948   Ueno Zoo Robotized Monkey Train   Jiro Aizawa (Japanese)
Mechanix Illustrated, November 1950.
Ape Engineer Ling Wong is a baby orangutan at Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago. Placidly wearing an engineer's cap, gloves and goggles, Ling squats on the Diesel engine of the "Zoo Line," the kids' own train, and it would be hard to say who's having the most fun. Ling used to work for the Chimpanzeelvania Line.

See Aizawa's other Robot trains here.

See all the known early Humanoid Robots including Aizawa's Robots here.

1933 – Giant Walking Bridge – M. Clemients (French)

robot walking bridge 1933 x640 1933   Giant Walking Bridge   M. Clemients (French)

During 1933, engineer's were determining how the Golden Gate Bridge[1] was to be built.

robot walking bridge 1933 5 x640 1933   Giant Walking Bridge   M. Clemients (French)

Source: Modern Mechanix and Inventions, Dec 1933.

One engineer's suggestion for the solution of the problem of sinking caissons[2] is depicted here in this picture of a "walking bridge." Definite placement of caissons has always been an engineering bugaboo when they are floated over a spot and sunk. Especially is this true in harbors where there are side rips, or in rivers where strong currents are found. While the walking version may be impracticable, a caterpillar footed bridge is certainly plausible and has many merrits from a constructional standpoint.


The size of the caissons which must be built and sunk to enable piers to be built has called forth one of the most novel engineering proposals of recent years – still another bridge, a “Walking Bridge” if you please – which will walk to the location with the caisson and there accurately sink it upon the exact spot required.

Caissons are an essential impedimenta to bridge building of this type, and they are hard to handle in tide rips or rivers which have currents. M. Clemients, French engineer of Paris, has proposed a mobile structure which could pick up the caisson and either by walking with it, or on caterpillar treads, move to the spot desired to muck the caisson in.

[1] The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the Golden Gate strait, the mile-wide, three-mile-long channel between San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean.

[2] caisson from wiki In geotechnical engineering, a caisson (/ˈkeɪsən/ or /ˈkeɪsɒn/) is a watertight retaining structure used, for example, to work on the foundations of a bridge pier, for the construction of a concrete dam, or for the repair of ships. These are constructed such that the water can be pumped out, keeping the working environment dry. When piers are to be built using an open caisson and it is not practical to reach suitable soil, friction pilings may be driven to form a suitable sub-foundation. These piles are connected by a foundation pad upon which the column pier is erected.

See all the known Steam Men and early Walking Machines here.

See all the known early Humanoid Robots here.