Posts Tagged ‘Westinghouse’

1968-69 – Deepstar 2000 Diving Saucer – Westinghouse (American)


1968-69 – Deepstar 2000 Diving Saucer by Westinghouse.


The manipulator arm is simple as per all Cousteau/Westinghouse submersibles of this period with only two degrees of freedom. The arm is electro-hydraulic and the claw is of the clam-shell type, also referred to as an "orange peel" claw. Arm is also mechanically jettisonable for safety reasons.





1968-69 – Deepstar 2000 Diving Saucer by Westinghouse.

See Cousteau's earlier SP-350 here and Deepstar 4000 here.

See other early Underwater Robots here.

1962-65 – Deepstar 4000 Diving Saucer – Jacques-Yves Cousteau / Westinghouse (French/American)


Image source: Popular Mechanics, August 1963.

1962 – Deepstar 4000 Diving Saucer – Jacques-Yves Cousteau / Westinghouse launched in 1965.


26 Jun 1962-NEW YORK: William E. Knox, president of Westinghouse International, demonstrates the flexibility of a remote control arm, part of a unique deep-sea vehicle at a 6/26(/62) press conference. The new  self-propelled vehicle, to be named "Deepstar," which will be built by Westinghouse Electric, will give a three man crew the maneuverability needed to explore the "last frontier on earth." A cutaway drawing of the vehicle appears in the background.


Manipulator arm is folded away.

See 7:06 into video clip.


Source: Undersea Studies With The Deep Research Vehicle Deepstar-4000, March 1969

Manipulator and Bottom Sampling Devices
A single mechanical arm (Figure 61) with only three degrees of freedom can be installed in about three hours on DEEPSTAR. This arm weighs 15 pounds, has a maximum reach of 42 inches and can lift about 35 pounds. In most cases, due to the limited dexterity of the arm, the vehicle is manoeuvred in conjunction with the arm  to obtain a sample. A basket, which can extend from the port side of the vehicle, is used to store samples. At the outward end of the arm is an orange peel sampler. Experience showed that the sampler's fingers were often bent and forced out of alignment. A more rugged arm with increased dexterity would be far more effective and a variety of  hands or end samplers is also desirable.









Image source and for in-depth article see Popular Science, October 1962.









Initially the S.P. 4000, it was built in collaboration with Westinghouse and became the D.S. 4000, or Deepstar 4000.

Cousteau's futuristic designs were done by his long time friend, Jean Charles Roux. The above illustration being for the S.P. 4000 maquette in Expo 67, Montreal.


Expo '67, Montreal.

Image source: here



Tyrone_Daily_Herald_Fri__Jul_14__1967_ - Copy-x640

Source: Tyrone Daily Herald, Jul 14, 1967.

Related Patents:


Method of navigation for a submarine boat

This patent not so much describes Deepstar 4000 per se, but includes description on manoeuvring the vehicle that also effect the positioning of the manipulator arm. Further, the drawings includes a diagram of Deepstar 4000.

Publication number    US3169500 A
Publication type    Grant
Publication date    Feb 16, 1965
Filing date    Jul 13, 1962
Priority date    Jul 21, 1961
Inventors    Gagnan Emile, Alinat Jean, Cousteau Jacques Yves
Original Assignee    Spirotechnique

Manipulator apparatus

Publication number    US3400541 A
Publication type    Grant
Publication date    Sep 10, 1968
Filing date    Nov 23, 1966
Priority date    Nov 23, 1966
Also published as    DE1531286A1
Inventors    Lloyd Wayne B, Schlissler Earl R
Original Assignee    Westinghouse Electric Corp

Manipulator apparatus for use on undersea vehicles. An exterior-mounted multi-joint manipulator arm has a respective hydraulic actuator and electro-hydraulic flow control valve at each arm joint. Common hydraulic supply and return lines connect the several control valve to a sea-ambient pressure-compensated hydraulic supply-return system. Current regulating means at an operators station provides for operation of the control valves, and means are included for equalizing all hydraulic volumes within the system at sea-ambient-compensated pressures during de-activation of the apparatus.

Powered manipulators mounted on the exterior of the hull of space and undersea vehicles are employed for grasping and manipulating objects at the exterior under the control of an operator inside who has visual contact with the manipulator and the object to be grasped or manipulated. A typical manipulator to which the present invention relates is generally a simplified mechanical simulation of a human arm and includes the grasping means, mechanical arm sections, and pivot joints, corresponding grossly to wrist, elbow and shoulder joints. Power actuators, commonly hydraulic rotary actuators, are affiliated with the several pivot joints of the manipulator and the operator inside the hull in observance of such manipulator through such as a window in the hull, controls operation of the several rotary actuators to dictate movements of the manipulator to obtain operation of the mechanical hand. The ease and rapidity with which the task of controlling operation of the manipulator is accomplished is greatly affected by the type of control system provided for the several actuators embodied in such manipulator.

Presently, the most common control means for each of the several actuators is a three-position control valve with upon, the operator must initiate the rate of motion by operating the proper control valve in the proper direction, visually monitor the effect the valve operation is having on manipulator position and then consciously terminate the movement by suitable valve operation. With employment of such on-otf valve control, the result has been a fixed rate of speed of operation of a particular actuator, hence, particular rate of joint movement. The problem arising with fixed rate control is that a compromise must be reached between high speed operation of a given actuator (open for rapid slewing through wide angles) and low speed for fine control near the object to be grasped. As a result of this compromise, both rapid slewing and fine control are sacrificed in such conventional fixed-rate manipulator systems. This results in lost time in doing work with such a manipulator and increases the possibility of damage to the object to be grasped, or of damage to the manipulator.

Such conventional manipulators as employ on-off control valves mount such valves at a fixed location relative to the hull of the craft and remote from the actuators at the arms of the manipulator, and require an undue multiplicity of hydraulic lines of considerable length extending between the control valves and the actuators on the manipulator joints; two separate hydraulic lines being required for operation of each of the actuators so controlled by on-off selector valves. Such long lines tend to establish low resonant frequency conditions which introduce lags in response of the actuators to dictates of the control valves as well as pose a problem of suitable protection for all such lines during operation.

The on-off selector valves are usually of the poppet valve type which tends to introduce random and erratic high creep rates of the mnaipulator joints due to leak-by at the poppet valves which tend to become slightly unseated by particles of dirt which can accumulate on the seat.

Because of employment of such multiplicity of separate hydraulic lines between respective on-off selector valve devices and the actuators they control, these lines and actuator chambers to which they are connected tend to establish entrapped volumes of hydraulic fluid in lap position of the valves which can experience severe pressure changes at their exterior during ascent or descent of an undersea vehicle, which can cause implosion or explosion of hydraulic components as a result thereof.

In view of the foregoing remarks it is the prime object of the present invention to eliminate the above problems, either separately or collectively, i.e., to provide for adjusting the rate of operation of the manipulator joint actuators, to reduce the number of hydraulic lines employed for operation of the several actuators, to overcome the problem of implosion or explosion of hydraulic components during ascent or descent to and from great depths, to employ a control valve system which greatly reduces the tendency for leak-by within the valve responsible for creep of the actuators and manipulator joints, and to provide a simplification in construction and an increase in reliability and dexterity in performance of the system.

In general, the above object is obtained in the present invention by the provision of a manipulator apparatus which, in addition to the usual actuators mounted on the manipulator arm joints, also includes respective variable rate electro-hydraulic servo valves mounted directly on the manipulator arm sections. The servo valves have only two hydraulic lines common to all of such valves and which extend therefrom to a hydraulic power supply system located externally of the hull of the craft on which the manipulator is mounted; each servo valve being constructed to minimize leakage between the hydraulic lines to the actuator as well as to provide for establishing interconnection between all hydraulic ports, passages, lines, etc., in the actuator system, including the hydraulic power supply, whereby internal hydraulic pressure becomes equalized with the environmental pressure of the system by way of ambient-pressure-compensated hydraulic supply system. Operators control means disposed within the hull of the craft provides for electrical control of operation of the variable-rate electro-hydraulic servo valves by way of electrical lines passing through the hull of such craft.


Manipulator apparatus

Publication number    US3422965 A
Publication type    Grant
Publication date    Jan 21, 1969
Filing date    Feb 13, 1967
Priority date    Feb 13, 1967
Inventors    Lloyd Wayne B
Original Assignee    Westinghouse Electric Corp

ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE A master-slave manipulator apparatus useful on undersea vehicles in which a master arm inside the hull is actuable by an operator to effect corresponding movement of an exterior slave arm, without requiring control feedback from the slave arm, comprising multiple-pivot slave,
and master arms with hydraulic rotary actuators on the slave arm joints, an open-loop control system including electro-hydraulic flow-control servo valve devices on the slave arm for controlling rate of supply of hydraulic fluid to the actuators respectively, and means for producing respective control signals for the servo valves on the slave arm according to the angular velocity and acceleration between relatively movable parts of the master arm at each of its joints, the angular positions of such master arm parts with respect to a common reference, and the relationship between such conditions which affect gravity and inertia torque loads on the respective actuators of the slave arm.

The present invention relates to manipulator apparatus.

Background of the invention 1) The invention relates to hydraulically-operated master-slave manipulator arm apparatus suited for use on undersea vehicles.

(2) Previous attempts have been made to use the master-slave method of control to improve manipulator agility. At least one of these, having both position and force feedback, is almost unbelievably agile, but its master arms are bulky, the system is very complex and the mean time before failure tends to be short.

The conventional approach to master-slave control is by use of a closed position servo loop through use of a position pick-off mounted on each joint of the slave arm and used in conjunction with a companion pickoff on the control arm. This type of position slaving has the disadvantages of position pickotfs operating in the hostile environment and of many additional wires (from the pickoffs) passing through the pressure hull. Another disadvantage given for prior art master-slave manipulators with position feed-back is the snap-in effect, which is the alignment transient which can occur when the system is first turned on with an initial misalignment between the position of the master and slave arms.

In the case of undersea applications, the disadvantages mentioned above, along with that of higher cost, have largely prevented the use of master-slave manipulators.

Summary In view of the foregoing remarks, the present invention provides a master-slave manipulator apparatus which preserves the agility and maneuverability of this type of apparatus, but which overcomes the above objections to previous forms of such type by use of an open-loop control system which takes into consideration relationships at the master arm which affect gravity and inertia torque conditions of the slave arm.

Manipulator apparatus

Publication number    US3589134 A
Publication type    Grant
Publication date    Jun 29, 1971
Filing date    Oct 30, 1969
Priority date    Oct 30, 1969
Inventors    Hackmann Robert L, Hunt Donald W
Original Assignee    Westinghouse Electric Corp

1. Field of the Invention Manipulator arm assemblies and controls therefor.

2. Description of the Prior Art
Mechanical arms, sometimes referred to as manipulators, are very often used when a particular environment is too hostile or dangerous for a man's direct participation. The manipulators provide an extension of the human arm capability in addition to motions and capabilities not performable by a human.

A typical manipulator includes two or three pivotal arm sections the last of which carries a tool, cleaning brush, or some other terminal device such as a gripping mechanism, for performing a certain task. The terminal device is visually observed by an operator by means of direct observation or by a television system. In moving the terminal device to a desired location the operator uses a model of the manipulator served to the actual manipulator, or a puppet arrangement where control cables attached to the operators arm move the manipulator in a corresponding manner to the arm; these types of controls can be very fatiguing to the operator and in addition where response times are relatively slow the operator must make a move and then wait to see the response of the manipulator assembly and thereafter take any necessary corrective action. This move and wait technique greatly extends the time required to perform a given task. In a manipulator having three pivots and three arm sections if it is desired to move the terminal device along a line it is necessary for the operator to command at least three different pivot actuators. An under or over command requires corrective action of one or more pivots and the relatively simple task of moving in a straight line becomes an extremely complicated procedure.

It is therefore a primary object of the present invention to provide a control system for a manipulator apparatus which relieves the operator of cumbersome and detailed manual control for various desired line movements.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION A control system for manipulator assembly is provided which includes a plurality of actuators which in response to an input signal pivotally move the arm sections of the manipulator relative to one another. One of the actuators is commanded to move one of the arm sections and a positional orientation of the commanded arm section is sensed and the remaining actuators are provided with input signals to command them as a function of the positional orientation of the first arm section.
Manipulator arm

Publication number    US3610438 A
Publication type    Grant
Publication date    Oct 5, 1971
Filing date    Mar 16, 1970
Priority date    Mar 16, 1970
Also published as    DE2112066A1
Inventors    Opdahl Everett W
Original Assignee    Westinghouse Electric Corp

ABSTRACT: A manipulator arm is exemplified which employs externally at its joint a pair of parallel actuator links extending longitudinally between pivotal connections on adjacent rounded arm section ends that are coupled together for rolling motion of one of such ends on the other. Rotary actuation of the links about the pivotal connection on one arm section causes a greater rotary movement of the other  section about such connection. Control and/or actuator lines extend longitudinally inside the arm; interconnected at the arm section joints via flexible sections snaked between the actuating links for constant length at all angular joint positions.

1. Field of the Invention
Manipulator arms suited for use on undersea vehicles.

2. Description of the Prior Art
It is common practice in manipulator arm constructions for undersea use to employ a fork fitting or offset hinge at the arm section joints. In either case, it is difficult to pass control and/or actuator lines through the joints. If the lines are run externally, they are susceptible to damage or snagging unless shrouded, which is difficult to achieve.

In order to obtain joint motions in excess of 90deg, rotary type hydraulic actuators have been employed, which are located directly at the pivot axes of the joints. This type of actuator installation also inhibits the passage of control and/or actuator lines therethrough.

Arm joint constructions which permit one arm section to fold back against another, heretofore have been difficult if not impossible to attain. A result has been that the degree of compaction of the arms during stowage has been undesirably limited, hence the arm storage demanded has been greater than desirable.

In certain existing arm joint constructions, actuators become exposed and/or protrude when the arm assumes a folded position. This makes them susceptible to damage when stowed externally of the vehicle and/or increases stowage volume requirements.

Still further, certain existing arm joint constructions result in inefficient use of their structural components, hence tend to contribute to increased weight due to larger size required to compensate for the inefficiency.

For light duty manipulators, it is desirable to locate the actuators at the shoulder arm section rather than at the joint being driven, since this reduces the parasitic weight which the arm must lift during its operation. It is difficult to provide for such remote actuation of the joints in previous arm constructions.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The present invention, in providing a manipulator arm construction in which the ends of arm sections at the joints are caused to roll about the ends of adjacent arm sections by angular movement of one end of pairs of actuator links disposed at opposite sides of the exterior of such arm, opportunity is afforded for readily overcoming the limitations of the prior art set forth in the preceding description of such prior art.

The externally situated actuator links, being pivotally connected at one end to one arm section and at its other end to the adjacent arm section affords longitudinal space between the two pivot locations to accommodate extension of S-shaped flexible control and/or actuator line sections that transfers itself by bending progressively onto one or the other arm section end without changing length during angular movement at the arm joints in one direction or the other. With the actuator links being disposed along the exterior of the arms at the joints, disposition of such lines within their protective confines is afforded.

By virtue of the rolling motion of one arm section end over the end of the adjacent arm section, angulation of the one section relative to the other to the extent of 180deg for foldback is readily obtainable, and by virtue of obtaining such rolling motion by the turning of one end of the respective actuator link pair to obtain a multiplication of the resultant arm section movement, efficient use of rotary input motion is obtained.

By virtue of longitudinal separation between the input axis about which the rotary input motion occurs and the axis on which the actuated arm section turns, considerable choice of input motion actuator is afforded, including a hydraulic rotary actuator coaxial with such input axis, a local reciprocating piston actuator crank-arm-connected at such input axis, a remote actuator connected via cables in the arm to crank arms at such input axis, etc.

See Cousteau's earlier SP-350 here.

See other early Underwater Robots here.

1953 – Westinghouse Robotian-like Costume Figure – Ernest Walling (American)

ROBOTIAN-LIKE COSTUMED FIGURE – Ernest Walling – see full patent design here.

Patent number: D171959
Filing date: May 27, 1953
Issue date: Apr 1954

It looks as if it was easier for Westinghouse to use people inside Robot costumes going forward. The old robots Vocalite, Elektro, were getting on and probably costly to run.

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1940 – Sparko the Robot Dog – (American)

Most likely the prototype Sparko, as distinguished by the dents and course finish of the side of his body, unless he's undergone some damage somehow. 

Its been suggested by others that Sparko only moved his hind legs, and that his front 'paws' were rollers.  From photographic evidence, I believe Sparko was built faithful to the diagram above, as there are the slots giving room for a walking motion, plus the picture below which shows Sparko mid-gait with one leg raised. I will concede, though, that from around 1942 onwards, I cannot see one image of Sparko where his front legs are not parallel. Maybe the walking action of the front legs was disabled.

I have seen claims of Sparko's demise by being run over when attracted to car lights. Sadly, this has beome a misinformed meme. I've included the original source to this idea here:

"Thinking by Machine", De Latil 1953: p241

Another "electrical dog" [RH: i.e. not “Philidog” in the context of the original article] was to be shown at the New York World Fair of 1939; it was to be sensitive to heat and was to have attacked visitors and bitten their calves, but just before the opening of the exhibition it died, the victim of its own sensitivity. Through an open door it perceived the lights of a passing car and rushed headlong towards it and was run over, despite the efforts of the driver to avoid it.

Sparko didn't join Electro until 1940, and was not phototropic i.e.not attracted to lights.  The "electric dog" in De Latil's article is another, unknown dog altogether.

The above image shows Barnett, the creator of Elektro, with his daughter Mary Lou astride Sparko.

"Barney" Barnett with Sparko. Note Sparko's front legs showing partial stride, although he is sitting on his back legs.

J. M. Barrett, Elektro's inventor, seen with his new creation, Sparko the dog. May 19, 1940.

Sparko with Miss Jean Prust Apr 14, 1941. [Electric Living Show, Chicago]

Sparko was designed by Don Lee Hadley to be a companion to Westinghouse's Elektro at the 1939 World's Fair. It was modelled after Hadley's own Scotty dog.

There were three dogs made. The prototype, one for Elektro, and one for Willie Vocalite.

Sparko was operated the same way as Elektro. See the Elektro post for the details on this aspect here.

Sparko's act:

Sparko stands at the rear of the stage. The command circuits now connected to him and not Elektro. He is activacted with the usual start up sequence (3-1-2) "Hey,..Spar..ko,……it's(1)……your..turn.(2)". Note: the Operator had to be careful with the letter "s", as any s-s-s sibilance would be picked up electrically as multiple impulses.
The dog walked forward about five steps and stopped.
The operator tensaid, "Now..Spar..ko(3)……do(1)……your..tricks.(2)" Again the same 3-1-2 sequence to activate the next command. The dog barked, sat down, sat up and begged, turned his head, returned to sit, then turned his head and barked once, as if to say "How did I do, Master?". This usually ended the show for both Sparko and Elektro.

Elektro and Sparko in Chicago, 1955.

Video clip

See Elektro (called "Barney" in this clip) and Sparko 1min 17sec into this clip. Thanks to David Buckley for locating this for me.

Scott Schaut's excellent book on Westinghouse robots ("Robots of Westinghouse – 1924 – today", 2006)  gives a lot of detail and more pics which I won't include in this post.

See all the known early Humanoid Robots including the Westinghouse Robots here.


1937 – Elektro – Joseph M. Barnett (American)



Colour photo of Elektro at the 1939-40 World's Fair held in New York.


ELEKTRO- "the Moto-Man
This 260-lb. mechanical man at the New York World's Fair 1939 walks, talks, smokes, and selects colors! His anatomy includes an "electric eye," 48 relays, 11 motors, a microphone, grid-glow tube, and amplifiers.
THIS mighty automaton is never brain-weary because his brain lobes are 48 electrical relays. These devices do all the thinking for him; he merely obeys their promptings which are delivered through his nervous system of motors, levers, gears and chains. His spinal column is made of wire, and there's enough of it wound around his coils to encircle the world at the equator. His name?— "Elektro." He's "A Latin from . . . ." —Pittsburgh!
He stands 7 ft. high in his aluminum feet and has an 82-inch chest expansion. His chest, however, is always expanded because, like the rest of his body, it is made of aluminum over a steel frame. His feet are 18 inches long and half as broad. His food he takes from the nearest light socket, for Elektro is an electrical robot. He's the Westinghouse "Moto-Man."
All told, Elektro has a bag of 26 tricks. He not only walks forward, but he can back up just as readily. He bows his head as prettily as a debutante or turns it 45 degrees in either direction to gape like a rowdy. If in the mood, he will bring either hand up to his face in a patriotic salute, and if properly coached he will raise his hands and count on his fingers, bending them one at a time in approved finger-counting style.
Elektro's favorite colors are red and green. As a matter of fact, they are the only colors he sees, and when they are flashed with a light before his eyes he speaks out "red" or "green" as the case may be.
However, Elektro is at his prodigious best when it comes to smoking. He not only puffs and inhales, but he blows the smoke in billows from both nostrils.
But frankly Elektro is a dullard by comparison with any man, and he can never hope to compete with human intelligence and muscular control. There are 292 different muscles in the human body, capable in combination of producing unestimated thousands of different movements beyond the 500 most elementary motions. On the basis of Elektro's 260-pound weight and 26 tricks, he requires about 10 pounds for every motion.
Elektro's "brain" weighs approximately 60 pounds and occupies more than 4 cubic feet of space outside the robot's body. The "brain" or control unit includes an "electric eye," 48 electric relays and signal lights, in addition to the controlling photo-electric cell. According to J. M. Barnett, the inventor of the Westinghouse "Moto-man," the "brain" alone would have to contain 1,026 electric relays in order to "think" for a robot capable of duplicating the 500 elementary human motions. It would then weigh nearly half a ton, and occupy about 108 cu. ft. of space! He is "bossed" by human commands spoken softly into a microphone, jumps to obey, although there is no visible connection between the microphone and the robot.
Spoken words set up vibrations which are converted into electrical waves by a grid-glow tube. The electric impulse then lifts a shutter in front of an electric lamp and sends a flash of light across the room to a photoelectric tube or "electric eye" in the control unit (not shown) which serves as Elektro's brain.
The "electric eye" acts as a sensory nerve. It receives the light command, translates it into a feeble electric current which is amplified and sent on to the bank of relays. The relays, which operate on the same magnetic principle that makes the front door bell ring, close and open electric circuits to start Elektro's motors turning.
Talking to Elektro is like dialing an automatic telephone, using light impulses instead of numbers to cause the relays to act. It makes no difference what words are used to give the command so long as the proper number of light impulses are produced.
One word or impulse places a series of relays in position to act. Two words close the electrical circuit and release current to the motors employed in any particular movement of the robot. Three words activate relays to stop Elektro, and 4 words bring all of the relays back to their normal position of rest.
Signal lights on the control panel inform the operator which movement of the robot is next in sequence. By speaking single words or a series of words properly spaced, the operator can cause the relays to skip over any number of these "points of motion." When the light flashes over the desired "point of motion" on the control panel, a 2-word command will start the proper relay.
Just as the "electric eye" converts light waves into electric currents to put life into the robot, two other "electric eyes" enable it to discern colors. These photoelectric cells are placed directly back of Elektro's glass eye. A filter in front of one tube lets only the relatively hot rays from red light through to the cell. A filter in front of the other tube permits only the relatively cool heat waves of green light to reach the tube. When the proper lights are flashed in Elektro's eyes, one or the other of these "electric
eyes" energizes a relay to start a record revolving on a turntable to produce the word —"red" or "green."
Electro's walking is accomplished by of 4 rubber rollers under each foot which are driven by chains and shafts connected to a motor in the middle of the automaton. Nine motors are required to operate the fingers, arms, head and turntables for talking. Another small motor works the bellows for Elektro's smoking.
Like some radio programs, Elektro does his talking by means of transcriptions. His speech usually lasts about 1 minute and uses only 75 words. He has 8 turntables, each of which could be used to give 10-minute talks. Actually, except for an opening talk of about a minute, his other speeches will be only a few seconds long. A solenoid (a tubular coil) activated by electrical impulses in proportion to the harshness or softness of spoken words makes Elektro's aluminum lips move in rhythm to his speech-making.

Automatons have indeed come a long way since Aristotle speculated upon the possibility of making mechanical men. Elektro's direct forebear is Willie Vocalite, a robot developed a few years ago in the Westinghouse research laboratories. Willie is voice-operated and can stand up and sit down, but he can't walk. Their common ancestor was named Televox, hut he responded only to sounds transmitted by telephone wires and went through life without an "electric eye."
These are actors on the stage of electrical living. The scientific principles which they dramatize are already quietly at work in industry. The Televox has now supplemented supervisory control in power transmission systems, enabling the system dispatcher to reroute the supply of electricity when a power line has been damaged. The "electric eye" and relays are employed in countless tasks of sorting, counting, and regulating, freeing human hands from monotonous and dangerous tasks. The sole reason for making Elektro was to dramatize the action of these sensitive electrical devices.

Elektro at the World's Fair. The start of a smoking habit. It's always a woman tempting him.

Elektro with Sparko.

Post card from 1956.  Its the only mention of an especially built piano for Elektro that I'm aware of.

    Elektro and Sparko did a lot of hospital visiting.   

Like his predecessors, most of the electronics were located off-stage.

above: Happy family: Elektro, Sparko and their creator, Barney Barnett.

above: John Angel was the operator of Elektro in 1949.

It was said that Operators of Elektro had to clean out the cigarette tar from the tubing at the end of each performance, putting them off from smoking.

above: "Hi, pal!" says Mr. Elektro to J. M. Barnett, his creator. Three years were spent perfecting the mechanism which performs 36 tricks for visitors at the New York World's Fair 1939.

"Oil on the knee" is Mr. Elektro's affliction, but it is also an aid to his locomotion. Elektro's walking mechanism is given the once-over.

Elektro with Jean Dowling in 1954.

An attempt to get Elektro off smoking. The balloon trick was a later addition from 1941.

Elektro and Sparko in Chicago, 1955.

above: After some time in retirement, Elektro was shipped to Westinghouse's pavillion for Pacific Ocean Park in 1957 for the official opening in 1958. He was painted silver and had the chest hole squared off. He wasn't there long before becoming a movie star in "Sex Kittens" (see below).

"Sam Thinko" (Sequential Auxilliary Modulator) from "Sex Kittens Go to College". The motors to Elektro's legs had gone by this stage. See trailer clip here.

below: As he is today (2004)

see Jack Weeks archive with photos here.

A Japanese copy made for the now defunct Robot Museum in Nagoya, Japan. 2007.

Scott Schaut's excellent book on Westinghouse robots ("Robots of Westinghouse – 1924 – today", 2006)  gives a lot of detail and more pics which I wont include in this post.

For VIDEO CLIPS – see here , here and here.

Here is a description of how the Operator interacts with Elektro. It is based on the video clip of Elektro at the 1939 World's Fair in New York.

Operator: "And so, Ladies and Gentlemen,  with a great deal of pride and pleasure I present to you Elektro – the Westinghouse Moto-Man."

He puts the handset mouthpiece to his mouth and says, "Elektro ..(takes handset away for a second, then back up to his mouth again.

"Come…Here…" (as two distinct words with a slight pause between them. You cannot see the lamp inside Elektro's chest at this time.) You can here the humming sound of  the motors as Elektro starts to move forward. He is actually being guided on a track embedded in the stage. The track ends in a turntable.

With the handset away from his mouth, he says, "And here he comes, Ladies and Gentlemen, walking up to greet you under his own power."

Once Elektro reaches the turntable some seconds later (or ~3 steps), the Operator holds the handset to his mouth again and says,"Stop."
Now on the turntable, the Operator manually rotates him to front the audience.

With the handset away from his mouth, the Operator says, "You see, all I need to do is speak into this phone, and Elektro does exactly what I tell him to do, some times."
He continues , " but I don't see why I'm telling Elektro's story when he's perfectly able to tell his own. So let's listen and see what Elektro has to say to us today. All right Elektro.." Now the handset is place to the Operators mouth.

" (three syllables)…. your(one syllable)…. story..please?(two syllables"  Note: The 6-impulse vvoic ccode (3-1-2 wus o start all of Elekto's "tricks".
The handset is now taken away.
Elektro: "Who..  me..?" Note: there is a pause in Elekto's pre-recording that allows time fo the Opeator's response.
Operator:  "Yes, you."
Elektro: "OK, toots." (gets a laugh from the crowd. A lot of the time it was a female presenting, so the script was not for a male Operator.)
Elektro: (in a now classic "robotic" monotonic, monosyllabic voice) "Ladies and Gentlemen, I'll be very glad to tell my story. I am a smart fellow as I have a very fine brain of 48 electrical relays. It works just like a telephone switchboard. If I get a wrong number, I can always blame the Operator…"
Operator: "Thank you".  Gets a laugh from the crowd.
Elektro: "And by the way, I see a lot of good numbers out in our audiance today. (another laugh from the crowd).
Operator: "Elektro, behave yourself!"
Elektro: "Quiet please, I'm doing the talking!"
Operator: "I'm sorry. (break in film clip and Elektro now has his right hand raised to his face.) Now Elektro, a moment ago you were bragging about being able to count on your fingers. Do you remember that? Well we're going to find out about that. Now, do you remember how many children were born at the same time to a certain family up in Campbell?. Do you remember that? All right, let's see if you do."
One can now see the lamp inside of Elektro's chest, indicating each syllable signal when flashed.

"Count..them..on (lamp flashes 3 times – once per syllable) ….your(single flash)…. right hand.(two flashes)" Note: Again, this is the (3-1-2) code used to start any of Elektro's "tricks".

With the handset away from his mouth, the Operator counts the movement of each finger, from the little finger to the thumb), "one , two, three, four," and just before uttering the next word, the Operator places the handset to his mouth and says, "five. (a single flash)"

Note: A single impulse is used to stop any command. In this case, there is a rotary motor-driven cam inside of Elektro's hand that, via a lever, pulls a cable that bends each finger in turn. This would repeat until Elektro was commanded to stop.

The handset is lowered.

Operator: "Five. Well that's absolutely correct."
(another cut in the film clip – hand is now lowered)

Operator: "Alright now Elektro, I know you enjoy these and I'm really going to try give

you a nice pleasure out of these, so here you are." 
Operator places cigarette in Elektro's mouth – actually a hole in Elektro's upper lip.

Operator: "You got that? Now hold onto them."
Operator places the handset to his mouth, "You flashes)……this..cigarette(two flashes)…….go..on(two flashes)." The handset is put down.

Operator: "Oh, yes, Elektro, you need a light don't you? Here you are." and he lights the cigarette and you can see the cigarette smoke coming out of his nostrils.

"And folks, he's only two years old, too, just learning." (referring to Elektro's smoking action).


New and old memorabilia

Trivia:  I have not, to date, seen any Westinghouse publicity information calling Elektro et al "Robots". They are largely referred to as a "Mechanican Man", "Moto-Man" in Elektro's case, or "Electronic Dog" in Sparko's case.

See all the known early Westinghouse and other Humanoid Robots here.


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