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Technology: Remote-controlled crane is handy with a chain saw

作者:屠昼亓    发布时间:2019-03-02 04:04:06    

By ANDY COGHLAN This ungainly contraption of wire and tube is a 2-metre prototype robot crane capable of performing a multitude of precision tasks by remote control. A larger 6-metre prototype, developed by James Albus and colleagues at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Maryland, has demonstrated its dexterity by wielding a chain saw to make cuts in a log accurate to 3 millimetres. Its abilities range from sawing and drilling to excavating and spray painting. Albus says that the 6-metre prototype can lift five times its own weight and, uniquely, can manipulate tools in three dimensions (up and down, forward and backward, left and right) as well as rotating them about three perpendicular axes (pitch, roll and yaw). Conventional cranes are seldom able to lift more than their own weight and can only move loads up and down. The frame of the crane, known as the ‘spider’, consists of three triangular supports, apex-down, which are joined at the top to form another triangle that serves as a gantry. Six cables, each operated by a separate winch, run from the gantry to a triangular plate at the centre of the spider. Two cables connect to each corner of the plate. Tools such as a chain saw or an excavator can be attached to the plate. An operator controls the orientation of the plate by remote control, using a joystick. A computer translates the movements of the joystick into precise movements of the winches to pull the plate into the required orientation. To make the 2-metre prototype able to move, Albus mounted each support on a tracked vehicle. A tiltable 3-metre-long neck carries cameras for surveying nearby terrain. Albus expects the crane to be used in manufacturing industry. But as it can be controlled from afar, it is ideal for hazardous situations such as capping oil-wells and deep-sea mining,

 

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