perm filename VICARM[1,VDS] blob sn#069515 filedate 1973-10-30 generic text, type T, neo UTF8
00010	\\M1BDR25;\M2SIGN57;\M3NGR25;\M4BDR25X;\M5BDJ25;
00100	\F2\CVICARM
00200	\F3\C154 East Dana Street
00300	\F3\CMountain View, Ca. 94041
00800	\F1\J	VICARM has officially been a corporation for  5  months  now.
00900	The  company  has  been leasing facilities for 3 months and accepting
01000	selected orders for deliveries of  completed  systems  for  almost  2
01100	months.
01300		There  have  been  many questions regarding the nature of the
01400	company, the company's products and future products. In this paper  I
01500	will  attempt  to  answer  some  of these questions and explain a bit
01600	about the basics behind VICARM.
01800		I  have  been  associated  with   the   Stanford   University
01900	Artificial  Intelligence  Project  for  over  5 years.      This is a
02000	government sponsored research project, administered by the University
02100	and  the  Computer Science Department of the University.  I have been
02200	most directly connected with the Hand-Eye section of the project.  In
02300	brief,  our  goals have been to develop computer controlled automatic
02400	systems to perform human type functions. Towards that  end,  we  have
02500	created  a  basic  system which consists of a large computer, several
02600	smaller computers, some computer controlled mechanical  manipulators,
02700	and television camera visual input devices. With this mechanical arm,
02800	television camera eye and computer brain system we have been able  to
02900	perform   human  type  functions  such  as  the  assembly  of  simple
03000	mechanical devices from a collection of  parts,  or  the  sorting  of
03100	different  objects into stacks or piles when a pile of mixed items is
03200	presented to the system.  In many cases, the mechanical arm  is  used
03300	without  the  television  system,  for  with  touch sensing and force
03400	feedback from the arm to the computer, many tasks  can  be  performed
03500	without the need for vision.     An example of this is the assembling
03600	of an automobile waterpump from an  assortment  of  parts  which  are
03700	placed in an approximately known location, as might be done in a real
03800	assembly situation when parts are removed from a stack or lifted from
03900	a shipping container.
04100		In  any  event,  the  results  to  date  show  that  the true
04200	artificially intelligent robot system will be working on the assembly
04300	lines before too long.
04500		My  particular  connection  with this project has been in the
04600	area of the development of these computer controlled manipulators.  I
04700	will  now  give  you  a  few  details  on  the  type of device we are
04800	presently using.      This manipulator is a 6 degree of  freedom  all
04900	electric motor powered mechanical device which is directly controlled
05000	by the computer.       The arm can move  any  number  or  all  joints
05100	simultaneously  to  perform  manipulative  motions  in six coordinate
05200	space.    Thus, the basic manipulator can place its  terminal  device
05300	at  any  given  point  in space, with a given orientation, so long as
05400	that point is within the workspace (range) of the  arm.     How  does
05500	this  happen.      Commands  to  the arm programs in the computer are
05600	inputed in one or more of several ways.  In the simplest fashion,  an
05700	operator  can  grab the arm and manually lead it through a task.  The
05800	operator can also input position commands  directly  to  the  program
05900	through   the   computer  keyboard  interface.   As  a  third  sample
06000	alternative, the arm can get its commands from a  television  camera,
06100	pattern  recognition  program  which searches television scenes for a
06200	desired object or pattern and then can call the arm program to direct
06300	it  to  an  area  of  interest.    In  any event the basic pattern of
06400	operation is to make minimum use of a human operator through the  use
06500	of sophisticated control programs.
06700		Recently,  with  the  growing  interest  in mechanization and
06800	automation, other groups and organizations have become interested  in
06900	these  artificially  intelligent  systems  as  a  means of increasing
07000	productivity, and reducing labor needs. Presently, there are a number
07100	of supposed "robot" devices operating in industry.   The most notable
07200	is the Unimate, manufactured by Unimation Corp.       Several hundred
07300	of  these  devices  are  used  in  a  number of different industries,
07400	especially the automobile assembly lines where they  can  be  rapidly
07500	programmed  to  move  over  a  continuously  repeating  pattern where
07600	conditions from part to part do not change.     Obviously,  the  next
07700	step is to employ the more adaptable system I have described in brief
07800	detail above.   This is where VICARM comes into the picture.
08000		As a developer of these manipulators, which are sophisticated
08100	multidegree  of  freedom servo systems, heavily dependent on computer
08200	control for their high performance, I have been asked  by  others  to
08300	make available details of my developments. It seems that there is now
08400	a market for such devices.      Initially, these manipulators will be
08500	used  by research organizations such as universities and the research
08600	laboratories of the government and  large  corporations  who  already
08700	have  the required computers.     But eventually, with the decreasing
08800	cost of the  mini-computer,  and  ready  access  to  large  timeshare
08900	computers,   these   artificially  intelligent  systems  will  appeal
09000	directly to  manufacturing  firms,  and  organizations  which  employ
09100	manual type task performing personnel. This can even include a use in
09200	the average household as a system to perform routine household chores
09300	under the direction of the inhabitants.
09500		Agreed,  some  of the possible applications are still far off
09600	but even these far off tasks will grow closer to  realization  at  an
09700	increasingly greater rate as the number of research systems increases.
09900		What  role  does  VICARM play in this picture at the present?
10000	With the increasing interest in robot systems, I have created  VICARM
10100	to  manufacture  and  sell  copies  of  the  two  computer controlled
10200	manipulators I have developed over the past 5 years.   The larger  of
10300	the  two  is  the  device  which  is  currently operating at Stanford
10400	University (there  are  3  complete  arms  there,  with  2  operating
10500	together in a two arm prototype system). This arm has a 10 lb.   load
10600	capacity and a 40 inch maximum reach.  Under computer control, it can
10700	servo from any one point to any other point in its range in less than
10800	2 seconds.     In addition, it can sense and exert controlled forces,
10900	it  can sense touch, and can accomodate constraining trajectories. As
11000	an example, the robot system can write its name on a sheet of  paper,
11100	holding  an  ordinary pen which it can pick up off a table.  It first
11200	finds the pen either by looking for it or feeling around and  sensing
11300	it by touch, then picks it up, orients it, presses the pen tip to the
11400	paper with a constant  force  and  performs  the  controlled  motions
11500	required to create the letters of its name.
11700		This arm, labeled either the "Scheinman Arm" or the "Stanford
11800	Arm", is now being manufactured and marketed by VICARM in conjunction
11900	with  the  Dest  Data Corporation, of Sunnyvale ,Ca. Our first arm is
12000	scheduled for delivery to the Stanford Research  Institute  by  about
12100	Nov.    15.     It  sells  for  about  $18,000 with a hand and driver
12200	electronics.  Not included is the computer and the software necessary
12300	for  control.    SRI will hook this arm up to their Digital Equipment
12400	Corporation PDP-10 computer for use  in  their  industrial-automation
12500	project  which  has  heavy funding from some of the country's largest
12600	manufacturing organizations, including Ford,  GM,  General  Electric,
12700	and  Dow  Chemical.    The National Bureau of Standards has expressed
12800	interest in a couple of arms (they come  in  right  and  left  handed
12900	versions  for  multiple arm tasks), and so we are awaiting a response
13000	to our quotation.  The agreement with the Dest Data Corp.   was  made
13100	to expedite delivery of the first arm to SRI, and although they are a
13200	progressive young company of 50 plus  employees  manufacturing  servo
13300	system  oriented,  electromechanical,  computer  related systems, the
13400	agreement is not ironclad, as regards future business.
13600		The second manipulator being marketed is  called  the  M.I.T.
13700	arm  because it was designed by me while at M.I.T. for five months in
13800	1972, as an  invited  researcher  of  their  Artificial  Intelligence
13900	Project.    This  arm  is  a small device, developed to be a desk top
14000	manipulator for use as part of  a  "mini-robot"  system.    The  same
14100	ingredients  are  there,  only  the  scale is reduced in an effort to
14200	appeal to small size types of tasks, such as  small  device  assembly
14300	(i.e.-   camera  assembly),  or  delicate  operative  tasks  such  as
14400	performing medical examinations or operations remotely. In  addition,
14500	the  small  size  of the arm and related eye system, and the use of a
14600	mini-computer control unit makes this  arm  very  attractive  to  the
14700	group  which  does  not  want  to  spend  too much money getting into
14800	artificial intelligence research.     The M.I.T.   arm  is  presently
14900	being  manufactured  and marketed solely by VICARM.  The first 3 arms
15000	(at least 3 but as many as 5 ) will be delivered to M.I.T.  One  more
15100	arm  will  go to SRI, but the company has refused to accept any other
15200	firm delivery commitments for these small arms until the first  batch
15300	is operating properly.  This batch does include the arm to SRI.  This
15400	is a different group which has a General Data- Nova computer and  the
15500	application will involve use of the arm in a man-machine system where
15600	the human operator makes decisions and controls the arm with the  aid
15700	of  the  computer which provides several aids, such as interpreting a
15800	simple joystick motion or providing realistic touch  or  force  sense
15900	feedback,  or performing macro operations on command (a typical macro
16000	is "screw", in which a few parameters  define  the  location  of  the
16100	screw  and the desired tightening torque- the computer and arm do the
16200	rest).
16400		Delivery of the arms to M.I.T. will begin about Nov.  15  (by
16500	the  way,  M.I.T.        will  be  running  these  arms with a PDP-11
16600	mini-computer).    SRI is scheduled to get  their  M.I.T.  model  arm
16700	around  January  1,  1974.   The  initial  price of this arm is about
16800	$4,000 including a hand and driver electronics.  This  low  price  is
16900	based  on  the  anticipated sale of a large number of this model arm,
17000	and thus it will be produced in quantity.   Sales of about 25 arms of
17100	this  size  are  expected  during  the  next year.   No doubt, as the
17200	availability of software increases, so will the demand for arms.  The
17300	tabletop A-I lab is nearing reality!
17500		At this point I should mention the role SRI is playing in the
17600	picture.    They have an ongoing A.I. project funded by the same good
17700	people  who  fund the Stanford University A.I. project. Many of their
17800	staff people come from Stanford, and as such  are  in  close  contact
17900	with  progress  there.           Thus  their  immediate  interest  is
18000	understandable.   I have a close working arrangement with a number of
18100	the  people  at  SRI and so the placement of these first arms at SRI,
18200	near to VICARM will be of mutual benefit.  SRI  will  get  close  and
18300	prompt  attention to arm problems, and VICARM will get easy access to
18400	the results of their research, and lots of helpful feedback.
18600		VICARM will not only manufacture arms, in  fact,  it  is  not
18700	anticipated  that  these two initial products will be the main source
18800	of income or profit to  the  company.        Being  an  engineer  and
18900	researcher  rather  than a manufacturing genius, or super salesman, I
19000	would rather sell the basic arm  at  an  attractive  price  and  then
19100	concentrate  my talent on a line of desirable accessories.   Adaption
19200	has long been a major problem  in  massive  use  of  general  purpose
19300	devices  in  industry.      Special hands, mounts, sensors, controls,
19400	all seem to be required for any particular situation.    The cost  of
19500	these  specials  frequently rules out the implementation of a general
19600	purpose system.    VICARM will concentrate its efforts on supplying a
19700	versatile  line  of accessory devices, such as different hands, force
19800	sensors, tactile sensors, servoed camera turrets, servoed  turntables
19900	or  conveyors and also a line of high performance servo products such
20000	as high performance motors and drivers, brakes and  gearboxes,  which
20100	are  a  result of the development efforts expended in the manufacture
20200	of the basic arm. With these other product lines, all  outgrowths  of
20300	the  basic  arm  (and  let's not forget that software development and
20400	programs also represent commercial possibilities) the company  has  a
20500	broad  future  ahead,  based  on  the  growing  demands  for computer
20600	controlled hardware systems.
20800		I hope that this outline of some history, the present company
20900	status,  and  some  future  company  goals  gives a better picture of
21000	VICARM and the place and function of VICARM in the world scene.\.
21300	\F5\CVic Scheinman
21400	\CPresident