Machine Design

Scanning for Ideas: Mobile Manipulator Gives a Lift

Handling heavy equipment can lead to injuries.

To reduce the number of those injuries, researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health developed a Mobile Manipulator in their Spokane Research Lab. It features self-propulsion, a turret-mounted load-handling arm, automatic leveling, and self-contained pressurized fluid and controls. The arm uses mechanical weight sensing and balancing, giving the operator smooth feedback.

It keeps the load balanced even when the device is moving. The manipulator weighs 2,500 lb and can lift 600 lb. The drive is hydraulic, but controls are pneumatic. It can travel at up to 2 mph and climb 15% grades. It is being manufactured by the Positech Div. of American Handling Systems, Laurens, IA (

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