As underwater vehicles are moving into an increasingly all-electric future, a seven-function all-electric work-class manipulator has been developed.

This breakthrough from Saab Seaeye in the UK heralds a significant advance in underwater robotic technology in the growing electric tooling and vehicle market.

The all-electric work-class seven-function manipulator introduces an equally powerful, more precise and more intelligent manipulator than the hydraulic equivalent currently being used on work class ROVs today.

Its innovative control system enables both manual and automated control, with the potential for full autonomy in the future.

Millimetre precision comes from each of the seven joint modules having its own self-contained smart distributed microprocessor for intelligent, intuitive and precise arm control.

This, says Saab Seaeye, brings exacting, repeatable, precision which can predict limb motion paths for self-collision avoidance, adjusts movement requests to meet available power and collates joint data for unified control.

The combined lift capacity and range of motion is claimed to exceed that of any manipulator on the market, along with its superior accuracy, precise repeatability, high-resolution force and position feedback for greater arm control and path planning.

Included in the design is an adaptable power input system with advanced power management to limit peaks in power demand and manage regenerative loads.

Tested through many million cycles, the titanium built electric manipulator’s planned reliability is set to reduce operating costs over hydraulic systems.

The electric manipulator’s intuitive control simplifies use of the manipulator by mimicking the movement of the master arm. Algorithms also predict and manage movement at each joint.

Designed to be future friendly – including the potential for interchanging the jaws with other tools – the electric manipulator’s advanced technology will enable the transition from manual control to supervised autonomy with advanced perception systems, towards full autonomy.

As the underwater world moves towards an all-electric future, an ecologically friendly, significantly oil-free, all-electric system is expected to have wide appeal.

By Jake Frith

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