"cause you only needed the arm right?"
Seriously RIP. Another one who changed the world
Victor Scheinman, whose 1960s work in robotics created the “robot factory” we see today, has died in California aged 73. News of Scheinman's death was first reported by the New York Times. Scheinman's university invention, known as the “Stanford arm”, achieved something never before achieved in the world of robotics: a self- …
Likewise, 'twas on the university PUMA560 as a postgrad student that I started learning all about the joys of path planning, co-ordinated motion (IIRC - whatever it was called that defined whether or not the endpoint moved in a straight line between points A and B, or whether it moved along whatever path was defined by the joints moving the least amount in order to get there) etc. Not quite as glamorous as the big hulking orange beast of a Kuka sat next to it in the lab, but nice and easy to work with, and with rather less ability to tear up the lab if it all went a bit pearshaped...
The limitations of its controller were also responsible for the path my career has taken me - before I started working with the PUMA I'd never designed a PCB or written any embedded code (hadn't even written any C - the uni still taught its engineering students a mixture of Pascal and 68k asm), but when I realised I couldn't get the thing to move in quite the ways my research needed it to, I started designing my own custom joint control cards to replace the native ones. Ended up getting so engrossed in the hands-on engineering this side of my research required, I never quite got around to finishing off the more theoretical side required to get any sort of qualification out of it. OTOH, the hardware and firmware skills I taught myself went a long way to securing my first job in the real world of embedded systems development, and I haven't looked back since.
As soon as I saw the pic at the top of the article all those fond memories came flooding back to me, and then as I wrote the above text I realised for the first time just how pivotal the PUMA was in determining how my life has turned out. So definitely a +1 from me too.
... this obituary did not feature more prominently on The Register web site. Only five (now six) comments.
I can recall the first day that I saw a PUMA and the impression it made that here was an idea and an execution of the idea that was exceptional. It clearly was "the future" and it wasn't long before PUMA influenced robots became the expected way of working. Production engineering in the pharmaceutical business that I worked for in the 80s rapidly moved from long lines of workbenches with people picking up containers and packing them into boxes to a full automated system that did not make random errors. This was a huge improvement in the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals. Humans do not make mistakes consistently hence there's a high chance that complex packing jobs will have difficult to detect packing errors. As one of our engineers commented, "At least with a robot if a human being provides the wrong material to pack the same mistake is made hundreds of times and even the worst QA inspector can't miss that." Victor Scheinman improved many industries with one well thought through design.
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