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Obituary: Victor Scheinman, inventor of the 'Stanford Arm' factory robot


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.

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