The Oxford Robotics Institute required a powered overhead gantry crane to be supplied and installed in their new robotics laboratory in Keble College. The gantry was to be used both as a lifting and fall-arrest system for walking robots to protect them from damage as well as lifting and handling robots as required in an experimental area of 5m x 16m.
The overhead crane system our customer required needed to accommodate a walking robot weighing 35kg and standing 1m tall, but with a future capability to handle robots up to 250kg as developments in the lab progress. The operating zone of the laboratory needed to be clear of any obstructions to avoid restricting the robot's movement. It was important that the crane had powered motion in the x/y/z axis which could be operated wirelessly with one hand, with the ability to run in tandem with another crane supplied as part of this package. The system was to be mounted to a reinforced concrete ceiling in the new lab space which was being built as part of the new Keble College H B Allen Centre, and our team worked closely with the end user and contractors to coordinate installation of the overhead crane system, with the only means of access to the underground laboratory through a goods lift, which meant that we were restricted to the size and length of all crane components.
Having previously worked with the NASA Valkyrie robot, we were equipped with the tools and knowledge to be able to deliver systems like this for the specialist field of robotics. We supplied our customer with the Eurosystem STD light crane system, specifying a larger Safe Working Load (SWL) to give the customer future proofing of their system. This overhead crane was fixed directly into the reinforced concrete ceiling, optimising the space below allowing the robots to have the maximum amount of movement on the floor without any obstructions. The variable speed range on the Eurochain VR Vario made this the perfect choice of electric chain hoist to be coupled with the overhead crane system, as it was integral for the client to be able to navigate the space with a wide range of speeds, with smooth transitions between them to safely guide the robots.
As this hoist was to be used in a university environment, we were confident that it would be smooth and quiet in this controlled space due to the variable speed drives and the wheel configuration as the being system was designed to prevent any damage to the robot when performing its movements and to stop it falling over. Attachment to the robot was achieved by using a spreader beam as the interface between our system and the robot, which was then connected to the hook on the electric chain hoist to support the robot as necessary, making it completely adaptable for future developments in the laboratory and with different robots. The final requirement for the client was for wireless control which was done through radio control system allowing the operator to either control one or both cranes simultaneously from the same radio transmitters, through a catch and release type system, meeting the universities specification perfectly and providing equipment that was fit for purpose under our company motto of “Safety Above All”
“Hoist UK pride ourselves on being part of this type of project and play our small part on this vital work to protect these very valuable robots and to enable them to continue to advance the human race through research and development.”