Monday, 20 August, 2018

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dMan – Dexterous Manipulation System

The Hstar's dMan system brings autonomous robotic operation to intra-container and warehouse material handling operations, significantly reducing worker injury and resulting costs.

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Large-scale warehouse automation systems have largely solved the problem of bulk product movement, but manual intervention is required for most truck and container loading and unloading operations. dMan will initially target container material handling to address labor-intensive requirements. Building upon RoNA and cRoNA development efforts, dMan will combine high maneuverability and autonomous mobility with dexterous manipulation, able to open container doors and safely handle a wide range of package sizes of 300 lbs or more.

Hstar is working with industry partner Sea Box, and will explore the potential for commercialization through this partner, or with others equally established in the commercial and military freight systems marketplace.

When used under telepresence control in battlefield environments, dMan will enable unmanned material loading and unloading, thereby protecting military personnel from hostile fire and potential injury or death.

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The dMan robot system will initially target container material handling to address labor-intensive requirements by offering the following features:

● Small footprint and high maneuverability: Tight space restrictions often rule out use of pre-packed pallets that require bulky mechanical aids like pallet jacks or fork lifts. In such instances, shipped items need to be manually organized, positioned, and secured. dMan works where most traditional material handling aids cannot. The system can operate in close quarters, pivot on its omnidirectional wheelbase, and navigate ramps. Haptic feedback systems enable dexterous manipulation, with safe placement of loads weighing 300 pounds or more.

● Advanced logistical planning algorithm: Diverse contents and destinations: containers (and trucks) often combine loads from multiple customers with diverse destinations. Packages will be of diverse sizes, weights, and fragility. Packing these in a way that maximizes logistical efficiency, balances loads, and prevents breakage or spoilage is an intelligent function, ideal for autonomic robotic function. dMan software algorithms enable precise, planned freight placement within or removal and delivery from the container.

● Injury prevention: laborers and freight, stock, and material movers experienced over four times the national average rate of musculoskeletal injury (149 per 10,000 workers, vs. 35), and those injured were away from work twice as long (14 days) as the national median. Man assumes the heavy and repetitive lifting that can lead to musculoskeletal and other injuries. Prevention of these injuries saves $1,000 or more per injury day and prolongs the useful career of employees.

● Reduce freight handling time and costs, and improve "perfect order" (on time, on target) shipments. dMan, operating 24 hours per day, can unload 50 TEUs per day, the work of 15 or more laborers. Assuming an hourly union rate plus benefits of $35/hr, a dedicated operator, and a net savings of 10 laborers, savings in one year would amount to $0.7 million. dMan, priced at $200,000, would pay for itself well within the first year of operation, allowing for a generous ramp up.

The Sophisticated sensor suite and artificial intelligence and utilize learned area mapping, geospatial perspective, and collision avoidance to work efficiently.

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Heavy duty robotic hands developed for shipping box container door handling - delicate pinch manipulations or power grips

i-Pbot – an Intelligent robotic pallet

Hstar is developing an advanced omni-directional intelligent robotic pallet (i-Pbot) system for military cargo handling. The i-Pbot will be developed by integrating holonomic drive for high mobility in confined spaces, high strength actuators for active compliance control (articulation, suspension, and sensing), tele-robotics control for enhancing the guidance of robotic pallets, and wireless sensor network for self-location capability. The propelled and actuated tele-robotic device, i-Pbot system, can assure a safely balanced air cargo handling. The wireless i-Pbot swarms will navigate autonomously by swarm algorithms based on each i-Pbot’s weight and proximity to make sure that each i-Pbot parks at the proper location on the aircraft with a proper weight distribution.

Our first application targets military air transport, enabling faster loading and unloading of aircraft and improved ground logistics to increase sortie rates and accelerate end-to-end cargo delivery. Hstar plans to extend its application of robotic material handling technology and ConOps to a broad range of commercial applications, including commercial air freight, warehouse, plant floor, and multi-modal shipping operations.

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