MHI Develops 'MHI-Super Giraffe (MARS-C)' Remote-controlled Robo

MHI Develops 'MHI-Super Giraffe (MARS-C)' Remote-controlled Robot Capable of
Work at Heights Up to 8 Meters 
- Robot Arm at Top of Telescopic Ladder Accommodates Diverse Needs - 
Tokyo, Feb 20, 2013 - (JCN Newswire) -  Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI)
has developed a remote-controlled robot, dubbed the "MHI-Super Giraffe
(MARS-C)(1), capable of working at heights up to 8 meters (m) and moving freely
in areas inaccessible by humans like highly radioactive environments. By
changing the robot arm and/or tool attached at the arm end, the MARS-C can
perform various tasks including valve opening/closing and radioactive
decontamination work. For this robot MHI adopted a modular design concept
applicable to each movement or work mechanism. To accelerate the achievement of
even more advanced robot capabilities in the future, the company intends to
disclose its technical data pertaining to the MARS-C's various connecting
parts in order to enable the development of modules by other companies, so that
going forward MHI itself can develop new modules incorporating such externally
created technologies. 
The MARS-C was developed as a "Research and Development Project for an
Unmanned Disaster Response System" consigned by the New Energy and
Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), with the aim of
accommodating various tasks needing to be performed at the Fukushima Daiichi
Nuclear Power Station operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company: for example,
valve opening/closing, decontamination work, leakage detection and
identification, cutting, etc. The robot is powered by a lithium-ion
rechargeable battery and is capable of five hours of continuous
remote-controlled operation applying standard Ethernet computer network
The MARS-C comprises four modules: a platform module (movement mechanism),
load lifting module (telescopic ladder), attachment module (robot arm) and end
effector module (attachment tool component). The platform module features
4-wheel drive and 4-wheel steering, features that enable counter-rotation
(place rotation) and lateral movement and thereby enhance the MARS-C's
agility in narrow spaces. Outriggers(2) are provided to boost stability when
performing work at substantial heights. The load lifting module features a
5-step telescopic extension system that can fully accommodate lifting of loads
in excess of 150 kilograms (kg) at a height of 8m. The attachment module, i.e.
the robot arm, has 7 joints - the same number as the human arm - ensuring
outstanding articulation, in addition to compact dimensions and lightweight
construction. The end effector module, i.e. the attachment tool component, is a
device enabling the opening and closing of valves. It features a mechanism that
enables easy tool attachment and detachment by remote control, using hydraulic
Two interlocking features are provided to prevent the robot platform from
tipping over during work operation. The first continuously calculates the
center of gravity as the robot shifts orientation while working, and if the
gravity center becomes in danger of deviating from the outriggers' support
range, an alarm is displayed to warn the operator. The second feature
continuously monitors the values read by the load sensors on the outriggers,
and operation is automatically halted before the robot would otherwise leave
the ground. Intermodular interfaces adopt simple connection systems for the
various lines: power drive, communication, hydraulic, etc. MHI intends to make
open disclosure of all related information as a way of encouraging other
companies to join in the ongoing project to develop robots of these kinds. 
The power battery and recharging system incorporated into the robot platform
are based on technologies, specially customized for the MARS-C, featured in
Mitsubishi Motors Corporation's (MMC) i-MiEV electric vehicle. Use of a
battery that simultaneously offers high reliability and a large capacity
enables the robot, in spite of its 4-ton weight, to travel on 15 degree slopes
and achieve a travel speed of 6 kilometers per hour (km/h) on flat surfaces.
The battery enables continuous operation for 5 hours, even when the manipulator
is being used at a height of 8m. 
Going forward, MHI will mull development - including development in
collaboration with other companies - of collapsible and pantograph type load
lifting modules, and, for the attachment module, of a hydraulically driven wall
crusher to perform shear failure work and deck buckets for load lifting.
Regarding tools, besides the existing tool for opening/closing valves, the
company looks to develop tools for applications such as welding, drilling,
handling and leak detection. For the robot platform module, the company will
focus on development of a crawler travel system offering strength for coping
with operating surface gaps. Finally, development will also be pursued of robot
technologies that enable outstanding ease of maintenance as well as
increasingly sophisticated remote work operations. 
Major Specifications of MHI-Super Giraffe (MARS-C) 

Dimensions:             Length: 2,350mm, Width: 800mm, Height: 2,000mm
Weight:                 4 tons
Travel system:          4-wheel drive, 4-wheel steering
Travel speed:           6km/h
Load lifting mechanism: 5-step telescopic ladder
Robot arm:              One 7-axis arm with handling capacity of 20kg
Accessible height:      Up to 8m from ground level
Attachment tool:        Valve opening/closing mechanism (combination of
                        handle rotator and opening/closing counterforce
Power source:           Lithium-ion rechargeable battery (adopting
                        technologies featured in MMC's EVs)
Operating time:         5 hrs
Operating method:       Wireless remote control (using Ethernet)

(1) MARS: Maintenance Assist Robot System. Giraffe: Global Innovative Robot
Arm For Future Evolution.
(2) Outrigger: A device attached to a crane, aerial work platform and other
vehicles whose center of gravity undergoes significant shifts in position. The
device (or multiple devices) extends outward from the side of the vehicle and
is set firmly on the ground. 
About Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI), headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, is one
of the world's leading heavy machinery manufacturers, with consolidated
sales of 2,820.9 billion yen in fiscal 2011, the year ended March 31, 2012.
MHI's diverse lineup of products and services encompasses shipbuilding,
power plants, chemical plants, environmental equipment, steel structures,
industrial and general machinery, aircraft, space rocketry and air-conditioning
systems. For more information, please visit the MHI website at 
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
Hideo Ikuno
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