OC Robotics has made a number of significant commercial breakthroughs in the manufacture of snake-arm robots.
In April 2003 OC Robotics signed a contract with the UK MoD to test a snake-arm robot for EOD (explosive ordnance disposal). Back in February 2003 the company entered into an exclusive agreement with a leading manufacturer to mount its robotic arm on an EOD vehicle. In March 2003 OC Robotics received a second round of funding from the existing shareholders including Oxford Technology 2 Venture Capital Trust. Lucius Cary, Director of OT2 states: "OT2 is very pleased to announce a further investment in OC Robotics. Contracts with the MoD and a leading manufacturer of EOD vehicles are an important breakthrough. The number of potential applications for this new and exciting technology is huge". Also in March 2003 OC Robotics entered into detailed discussions with a global aircraft manufacturer and saw the start of negotiations with GlaxoSmithKline, the global pharmaceutical company, and with Comau and Centro Research Fiat to consider application of snake-arm technology for end of life vehicle disassembly.
Snake-arms are long thin arms with lots of joints. They can be designed for significant payloads - for example, a 3m long device can handle a payload of 50kg - or to be very slender - for example 10m long with 80mm outside diameter. Snake-arm robots have two particularly novel and useful features. OC Robotics has developed hardware and software so that an arm can be controlled to follow-its-nose and deliver tools and sensors into limited access environments. Because snake-arm robots are also compliant and have smooth external and internal surfaces there are also options for interactive use in human environments. By running all services internally the arm becomes a steerable hose with a smooth cleanable external surface.
Saturday, May 3, 2003