United States Patent  [ii] Patent Number: 4,698,775
Koch et al.  Date of Patent: Oct. 6, 1987
 SELF-CONTAINED MOBILE
 Inventors: George R. Koch, Los Altos; Michael Krolak, Los Gatos; Michael R. Biche, Newark, all of Calif.
 Assignee: Flexible Manufacturing Systems, Inc., Los Gatos, Calif.
 Appl. No.: 735,468
 Filed: May 17,1985
 Int. CI." G06F 15/50
 U.S. CI 364/478; 364/513;
414/265; 414/909; 901/1; 901/46; 901/47
 Field of Search 364/460-461,
364/478, 513; 901/1, 46-47, 50; 414/265, 279,
 References Cited
U.S. PATENT DOCUMENTS
3,086,465 4/1963 Montfort 414/909 X
3,973,685 8/1976 Loomer 901/1 X
4,119,900 10/1978 Kremnitz 901/1 X
4,239,434 12/1980 Gannon 364/478 X
4,283,165 8/1981 Vertut 901/1 X
4,307,891 12/1981 Doornick et al 901/1 X
4,425,751 1/1984 Bousseau et al 901/1 X
4,472,783 9/1984 Johnstone et al 364/478 X
4,500,970 2/1985 Daemmer 364/513
4,545,106 10/1985 Juengel 364/513 X
Marce et al., "An Autonomous Computer-Controlled
Vehicle", L.A.T.E.A. Institut National des Sciences
Appliquees, France, Oct. 1983, pp. 113-122.
J. Gupton, "Nuclear Power Plant Emergency Damage
Control Robot", Robotics Age, Mar./Apr. 1983, pp. 18-21.
Primary Examiner—Gary V. Harkcom
Attorney, Agent, or Firm—Thomas E. Schatzel
A mobile transport unit for independently operating within an enclosed environment. The transport unit is adapted for carrying a robotic manipulator arm and cargo within the environment, and includes an infrared communications transmitter/receiver for communicating with an extra-vehicular central processing unit. The transport unit includes electric motors for driving and for steering the unit. A laser docking module precisely determines the vehicle's location relative to a fixed point within the environment. Ultrasonic sensors placed about the vehicle can detect objects within a preselected range for collision avoidance and safety purposes. The vehicle is controlled by a central computer which receives inputs from the infrared communications system and from on-board sensors including directional sensors, distance measuring sensors, a gyroscope, the ultrasonic sensors, and the docking module. The on-board computer directs the vehicle and the robotic arm based on information received from these inputs, and allows for the continuous operation of the vehicle without recalibration. Power is supplied to the vehicle by an on-board battery pack, and the vehicle is enclosed by a protective skin for reasons of cleanliness and safety, and to prevent turbulent airflow around the wafer cassettes and the robotic arm.
8 Claims, 6 Drawing Figures