back to article US Navy develops toss-proof robot crane

US Navy boffinry chiefs say they have successfully tested a cunning, heavily augmented crane which allows containers to be loaded on and off ships tossing on the waves out at sea, removing the need for a harbour when mounting an invasion or delivering humanitarian aid. The LVI Lo/Lo wibbley-wobbley crane in action. Credit: ONR …


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  1. Fr. Ted Crilly

    nothing new really

    Heave compensation is as old as, oil Industry has been heave compensating drilling ships since way back when.

    Also used on diving support vessels to 'hold' saturation chambers steady.

    1. Randolf McKinley

      @Fr. Ted Crilly

      Yeah, but it's not heave compensation. That just has to keep a load in one place in space, which is an entirely simpler problem to keeping a load in one place relative to a moving point (the other deck). Firstly you have to sense the deck and secondly you have to accelerate the load around to make it stay in the same place, particularly laterally, which isn't easy on the end of a cable. Also you probably need to adjust the plane of the bottom of the container to match the receiving deck, which is probably what the gubbins on the crane head and the extra lateral cables are for.

      So, simple heave comp it ain't.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yes, but...

      ...I imagine that oil industry ships aren't dealing with multi-ton shipping containers and/or exploding things.

      1. Lunatik

        Well yes, they are...

        Offshore installations are supplied almost exclusively by boat and of course not much of it is explosive, but most of that that gear ain't exactly light. Or cheap.

        However, claiming that this fancy-shmancy new crane allows loading/unloading in 'up to 1m waves' isn't exactly going to rupture anyone's BOP with excitement. We wouldn't have been able to get any oil out of the North Sea on a commercial basis if the supply vessels there couldn't cope with a fair bit more than this on a daily basis. Hell, a 2m swell is almost calm and things only get dicey when it's a good bit rougher than that.

    3. conel
      Thumb Up

      The clever part

      The clever part of this crane is the 6 degrees of control it has over the container. Heave compensation is already routine, but to be able to control a payload without it rotating and to be able to align it without needing anyone to come close to it is pretty cool.

    4. Chopper Mozart

      Encouraging development

      So presumably, and after a suitable time for miniaturisation, we can expect Sony WalkArms to enable us to place our pints on (apparently) violently wallowing bar surfaces?

      Swords into ploughshares right there!

  2. 46Bit

    Might want to retest it

    When the sea's like treacle so probably not moving much, they probably would get a positive result, yes.

  3. Mike Richards

    Another classic headline from Lewis

    And the second line's a cracker as well.

  4. G R Goslin


    I can see how the crane can accommodate shifts in the position of the load due to vessel movements, but how is it to accommodate variations of position in the other vessel. Since the crane is likely to be on the the vessel supplying the load, there is a good chance that the vessel to which the load is being delivered is going to be smaller, and therefore subject to even more violent movements. The only solution I can think of is for the crane to lower a sensing pack onto the other vessels deck, in the vicinity of the delivery point to allow it to assess the differential movements of the two vessels.

  5. Anonymous Coward


    Where's the video? No proof unless there's a video! ;-)

  6. The Indomitable Gall


    Combine with this related story...

    ...and it looks like there's a genuine plan coming together.

  7. Gerhard Mack

    forget military apps

    Imagine how useful this would have been in Haiti when the docks and airports were all destroyed by the earthquake.

  8. VeganVegan

    1 meter waves

    are laughably small. I'd be impressed when they test the cranes on normal seas.

  9. Bucky 2

    "Toss Proof?"

    Here I thought it was a crane which wouldn't malfunction should the soldiers using it practice self-abuse, and soil the control panel.

  10. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    1m is not much

    But it's a start.

    Dull technology perhaps, but pretty clever.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Ok I understand that the container will now be stopped from being tossed around - but what about the other vessel that the container is being loaded onto? If that is still being tossed around, then the "stationary" container is almost pointless?

  12. Mystic Megabyte
    Paris Hilton


    I invented this system 30 years ago when I worked on Cormorant Alpha but didn't patent it. What a fool I've been!

    Paris 'cos my jib is going up, down etc.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Save me

    How dull has my life got that I am reading articles about "toss-proof" cranes in the office at 9am on a weekday morning?!

    I really need to get out more....

  14. The First Dave Silver badge


    "up to 1 meter in height".

    That would be a pretty calm day for the pond in my garden, never mind an actual ocean.

  15. Jim Fenner
    Jobs Horns

    Overcoming rough seas

    I understand that rough seas may be calmed somewhat by pumping oil around the ship. The US Navy could partner with BP on this one.

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