Feeds

US Navy develops toss-proof robot crane

Allows matelots to unload safely out at sea

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

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

Hah, the crinkly stuff holds no terrors for us now

According to the Office of Naval Research (ONR), recent trials of the automated Large Vessel Interface Lift On/Lift Off (LVI Lo/Lo) robo-crane in the Gulf of Mexico were highly successful.

Present day crane technology means that ships can normally be loaded or unloaded only in sheltered harbours, where calm waters mean that vessels don't plunge up and down causing multi-tonne suspended loads to swing about destructively. Generally the only craft able to unload without a harbour are specialised amphibious warships, which use internal floating docks to shift cargo onto landing craft or lighters. (Helicopter lift is another military solution, though limited to lighter loads.)

The trouble with specialist landing ships is that they are expensive and scarce, and take time to return with another load. During an invasion or a major relief effort this time may not be available, which is why such endeavours tend to be so dependent on capturing or otherwise getting the use of a nearby harbour early on.

But the cunning LVI Lo/Lo robocrane can apparently compensate for surging decks and lurching loads with ease, setting down a massive ISO container gently aboard a neighbouring ship without trouble and requiring far fewer personnel than normal seagoing cranes.

The ONR consider that this would allow US forces to pour supplies and materiel ashore even where no harbour could be found, as ordinary container transports equipped with LVI Lo/Lo cranes would be able to offload onto landing craft, floating "sea bases", hovercraft etc just off the beach even in rough seas.

Apart from being a boon to military logistics, the ONR developers think their kit might have commercial applications - for instance in the offshore oil and gas industry.

The just-completed trials saw 20-foot ISO containers lifted on and off the US transport Flickertail State to other ships in waves "up to 1 meter in height". The trial LVI Lo/Lo crane remains available for future use aboard the Flickertail State if required, but so far there are no firm plans for more installations. ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
prev story

Whitepapers

Go beyond APM with real-time IT operations analytics
How IT operations teams can harness the wealth of wire data already flowing through their environment for real-time operational intelligence.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.