Feeds

US Navy develops toss-proof robot crane

Allows matelots to unload safely out at sea

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

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. ®

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
MARS NEEDS OCEANS to support life - and so do exoplanets
Just being in the Goldilocks zone doesn't mean there'll be anyone to eat the porridge
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Diary note: Pluto's close-up is a year from … now!
New Horizons is less than a year from the dwarf planet
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.