Underwater Dual Manipulator? Inflatable (UDMI)

Period of Performance: 07/06/2015 - 05/06/2016


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Re2, Inc.
4925 Harrison Street Array
Pittsburgh, PA 15201
Principal Investigator


RE2, Inc. proposes to develop the Underwater Dual Manipulator ? Inflatable (UDMI), a low-cost inflatable manipulator to assist Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Divers in dismantling underwater IEDs and mines using unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs). The UDMI will enable the deployment of cost-effective and reliable manipulation systems for UUVs and will bring the stand-off capabilities that unmanned ground vehicles have brought to EOD technicians operating on land. The UDMI will have many advantages over rigid hydraulic or electro-mechanical manipulation systems. It will stow compactly before use, reducing hydrodynamic drag and its impact on mission duration during procedures such as an autonomous hull search for foreign devices. The inflatable UDMI will also possess natural compliance that will allow the system to passively deform if the manipulator strikes an object due to changing currents. Our proposed design, though, will provide greater stiffness than typical inflatable robots to enable higher precision manipulation for EOD tasks. Lastly, the UDMI will more closely mimic human arm kinematics than has been previously demonstrated with fluidic actuators, improving manipulability and mission success using unmanned systems underwater. By providing a low-cost, inflatable, manipulation solution, the UDMI will enable the improved CONOPS and safer operation for underwater EOD.