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Passive orientation apparatus

United States Patent

September 11, 2001
View the Complete Patent at the US Patent & Trademark Office
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An apparatus that can return a payload to a known orientation after unknown motion, without requiring external power or complex mechanical systems. The apparatus comprises a faceted cage that causes the system to rest in a stable position and orientation after arbitrary motion. A gimbal is mounted with the faceted cage and holds the payload, allowing the payload to move relative to the stable faceted cage. The payload is thereby placed in a known orientation by the interaction of gravity with the geometry of the faceted cage, the mass of the system, and the motion of the payload and gimbal. No additional energy, control, or mechanical actuation is required. The apparatus is suitable for use in applications requiring positioning of a payload to a known orientation after arbitrary or uncontrolled motion, including remote sensing and mobile robot applications.
Spletzer; Barry L. (Albuquerque, NM), Fischer; Gary J. (Albuquerque, NM), Martinez; Michael A. (Albuquerque, NM)
Sandia Corporation (Albuquerque, NM)
09/ 306,676
May 6, 1999
This invention was made with Government support under Contract DE-AC04-94AL85000 awarded by the U. S. Department of Energy. The Government has certain rights in the invention.