Victor Scheinman

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Victor Scheinman at MIT Museum with PUMA robot in 2014

Victor David Scheinman (December 28, 1942 – September 20, 2016) was a pioneer in the field of robotics born in Augusta, Georgia. He is a graduate of the now-defunct New Lincoln High School in New York. In the late 1950s, and while in high school, Scheinman engineered a speech-to-text machine as a science fair project. In 1969, while at Stanford University, Scheinman invented the Stanford arm,[1] an all-electric, 6-axis articulated robot designed to permit an arm solution in closed form.[2][3] This allowed the robot to accurately follow arbitrary paths in space under computer control and widened the potential use of the robot to more sophisticated applications such as assembly and arc welding. In 1973, Scheinman started Vicarm Inc. to manufacture his robot arms. In 1977, Scheinman sold his design to Unimation, who further developed it, with support from General Motors, as the Programmable Universal Machine for Assembly (PUMA). He served briefly as General Manager of Unimation's West Coast division before joining Automatix as a cofounder and vice-president in 1980. While at Automatix, Scheinman developed RobotWorld, a system of cooperating small modules suspended from a 2-D linear motor. The product line was later sold to Yaskawa.[4]

On April 19, 2002—General Motors Controls, Robotics and Welding (CRW) organization donated the original prototype Programmable Universal Machine for Assembly (PUMA) robot to the Smithsonian.[5]

On June 22, 2006 broadcast of the American game-show Jeopardy!, Scheinman was the subject of the $1600 "answer" for the category "Robotics": "In the 1970s Victor Scheinman developed the PUMA, or programmable universal manipulation THIS" (question: "what is THIS?" - answer: "arm".).[6]

Up to the time of his death, Scheinman continued to consult and was a visiting professor at Stanford University in the department of mechanical engineering.

His niece is jazz violinist Jenny Scheinman. He was married to Sandra Auerback in August 2006.[7] His engineer son Dave Scheinman is head of Hardware for innovative 3D printing company Carbon-3D [8]

Scheinman died on September 20, 2016 in Petrolia, California at the age of 73.[9]


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