Kobe Steel has filed a patent for an automatic leveling system that prevents leveling objects from collapsing. The system includes a work machine, an imaging device, and a controller. The imaging device captures three-dimensional information about the shape and position of the leveling objects and a peripheral object. The controller sets a leveling area based on this information and directs the work machine to perform the leveling motion within that area. GlobalData’s report on Kobe Steel gives a 360-degree view of the company including its patenting strategy. Buy the report here.

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According to GlobalData’s company profile on Kobe Steel, Ore pre-treatment was a key innovation area identified from patents. Kobe Steel's grant share as of September 2023 was 29%. Grant share is based on the ratio of number of grants to total number of patents.

Automatic leveling system for leveling objects using imaging device

Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Credit: Kobe Steel Ltd

A recently filed patent (Publication Number: US20230313489A1) describes an automatic leveling system for leveling objects. The system includes a work machine capable of performing leveling motions, an imaging device that captures three-dimensional information about the position and shape of the leveling objects and the surrounding objects, and a controller that controls the work machine's leveling motion.

The work machine consists of a lower traveling body, an upper turning body supported by the lower traveling body, and a work attachment attached to the upper turning body. The work attachment can move in an upper-turning-body front-rear direction and has a tip attachment for leveling the objects. The controller uses the three-dimensional information from the imaging device to set a leveling area and directs the work machine to perform the leveling motion within that area.

In one embodiment, the peripheral object is a container that stores the leveling objects. The controller sets the leveling area based on the three-dimensional information of the container. The leveling area can be set with respect to the upper-turning-body front-rear direction, and the position of the leveling area's end can be deviated from the container's end in that direction. The controller can also set a leveling motion start position on the outer side of the container's end, from where the leveling motion begins.

The system may also include a height detection unit to detect the height of the leveling objects. The controller can set the leveling area based on the height direction determined by the height detection unit. Additionally, a container inclination detection unit can detect the inclination of the container, and the controller can set the leveling area to level the objects along the container's bottom surface based on the detected inclination.

The controller can make the work machine perform front-rear leveling motions and turning motions alternately. The front-rear leveling motion involves moving the tip attachment in the upper-turning-body front-rear direction relative to the upper turning body, while the turning motion involves turning the upper turning body relative to the lower traveling body.

The imaging device used in the system is located outside the work machine.

Overall, this patent describes an automatic leveling system that uses an imaging device and a controller to perform precise leveling motions on objects. The system can adapt to different container shapes and sizes and can level objects based on their height and the container's inclination.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData Patent Analytics tracks bibliographic data, legal events data, point in time patent ownerships, and backward and forward citations from global patenting offices. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies