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sor  20 attached thereto, the sensor
         20  configured  to  acquire  signals  from
         a beacon  30 associated with a lifting   SLINGUARD PROTECTORS
         point on the load. Throughout this dis-
         closure,  the term “lifting device” and
         helicopter, crane, forklift, pallet mover
         and the like are used interchangeably,                      “Clutch Action”
         it being understood that the present
         invention is not limited to any specific
         load lifting and moving device, but may               “The Only Proven Protection
         be applied to any load lifting device,               For Your Products and Slings”
         as should be apparent  to one skilled
         in the art. Also, the present invention               Extends Sling Life - Reduces cost
         lends  itself  well  to robotic  lifting  and
         moving devices, such as remotely con-
         trolled and GPS operated  helicopters,                  Sleeves, Wraps, Pads
         pallet lifters/movers that are operated
         by a computer and position sensors,                               & Blankets
         automated  cranes  and other similar
         lifting and moving devices. All of these
         lifting  and  moving  devices  are  fitted
         with a load lifter, which may be a hook,                             Available From:
         ring, clevis or the like. In the present
         invention,  an automated, electrically                  THE VERNON CORPORATION
         operated grapple is provided as a load                     P.O. Box 246 • 400 N. Yankeetown Road
         lifter attached to a load lifting device.                         Boonville, Indiana 47601
         A receptacle attached to the load serves
         as an attachment point, and which re-
         ceives the grapple, which  is locked in          (800) 897-5584
         the receptacle.
           Beacon  30 is attached in a known
         orientation on or near the load, which
         as  stated, allows  6 degree  of  freedom
         information to be calculated for the lift-
         ing point, and in one embodiment to de-
         velop control signals for automatically
         guiding  a  helicopter,  crane  or  other
         lifting apparatus 10 to engage the load
         lifting device with the lifting point.
           In another embodiment, instruction-
         al signals are developed and provided
         to a pilot of a helicopter, or operator of
         a crane. A rope, chain, strap or the like
         40 of a known length is attached at one
         end to helicopter or crane 10, with an
         automated grapple 50 attached to the
         other end of rope 40, as by a hook or
         loop 901 as shown in figure 6. A receiv-
         er  60  is  configured  to  be  engaged  by
         grapple 50, and is attached to a load 70
         by a rope, chain, strap, net or the like
         80.  A computer processor  90 receives
         the signals from sensor 20, calculates
         the six degrees of freedom information
         and develops the  control  or  informa-
         tional signals  to guide the automated
         grapple to the receiver on the load.
           Sensor  20,  which  may be  a digital
         camera, is attached to helicopter or
         crane 10 in a position and orientation
         to receive signals from a load 70 gener-
         ally underneath the helicopter or crane
         10.  As  such,  the  sensor  field  of  view,
         which may be on the order of 15-25 de-
         grees  or  so,  includes  an  area  directly
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