We have built a laboratory prototype to evaluate the performance of an innovative design of robot for optical fibre
placement as part of the design study for the proposed 2° field (2dF)"5 for the Anglo Australian Telescope (AAT).
Based on the Autofib-12'4 system operating at the AAT, it uses a new design of gripper to manipulate, and also
measure the positions of fibre optic probes.
The new design incorporates a CCD TV camera to check on the accuracy of each fibre's position in real time as
the fibres are being placed, with any slight adjustment required being made automatically. This automatic error
correction will eliminate the need for extensive calibration procedures, and provide the improved accuracy required
to work at typical 4m prime focus platescales.
Our laboratory prototype exhibits good accuracy (<10pm rms) and reliability and we now intend to use this
approach at the prime focus of the William Herschel Telescope (WHT)3. In this paper we report on the overall
performance of the new design and assess it's practicality in applications on real telescopes.