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Commercially Available Professional Robotic Manipulators – Part 1

Robotic arms or manipulators are employed on a large scale nowadays, in almost every field of human activity, in fact you could probably count on fingers applications not benefiting from such robotic products. You can find robotic manipulators almost everywhere, in industrial environments performing highly repetitive or heavy duty manufacturing activities on assembly lines, in research facilities precisely handling sensible or hazardous substances or objects and even on other planets gathering samples or otherwise. Even for hobbyists or tight-budget projects the market has alternatives to offer, as we pointed out in our articles about budget robotic arms here and here. Robotic arms generally replicate a human arm therefore their structure is relatively similar, however design variations are incredibly numerous, mainly due to the fact that these robotic devices are purpose built to the applications they are employed at and can have various degrees of complexity, capabilities or performance compared to their human equivalents.

In this article we will present professional robotic manipulators that are aimed at research or otherwise professional work environments. These products are very complex and feature very high operating precision, reliability and performance. Robotic arms are made of high quality materials featuring unique design solutions to enhance their capabilities and operation, while end effectors are often in the form of robotic hand grippers, very similar in structure to their human counterparts, featuring fingers and multiple joints for each of them. You will also find exoskeleton robotic arms meant to augment human capabilities. All of these come of course at a price, in the range of thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.


CES MechaTE Robot Hand

The first product comes from a company specialized in animatronics, namely Custom Entertainment Solutions, Inc. As you might have guessed this robotic hand is designed with entertainment in mind and does not carry substantial gripping force, as the manufacturer states. The robotic hand has 5 fingers featuring a total of 14 joints, the exact number found in a human hand.

MechaTE robotic hand (Photo: CES)

Five Futaba S3114 servos actuate each finger independently, meaning that the servos can be controlled through any conventional PWM servo controller interface, allowing for easy implementation into existing projects.

The robotic hand is made of anodized aircraft-grade aluminium and finger linkage rods feature several adjustment screws. The robotic hand, either in right or left form, can be bought at a price of around 900 US Dollars.


Invenscience LC Modular Advanced Robotic Manipulator

The modular robotic arm from Invenscience LC with 4 DOF is constructed as a pretty robust product with industrial robot design in mind. It comes in two flavors, its sections can be made either of aluminium or carbon fiber. Both versions feature a ball bearing base pivot joint, stainless steel components and joints are made of aluminium. Parts can also be bought separately, allowing for creation of custom configurations with any number of elements.

Modular ARM (Photo: Invenscience LC)

Depending on the servos employed, the robotic arm allows for either position feedback or open loop control. Industrial grade high torque Torxis servos are employed, for feedback control versions an i01856 270 degree servo actuates the base joint while the rest of the joints are actuated by i01855 servos allowing for 90 degree travel. Open loop control versions feature Torxis i01859 servos on all joints with unlimited travel for the base joint and 120 degrees of travel for the other joints. The robot requires a 12 VDC power source and PWM input signals for servo control. Prices for this product are around 2000 US Dollars, depending on version.


Invenscience LC Advanced Robotic Manipulator 2

Another interesting product from Invenscience LC is the 6 DOF Advanced Robotic Manipulator 2 or ARM 2.0. This robot also employs 6 Torxis servos, linear and rotary, and comes in feedback and open loop versions, with position control or velocity control versions, depending on user requirements. The robot’s base joint rotary servo allows for 250 degrees of travel. Shoulder, elbow and wrist joints are actuated by linear servos which provide 135 degrees of travel for the first two joints and 50 degrees of travel for the wrist joint. The wrist rotation joint is actuated by a standard servo which allows for 270 degrees of travel. The gripper is also actuated by a standard servo.

ARM 2.0 (Photo: RobotShop)

The robotic arm features a sturdy aluminium construction with dual carbon fiber arm sections, providing a reach of up to 1,4 meters. It can manipulate weights of over 13 kilograms when retracted or approximately 7 kilograms when fully extended. It is controlled by a Pololu Micro Maestro servo sequencer which allows for either USB tethered operation, controlled by a PC or stand alone operation. The servo sequencer also has a preloaded demo routine for testing the operation of the arm which requires a 12 VDC power source. The ARM 2.0 is available at a price of around 6000 US Dollars.


Dr Robot Jaguar Robotic Arm

From the series of Jaguar products the robotic arm manufactured by Dr Robot is designed for mobile robot platforms. It has 4 DOF including the gripper and has a reach of over 70 centimeters. It features a sturdy construction and can lift object of about 4 kilograms when fully extended. The robotic arm also features a 640×480 color camera mounted on its wrist. Several equipment options are available such as LED light sources or dust blower and the robotic arm can also serve as a sensorial platform for laser scanners or other types of sensors.

Jaguar robotic arm (Photo: Dr Robot)

Integrated software provides features such as independent joint space control and Cartesian space control for the gripper’s final position. This robotic arm is available at a price of around 8500 US Dollars.

Jaguar robotic arm in action (Photo: Dr Robot)



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