As a continuation of our professional robotic manipulators review, started here, in this article we will present products that are more specialized for certain applications. We will talk about exoskeleton support arms, a very advanced adaptive gripper and robotic arms well suited for research or business environments.
Kinova JACO RE Robot Manipulator
The JACO robotic manipulator – Research edition – from Kinova, a Canadian company established in 2006, is a one-of-a-kind product aimed at professionals. The robotic arm has 6 DOF and each joint allows for unlimited rotation about its axis. Its main construction material is carbon fiber, with an aluminium base structure for fixing it to different surfaces. Joints have an unique design, consisting of compact actuator discs (CAD) which are in fact interchangeable and replaceable. They are linked together by a zero insertion force (ZIF) cable. The arm’s gripper is a basically a hand with 3 plastic fingers with 3 joints each, which can be controlled independently, providing very good flexibility and grip thanks to the unique manufacturing process.
The JACO can be controlled through the Kinova JACOsoft software when connected to the USB port of a PC. The software features advanced IK algorithms to provide maximum control to the user and also avoid unwanted positions, or singularities. An API, providing complete control, diagnostic and various other tools, is available for better integration in projects, running on Ubuntu Linux and Windows XP, Vista and 7 operating systems, extensive documentation being provided. The arm can also be controlled with the Kinova 3 axis joystick provided with the package.
The robot is very lightweight, only 5,7 kilograms, and has a maximum payload capacity of 1,5 kilograms, 1 kilogram when fully extended. Its reach is 90 centimeters, with a finger force of 7 Newtons and a joint torque of 30 Nm. Among its features we can find a 3-axis accelerometer and 1 Mbps CANBUS. It is powered by a 24 VDC power source, accepting a voltage variation of 20 percent. The robotic arm also features error checking of the joint’s positions embedded in the firmware. All of this is available for just under 50.000 US Dollars. A more specialized variant of this arm is designed for medical assistance purposes, aiding people with limited abilities.
BioRob X4-SR Robotic Manipulator
The X4-SR from the German company BioRob is based on the concept of elastic actuation, just like a human arm. The robot has a maximum payload of about 2 kilograms, very impressive considering the fact that the robotic arm has a maximum weight of 4,4 kilograms, depending on version. The robot has 4 DOF however up to 2 DOF can be added if demanded. Thanks to the antagonistic actuator system all the actuators are placed in the base of the robot resulting in a weight of the arm itself of only 1 kilogram.
Thanks to its lightweight and therefore reduced inertia, the robot can be safely employed in a collaborative environment aiding the user to perform various tasks without fear of injury, with a contact force of 25 Newtons. The robot requires a power supply of 12 to 28 VDC. The robot can be controlled from a laptop or netbook computer running a Linux RTOS through EtherCAT technology. Application specific GUIs and API for C/C++ programming environments are available and it is also possible to control the robot under the Robot Operating System (ROS). The robotic arm is available at a price of around 33.000 US Dollars.
Robotiq Adaptive Robot Gripper
The 3 finger adaptive robot gripper from Robotiq is perhaps the first industrial-grade hand gripper that can handle objects precisely thanks to its feedback of pressure exerted by its fingers. This gripper hand can be employed at numerous applications that require handling of objects with extremely different shapes. Each of the 3 articulated fingers is individually controlled and all of them can adapt to the object’s geometry. The robotic hand has a weight of approximately 2 kilograms and a maximum gripping force of 40 Newtons. It can hold objects weighting up to 10 kilograms when object allows encompassing or 3 kilograms when only friction based grip is possible. Each finger has 3 joints and a total of 4 grasping modes is possible.
The robotic hand features multiple communication interfaces such as Ethernet, Modbus RTU/TCP, DeviceNet and EtherCAT. Feedback is provided in the form of finger contact detection, motor current absorbed and encoders for each motor. Power requirement is 24 VDC and nominal current is 1,4 A. The Robotiq gripper is available for a price of around 18.000 US Dollars.
Equipois X-Ar Exoskeletal Arm Support
The X-Ar arm support from Equipois attaches to one’s arm, providing dynamic support for motions performed naturally. Based on the award winning technology underlying the company’s zeroG products, the X-Ar can support the weight of the human arm as well as small objects, up to 6 kilograms, that the user holds. The X-Ar is designed to help users in various industrial applications such as welding, precision assembly, painting and other similar operations. The device has a weight of 2,5 kilograms and features several adjustments in the degree of assistance provided.
The X-Ar arm support is available for both left and right arms and its components are made of stainless steel, aluminium and plastic. The arm support is torsion spring driven and can also be fixed to a variety of surfaces, requiring no auxiliary energy source. In conjuction with zeroG products the X-Ar can eliminate all types of injuries caused by overexertion and can increase productivity. The X-Ar comes at a price of around 4000 US Dollars.