May 8, 2007 Researchers from CNRS and the Spanish foundation Fatronik have designed a manipulator-type robot that is twice as fast as all existing robots. To achieve this feat, which has not gone unnoticed by industry, they have worked on optimizing both the shape of the robot and its control system. The robot, baptized Adept Quattro from the name of its manufacturer and because of its four arms, has just been launched on the market. Several hundred orders have already been placed, among others, by the food processing, health and beauty industries.
The LIRMM (Montpellier Laboratory of Computer Science, Robotics, and Microelectronics, CNRS/Université Montpellier 2) has worked for many years on the creation of prototypes in the field of parallel robots. These manipulator robots comprise several “arms” or kinematic chains linking their base to their mobile parts. They are employed in various industries to handle small objects on production lines.
Over the last six years, the LIRMM has teamed up with the Fundación Fatronik, an applied research centre in the Spanish Basque Country, to design and control manipulator robots. The researchers have come up with a solution that is both innovative and compatible with the constraints of industry. Innovative by the general shape of the robot: it has four robotic arms with different ergonomics to those of a conventional single robotic arm and more similar to a human arm.
The researchers particularly focused on design calculations to optimize the dimensions of each component in order to obtain maximum acceleration. Their solution meets the constraints of industry thanks to the robot's control system, which limits vibrations and, consequently, the time required by the robot to set down a part at a precise spot. The result is a prototype that can handle 240 parts a minute and attain accelerations of 200 meters per square second with loads of two kilograms, compared to 100 meters per square second and one kilogram for current robots.
Thanks to this performance, the LIRMM prototype has convinced Adept, one of the world leaders in robotics, to produce the robot on an industrial scale. Over the last six months researchers and industrialists have worked on this transfer of technology, leading to the robot's market launch. Baptized Adept Quattro, it is targeted for all applications where objects need to be moved and packaged, particularly in industries such as food processing, health, beauty, electronics, etc. Several hundred orders have already been placed for the robots, which cost between 30,000 and 50,000 Euros each, depending on the amount of integration work that needs to be carried out in the industrial installation.
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