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Cheap Robotic Manipulator Availability


Collaborative robotics is getting traction for industrial use cases and in the next years we will see collaborative robots (cobots) for service and consumer use cases. Indeed, following traditional deflationary tech economies of scale, prices are going down, while software and hardware is getting better. While the most popular brands, such as Universal Robotics, sell industrial level cobots in the price range of 20-30k USD, much cheaper robotic arms are being built by startups.

Background reading on the low cost cobots landscape

When will a sub 1000 USD (2022 USD) general purpose robotic manipulator be available?

This question resolves positively on the date in which a collaborative robotic arm with the following specs is available for purchase:

  • Low cost: Less than 1000 USD (in 2022 USD) for the robot hardware.

  • Compatible with a wide set of end effectors (robot hands/tools). At minimum it should support 2-fingers and 3-fingers grippers, suction cup grippers and soft grippers (for delicate and deformable objects).

  • Lightweight (less than 15 Kg) and Compliant: Able to interact safely in environments with untrained staff, with not protective barriers needed.

  • It should be easy to deploy third party apps on it, that is the behaviour of the robot should be programmable. The definition of easy is the following: software developers of third parties (that is not working for the robot manufacturer) should be able to develop an application for the robot in a common programming language, where common means in the top10 of the Tiobe Index or equivalent popularity metric. Once developed, the application should be installable by the robot owner by downloading the application from an app store, similarly to mobile phones app stores.

  • General Purpose: the robot arm can be used for numerous tasks in different environments (e.g. it is not built to only perform packaging operations)

  • The robot arm has 6 Degrees of Freedom or more.

  • Max Payload > 2Kg

  • Robot Arm Reach > 700mm (Distance from the center of the robot to the fullest extension of the robotic arm)

  • Repeatability < 1mm ( How "precise" the robot is. In detail: the closeness of agreement between several positions reached by the robot's end-effector for the same controlled position. The lower the better. There are already robot with < 0.1 mm repeatability, but they are usually expensive. )

Any website advertising the sale of a robot with such specs, or better, can count as source for the resolution.

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