Types of industrial robots

While industrial robots can be tailored to handle a variety of tasks and applications for many industries, there are actually 5 main categories of industrial robotics. The tasks to be completed determine the type of robot needed.

Industrial robot categories include:

• Cartesian robots

• Gantry robot

• SCARA robot

• Articulated robots

• Human assistance robots

Stationary robots

Stationary robots are those that do their job without changing positions. The term “stationary” is more associated with the robot base and not with the whole robot. The robot moves over the base to perform the desired operation. These robots manipulate their environment by controlling the position and orientation of an end device. The end devices can be a punching, welding or gripper device.

Fixed robots are divided into several groups:

Cartesian robots / easel

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A Cartesian robot operates on the X, Y and Z axes to reach the final position.

Cartesian or portal robots (also known as rectilinear robots) have three linear joints that use the Cartesian coordinate system. They operate within the x, y and z axes using linear guides. These guides help move the end effector to the correct position by moving each linear guide on the corresponding axis. These robots are generally used for pick-and-place jobs, application of sealants, assembly or handling operations of machine tools and arc welding.

Cylindrical robots

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The cylindrical robot has a rotary joint along the axis of the joint for rotary movement and a prismatic joint for linear movement.

A cylindrical robot has at least one swivel joint at the base and at least one prismatic joint for connecting the connections. Along the axis of the joint, the rotating joint uses a rotary movement; Along the prismatic articulation, it moves in a linear movement. Its movements take place inside a cylindrical work envelope. Cylindrical robots are used for assembly, manipulation of machine tools and die casting and spot welding machines.

Spherical robots

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With its combined rotary joint, two rotary joints and a linear joint, the spherical robot operates on the polar coordinate system to obtain a spherical work envelope.

These are also known as polar robots. The arm is connected to the base with a swivel joint and has a combination of two rotary joints and a linear joint. The axes of the combined joints form a polar coordinate system and operate within a spherical-shaped work envelope. These robots are used for the movement of machine tools, spot welding, die casting, machines for extraction and arc and gas welding.

SCARA robot

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A SCARA robot is mainly used in assembly applications due to the nature of its movement, for example in jobs that require drilling or tapping.

SCARA robots are mainly used for assembly applications. The conforming arm, which has a cylindrical design, consists of two parallel joints that provide conformity in a selected plane. These robots are used for pick-and-place jobs, sealant application, assembly and handling operations of machine tools.

Robotic arms

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Robotic arms are some of the most common robots used today in production. They are essential for assembly operations that require heavy lifting or dangerous movements.

The robotic arms or articulated robots have rotating joints that can vary from a simple two-joint structure to a complicated structure with 10 or more joints. The arm is connected to a base which has a swivel joint. The rotating joints connect the connections on the arm; Each joint is a different axis and offers an additional degree of freedom. Industrial robotic arms have four or six axes. These robots are mainly used for assembly, die casting, casting, arc and gas welding machines and for the application of paints.

Parallel robots

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Parallel or delta robots are often used in pick-and-place operations, such as sorting jobs for drugs and food.

Parallel robots are also known as delta robots. They are constructed from articulated parallelograms connected to a common base. Parallelograms move a single end of the arm tools into a dome-shaped envelope. They are mainly used in the food, pharmaceutical and electronics industries. The robot itself is able to perform precise movements, making it ideal for picking and positioning operations.

Robot with wheels

Wheeled robots are vehicle based and change positions with the help of a guidance or location system. Such robots are easy to build mechanically and have a low associated cost. Easy to move, these robots operate in different environments and are available in various shapes, including single wheel, two wheels, three wheels, four wheels, multiple wheels and tracks.

DRC-Hubo has won the DARPA Robotics Challenge 2015 for performing complex tasks, such as driving a car and opening doors. (Image courtesy of KAIST and Rainbow Co.)

An example of a robot on wheels is the ARTI crawler robotics platform developed by Transcend Robotics. Intended for unmanned operation of land vehicles, the design can handle a wide variety of loads and scale most of the terrain, thanks to its patented protective seals. The joints help stabilize the platform on difficult terrain, ensuring you can climb the steps without tipping over. It can be used on uneven ground, as well as for transporting equipment to a warehouse or office building. The robot is customizable, which means users can add sensors, robotic arms or different payloads to complete an activity.

Robot with legs

Leg-mounted robots are also mobile robots, but with more complicated movements. The robots have motorized leg appendages to control their locomotion, allowing them to operate effectively on uneven terrain. However, these robots tend to cost more because of their complexity. Varieties of leg-legged robots include single leg, two legs / biped (humanoid), three legs / tri-pedal, four legs / quadruped, six legs (six-legged hexapod) and multi-legged robots.

The DRC-Hubo robot is an example of a robot with legs. He was a finalist in first place in the DARPA Robotics Challenge in 2015. He had to perform complex tasks such as driving a car, cutting holes in walls, opening doors and negotiating rough and uneven terrain. The robot works with two legs, but takes advantage of the possibility of using integrated rollers on the knees. This feature helped Hubo complete the required skills activities in the shortest time possible.