Beckhoff introduces modular robot system

Beckhoff Automation Pty Ltd

Monday, 18 July, 2022

Beckhoff introduces modular robot system

Beckhoff has introduced a modular robot concept, through a modular system from which the right robot kinematics can be put together flexibly to suit the application. A highlight of the system is the internal media feed for data, power and fluids.

Known as ATRO, the system allows users to create almost any robot design for their application from the modules provided — from a simple single-axis rotary indexing table application and delta kinematics, through to multi-axis articulated robots.

Examples include:

  • a 1-axis rotary indexing table with integrated power feed
  • a 2-axis tracking unit
  • a 3-axis delta robot
  • a 4-axis SCARA
  • a 5-axis palletising robot
  • a 6-axis serial robot
  • a 7-axis system to increase the reach/articulation for hard-to-reach areas.

ATRO kinematics are made up of active joints — the motor modules. The motor modules are available in different designs: straight modules in I-shape or angled modules in L-shape, which are designed in five power sizes. Each motor module forms a drive system for one axis of the robot. The only external components required are a power supply and a control, which significantly reduces the space required in the control cabinet. In addition to the active modules, there are connection modules without their own drive:

  • Base modules as a base including the media feed.
  • Link modules with I, L and Y shapes for implementing individual robot configurations.
  • System modules that can be used to integrate additional functions such as a camera.

All modules are interconnected via the ATRO interface, which provides a rigid connection and also passes through the media that is fed in. Data, power and fluids (compressed air, vacuum or water) are thus guided internally through the modules in the ATRO kinematics. Conventional robotic solutions, on the other hand, route them externally, creating limitations in rotation and use of the workspace. Because this limitation is completely eliminated with ATROS, according to Beckhoff each axis can be rotated endlessly, which enables better Cartesian accessibility as well as short positioning paths. Furthermore, interfering contours, for example due to externally located cables and, especially in the case of cobots, interfering torques, are avoided.

With ATRO, Beckhoff offers a highly flexible robot system that has all essential machine functionalities due to its deep integration into the TwinCAT automation software. These include, for example, image processing for sophisticated applications (such as bin picking), improvement of motion performance through machine learning or direct cloud integration for analysis and maintenance. The use of open interfaces and universal standards enables plug-and-play of the created robot configuration as well as simple engineering.

This variety of functions concentrated in one control minimises hardware costs and also ensures maximum synchronisation of all components as well as low delays in data communication.

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