Delta robots are so yesterday — Here come the four-armed parallel robots

17 March 2014

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X4 four-armed parallel robot developped at Tsinghua University Well, Delta robots may no longer be considered a novelty (at least the visitors of our robotics lab are no longer impressed by our FlexPicker), they are certainly here to stay. A new breed of four-armed parallel robots, however, starts to emerge. The first and best known member of this new family is the Quattro robot, introduced by Adept Technology in 2009, but several new examples are about to be launched. The main advantage of these new parallel robots is the elimination of the passive prismatic strut of 4-DOF Delta robots, which is the most problematic part in Delta robots.

Who said China can’t build original fine-quality parallel robots

While, so far, all Chinese robot manufacturers build standard six-axis industrial robots and conventional Delta robots, one of the top universities in China has just developped a novel four-armed parallel robot. Professor Xin-Jun Liu and his team from Tsinghua University (Beijing) patented and built one of the first pick-and-place parallel robots with four identical legs and unarticulated mobile platform, called the X4.

The X4 four-armed parallel robot developped at Tsinghua University

When I visited Professor Liu’s lab in 2010, I was particularly impressed with the number of collaborations he has with industry. He has developped a number of parallel kinematic machines (PKMs), but this is his first endevour in material handling. It is only a matter of time before this robot becomes available in industry, at least in China.

Europe is still where most pick-and-place robots originate from

Most know that the Delta robot was invented by the Swiss professor Reymond Clavel (now retired), but few probably know that the Quattro was the product of a collaboration between researchers from LIRMM in France and Fatronik in Spain. The next four-armed parallel robot to hit the market this summer was developped in the Netherlands by Penta Robotics. Their Veloce has the same arms as the Quattro and the X4, but features modular design and an articulated mobile platform.

The Veloce four-armed parallel robot developped by Penta Robotics

Ilian Bonev Ilian Bonev is professor at École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS) and holder of the Canada Research Chair in Precision Robotics.
Ilian Bonev Ilian Bonev is professor at École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS) and holder of the Canada Research Chair in Precision Robotics.

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