Robots were initially crane-like industrial manipulators or arms, and along with automated guided vehicles (AGV) marked the beginning of industrial robots. Many academic institutions acquire very expensive commercial manipulators for laboratory instruction, but these systems have limited utility in an academic setting as they are difficult to customize for practical experiments in topics like modeling, kinematics, dynamics, path planning, control and sensing including vision, as information regarding construction, parameters, interfaces and software are not made available to end users.
A few low-cost multi-link robot manipulators are available on the market, but their power is limited being based on RC servos. Their utility for student experiments in robotics is also limited. Our robot manipulators come with 2-links and 3-links, are powered by geared DC servomotors with optical encoders, and can be used for experiments in modeling, forward and inverse kinematics, path planning, controller design, and machine vision. Their cost is quite low compared to commercial manipulators, and can be further lowered by use of lower cost DC motors, open source or embedded microcontrollers, and so on.
CIM Work Cell
Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM) systems also known as Flexible Manufacturing Systems (FMS) are central to modern manufacturing industries. Most commercial didactic systems are very expensive and have limited applications like sorting, distribution, and so on. Our 2- and 3-link manipulators can be combined with industrial subsystems like rotary tables, conveyor belts, and machine vision to develop from scratch an educational CIM system at a fraction of the cost of commercial systems. Like many of TLC’s other laboratory learning modules, the CIM systems can also be customized, maintained and upgraded by end users.