New Kuka Products Debut at IROS 2008: Holonomic Mecanum Base and Educational Arm

Kuka unveiled two prototype products at IROS 2008 in September, both ultimately targeting educational use.  The first product was very sleek holonomic (omnidirectional) base employing mecanum wheels.  The second product was a cute little 5 DOF (plus 1 DOF gripper) arm.  While the Kuka representatives mentioned possible price-points of $3,500 for the base and $4,000 for the arm, there was no mention of a timetable.  See below for additional discussion and videos!  Updated July 26th 2010: The initial price-points were (admittedly) entirely too optimistic for such a high-quality arm and base, especially since each use real-time Ethercat controllers.  Kuka recently began offering an official product (named YouBot) that is available for around $24,000 -- still a great value when compared to other mobile manipulation platforms.

Pictures of the prototype products are shown below.  


Kuka Mecanum Robot Base   Kuka 5DOF (plus 1DOF gripper) Educational Arm


From the image above, you can see a small circular mount on one of the base's bodies.  I asked about the striking similarity between the base's mount and the size of the arm.  As I suspected, I was told that a previous version of the arm was designed to mount the mecanum base.

As mentioned before, the Kuka representatives mentioned possible price-points of $3,500 for the base and $4,000 for the arm.  This means that an entire mobile manipulation robotic system with base, arm, and laser rangefinder (such as the Hokuyo URG-04LX shown,  which runs just under $2,500) could be had for less than $10,000 -- quite impressive!  Updated July 26th 2010:  Even though these original price points were overly optimistic, the new price-point of $24,000 is still pretty unbelievable when compared to other mobile manipulation platforms.

Just imagine... attach a vacuum to the underside and you have a robot that not only vacuums, but picks up the floor.  I need one of those!  Anyway, here are some videos showing each of the prototype products in action (the mecanum base video provided by Matt Baumann, as it was immobile when I passed by the kiosk).




Incidentally, here is a higher resolution (photoshopped) image of the very cool mecanum base.



Kuka Mecanum Robot Base



Great little car! Kuka is such a fantastic company.
Nice work! 

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