KUKA youBot Robot Unveiled at Automatica: A Mecanum Base With 5 DOF Arm

KUKA youBot Robot with mecanum omnidirectional base and 5DOF arm

This week KUKA Robotics is demonstrating their latest product offering at the Automatica conference in Munich: the youBot robot.  YouBot is a mobile manipulating robot with a 5DOF arm coupled to a mecanum omnidirectional base -- essentially the same product that Hizook predicted when the individual components were being demonstrated at IROS 2008.  KUKA will start delivery in November for Germany (March for the US), and the robot will cost approx $24,000 USD (less with educational discounts), and components will be available separately.  The youBot looks to be a solid robot platform and is not encumbered by the large control boxes characteristic of some larger KUKA arms -- a few photos and videos are embedded below.

I had some early notification about the youBot unveiling at Automatica, but I am not fortunate enough to attend the event.  Our friends at IEEE Spectrum Automation Blog are much more fortunate than I... They have a great post about the product with plenty of photos and videos.  Additional details can be found on the Kuka youBot homepage.

KUKA youBot Robot   KUKA youBot Robot

 

Brief technical specs from KUKA:

  • youBot arm: serial kinematics with 5 degrees of freedom, 0.5kg payload, and EtherCAT communication
  • youBot gripper: 2-finger gripper attached to the arm
  • youBot platform: omnidirectional mobile platform with 4 KUKA omniWheels, 20kg payload, and EtherCAT communication
  • energy supply: one set of two batteries embedded into mobile platform for approx. 90 minutes of runtime.
  • on-board PC: mini ITX board form factor, embedded into the mobile platform

 

The design (particularly wheel design) has changed a bit since the individual components were first demonstrated at IROS in 2008:

KUKA youBot Robot Prototypes  KUKA youBot Robot Prototypes

 

It looks like KUKA also plans to offer individual components separately, as well as a number accessories (including the ability to add a second arm).

KUKA youBot Robot   KUKA youBot Robot   KUKA youBot Robot

 

Personally, I think the youBot would be even cooler (and certainly more capable) if it included a vertical linear actuator (like a Zippermast), which would allow the same grasping strategies on the floor as on tables and shelves.  This design is extolled in an Autonomous Robotics journal paper written by my advisor (Charlie Kemp) and labmate (Advait Jain).

Incidentally, I've also been told that an updated version of KUKA's OmniRob mobile manipulator will making an appearance at Automatica.  Let me know if you get any good pictures or videos.

 

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The official "KUKA youBot Store" is now online.

—Travis Deyle

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