An articulated robot is an industrial robot with rotary joints similar to those found in human arms, giving it a wide range of motion and flexibility. Because of this feature, they are ideal for performing complex tasks in various industries, including manufacturing, automotive, aerospace, and electronics.

Articulated robots are typically powered by electric motors. They range from simple, two-jointed structures to systems with 10 or more interacting joints and materials. The more axes of motion a robot has, the greater its range of motion and flexibility.

Read More about an Articulated Robot

Articulated robots are a valuable tool for many industries. They can help improve productivity, accuracy, and safety. Learn more about them here.

How Does an Articulated Robot Work?

Articulated robots are made up of multiple connected pieces called “links,” which are connected by joints. These joints are designed to let the robots move with much flexibility, precision, and skill. Articulated robots can have 2–6 or more links, and each link gives the robot one more degree of freedom (DoF), which lets it move in different directions.

In other words, articulated robots are robots with multiple arms that can move in many different directions. They are very flexible and precise, making them suitable for many tasks like assembly, welding, and painting.

What Was the First Articulated Robot?

The first articulated robot was the Stanford Arm, invented by Victor Scheinman at Stanford University in 1969. The Stanford Arm was a six-axis articulated robot with electric motors to power its joints. This feature made it more precise and flexible than previous robots, typically powered by hydraulics.

The Stanford Arm was used for various tasks, including assembly, welding, and painting. It was also used for research in robotics and artificial intelligence (AI).

In 1970, Unimation, the first commercial robot company, introduced Unimate, which was based on the Stanford Arm. Unimate was the first articulated robot used in a commercial setting. General Motors used it to weld car bodies.

What Tasks Can an Articulated Robot Perform?

Articulated robots have come a long way since they were first invented. They have become one of the most versatile types of robots that can perform a wide range of tasks, including:

  • Assembly: Articulated robots are commonly used in assembly lines to assemble products, such as cars, electronics, and appliances. They can perform tasks like picking up and placing parts, screwing and tightening bolts, and welding.
  • Welding: They are well-suited for welding tasks because of their precision and ability to reach complex geometries. They are commonly used in the automotive, aerospace, and construction industries.
  • Painting: They can paint various products, such as cars and furniture. They can perform spray painting, powder coating, and dipping tasks.
  • Material handling: These robots can move materials around a factory or warehouse. They can be programmed to pick up and place objects, load and unload machines, and stack and palletize products.
  • Packaging: Articulated robots can be used to pack various products, ranging from food to pharmaceuticals. They can perform tasks, such as filling containers, labeling, and boxing products.
  • Palletizing: They can be used to palletize products, which involves stacking them on a pallet in a specific pattern. That makes it easier to transport and store the products.
  • Inspection: These robots can be used to inspect products for defects. They can use cameras and other sensors to detect flaws in a product’s appearance or dimensions.
  • Laboratory automation: Articulated robots can be used to automate tasks in laboratories, such as pipetting, mixing, and dispensing.
  • Search and rescue: They can search for and rescue people in dangerous or inaccessible environments.
  • Agriculture: These robots can be used to perform tasks in agriculture, such as harvesting, planting, and spraying.

What Benefits Does an Articulated Robot Provide?

Here are some of the key benefits articulated robots provide.

benefits of an articulated robot
  • Flexibility: Articulated robots can be programmed to move in various directions, allowing them to reach and manipulate objects in complex environments.
  • Precision: They are very precise, making them ideal for performing delicate tasks.
  • Speed: These robots can move very quickly, helping improve productivity in manufacturing and other settings.
  • Versatility: Articulated robots can perform various tasks, such as assembly, welding, painting, material handling, packaging, palletizing, and inspection.

What Challenges Does Using Articulated Robots Pose?

Articulated robots are a powerful tool for many industries but also present some challenges. These robots can be costly to purchase and maintain, making them less accessible to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). They are also complex machines and, hence, are difficult to program and operate.

Despite the challenges in building and using articulated robots, they are a valuable tool for many industries. They can help improve productivity, accuracy, and safety.

Key Takeaways