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New multi-axis robot system

30 August 2022

BECKHOFF UK has announced its new concept for robotics applications with ATRO (Automation Technology for Robotics). With its multi-axis capabilities and modular design, ATRO’s kinematics can be assembled flexibly and offers an internal media feed for data, power and fluids, implemented in such a way that all axes can rotate endlessly.

The modular structure of ATRO allows users to create almost any robot design from the modules provided — from a simple 1-axis rotary indexing table application and delta kinematics, to multi-axis articulated robots. ATRO can create up to a 7-axis system, increasing the capacity and articulation for hard-to-reach areas.

The ATRO kinematics are made up of active joints — the motor modules, which form a complete drive system for one axis of the robot. The motor modules are available in different designs: straight modules in I-shape or angled modules in L-shape, which are designed in five power sizes. The only external components required are a power supply and a control, which significantly reduces the space required in control cabinets. In addition to the active modules, there are connection modules without their own drive: the base modules, link modules and system modules.

All modules are interconnected via the ATRO interface. This guarantees a rigid connection and ensures that the media that is fed in is transferred. Data, power and fluids — compressed air, vacuum or water — are guided internally through the modules in the ATRO kinematics.

Conventional robotic solutions, on the other hand, route them externally and are therefore limited in rotation and use of the workspace. This limitation is eliminated with Beckhoff’s solution — each axis can be rotated endlessly, which enables better Cartesian accessibility as well as short positioning paths.

The external media feed prevents interfering contours, for example interfering torques due to externally located cables. Almost any robotic tools, such as sophisticated gripper systems, can be easily integrated thanks to the ATRO interfaces.

“The ATRO robot system is highly flexible due to its deep integration into the TwinCAT automation software,” explained Stephen Hayes, managing director of Beckhoff UK. “What TwinCAT offers is image processing for sophisticated applications and improvement of motion performance through machine learning, which is essential for the robotic application.”

The ATRO robot can also be used in combination with intelligent transport solutions such as XTS and XPlanar, due to synchronisation that is available through the TwinCAT software.