Arms as strong as Popeye!

12. May 2022

For our rover, a manipulator is needed to perform different, challenging tasks.

During the European Rover Challenge, our rover Meyer 1 faces multiple challenges. For example, different plugs need to be inserted into a panel and buttons need to be pressed. Furthermore, samples and probes need to be taken. For all these tasks, a complex manipulator that is strong is needed.

The solution: A framework structure coupled with intelligent servo motors by our sponsor Robotis. The framework structure made from waterjet cut aluminum is an optimal lightweight solution and ensures the arm, which is about 70 cm. long, weighs in under 3 Kg. The robotis servo motors themselves also serve as bearings, as the axial and radial loads are not too large. This makes our job quite a bit easier and makes putting everything together a bit like playing with Lego. Below you can see our manipulator.

To control the arm, we have a digital model of our manipulator that can be viewed on a pc screen. A software uses input from a PS4 controller to convert inputs into motions for the different axes. This motion is then added to the simulated model and the actual manipulator at the same time. Through the smart servos that we control via RS-485, the software always knows where exactly an axis is, how much current/torque it uses and if the desired position could be reached. Below, you can see the simulated replica of the manipulator seen above.

Check out our sponsor Robotis!

Tags: erc-rover, erc2022, fhnw, motors

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