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ANAT: Modular Robots - By : Charles Khairallah,

ANAT: Modular Robots


ANAT

For many years, the lack of flexibility and versatility with the architecture of robots had been adversely affecting their performance. Most research in robotics has aimed for improvement in programming, computer vision and artificial intelligence.

The ANAT (Articulated Nimble Adaptable Trunk) technology constitutes a technical breakthrough for the future of robotics. It was invented in 1997 by the founder of Robotics Design Inc., Charles Khairallah. The use of this patented technology permits the design of robust and intelligent robots equipped with a configurable modular architecture.

This invention consists of a combination of U‑shaped and H‑shaped motorized modules, variably interconnected to form robots of different shapes. The previous generation modular robots were made of L‑shaped modules and lacked robustness and flexibility. When several U‑ and H‑shaped modules are connected together, they can be configured to become manipulators, mobile robots, flexible ergonomic arms (up to 32 DOF), and much more. These modules can be rotary or prismatic types, or mounted with wheels, thus providing a complete robotic system. Each module is equipped with an actuator in such a way as to rotate the second module with respect to the first. The actuator, although connected to the other module, is never subjected to other loads that are placed on that module. Usually, the first and second structural modules are provided with mechanisms that significantly increase the rigidity of the overall structure.

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Figure 1 The ANATROLLERTM ARE-100 is a heavy-duty advanced modular mobile robotic platform based on patented ANATTM technology for education and research.

Statistics and scientific literature show that modular robotics is a growth market: the robots of the future will be modular and custom built. Thus, owing to its modularity and flexibility, the ANAT technology is able to effectively meet these new challenges.

In addition to its simplicity and robustness, ANAT stands out from other technologies because of its low production cost (only one type of module manufactured in large quantities allows the construction of all types of robots). Other advantages include simplicity of design, versatility of modularity as well as significant resolution. These robots excel in circumventing obstacles in tight work spaces. Their robustness allows them to pull heavy payloads and move at high speed with optimized power consumption.

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Figure 2 The ANATERGOARMTM AEA-15 is an ergonomic manual modular arm used as a mount for pneumatic, electrical and hydraulic tools.

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Figure 3 The ANATTM AME-100 is a modular industrial robot manipulator with exceptional obstacle avoidance capabilities.

The advanced control system, developed on a PC platform, is integrated inside the robot: no external unit is required. It is connected to each module and operated by PC interface via a high-speed serial network, which is connected to the control center. The system is able to perform real-time trajectory forecasts, dynamic control loops and effectively use inverse kinematics algorithms. Unlike standard robots that have singularity problems, ANAT robots have no difficulty with inverse kinematics calculations or obstacle avoidance, thanks to their smart algorithmic controls. The wide range of modules gives ANAT robots great flexibility and maximal agility. The ANAT software allows real time simulation and visualization of the movements of the robot using a new generation of 2D or 3D user-friendly interfaces.

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Figure 4 ANATROLLERTM ARI-50 mobile and modular robot, designed to perform inspections and maintenance activities in ventilation ducts

ANAT has a significant impact on industrial productivity, as its modularity enables it to adapt to an infinite number of configurations that can be found on an assembly line; each robot can perform specific and different operations depending on the module setup. That modularity allows for robot manufacturing cost reduction and increased fault tolerence. Indeed, if one module fails, it can easily be replaced, without affecting the rest of the robot, thus making repairs simple and inexpensive. Reducing manufacturing costs enables the creation of fully automated factories, with price competitive production, without offshoring. Modular robots perform repetitive tasks more efficiently than the workforce, resulting in increased productivity in many plants worldwide and would reduce the cost of their products. Using our technology will facilitate the workforce’s transition from the industrial age to the modern era, allowing it to shift into more innovative and intellectual tasks.

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Figure 5 The ANATROLLERTM ARI-100, mobile robot specially dedicated to clean, to inspect ducts, and customizable with addition of accessories for specialized uses.

We believe that this “Robotics Revolution” will result in a better quality of manufactured products, made faster, with fewer errors and defects, using less energy. These changes, all the while increasing productivity, will have a positive impact on the environment.

In a foreseeable future, for safety reasons, robots will replace humans in a variety of tasks. For example, in the fields of safety, defence, mining exploration, space exploration or other tasks where workers’ safety is threatened, modular robots will be used, thus significantly reducing workplace injuries.

Additional Information

To learn more about the ANAT technology and Robotics Design, visit the following websites:


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