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Robots for edutainment rely on CAN communication

The company Commonplace Robotics (Germany) develops robot arms and mobile platforms to be used in education, research and development. The devices use CAN network for internal communication.

COMPANY'S 3,5-KG FOUR-AXIS ROBOT ARM Mover4 is a education robot that can move free in space and turn the hand equipped with a two-finger gripper or an electromagnet. It can lift up to 500 g with a reach of 550 mm. Each axis contains a gear motor with encoder and a micro-controller attached to the CAN network. The robot arm internally connected via CAN, is controlled via USB by a PC or laptop. The programming environment CPRog (Windows) allows to start robot programming with its 3D user interface and the graphical program editor. Standard robot commands are implemented, beginning with joint and cartesian motions up to the integration of external vision systems via a socket connection. Packages for the ROS Robot Operating System (Linux) by Willow Garage for interfacing with robots are also available. The arm allows to replay automation scenarios close to reality and may be used as a motion platform for higher education, vocational schools, training on the job, service robotics, etc. It is not suitable for use in industrial production.

The 450-mm x 300-mm mobile platform Mecanum Slider carries up to 8 kg payload with omnidirectional movements. It is based upon a rugged aluminum chassis. The chassis offers lots of space for batteries and control electronics. The four mecanum wheels allow to drive forward and backward, sideways and to turn on the spot. The four drive motors with magnetic encoders are interconnected via CAN. An EIA-232 interface is provided as well. The platform comes with test software for Windows. Also available are ROS packages. A specific control system may also be used.
The slider is also not suitable for use in industrial production. The arm and the mobile platform may be combined to form a mobile service robot with on-board batteries and an ARM-Cortex Linux board.

The force torque sensor has been developed for the service robotics area. With a measurement range of ± 150 N it is suited for fetch and carry tasks, the interaction with the user and the operation in human environments. The measurement is done using six strain gauges, which measure the deformations of the sensor body. The electronics are integrated in the sensor: signal amplifier, AD-converter and CAN controller. There is no need for an external electronics box or a PC card. The measurement values are transferred via CAN with up to 1 Mbit/s and processed in the host computer. The 75-mm sensor (diameter) with height of 29 mm requires 12 V to 24 V power supply.
An example program (may be downloaded from company's website) demonstrates the communication and facilitates the start of operation. The required CAN adapter is also available by the manufacturer, but an other CAN adapter may also be used. The complete documentation of the CAN protocol allows the integration of the sensor in existing systems.

The company also provides a USB-to-CAN adapter for porting of CAN messages to a PC and vice versa. Supported are bit-rates up to 1 Mbit/s.

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Commonplace Robotics