Industrial robots have been relegated to large warehouses and manufacturing plants, but now there is a Kickstarter campaign for a basic industrial arm for nontraditional markets. Niryo One is a six-axis robotic arm that is made for makers, classrooms, and small companies.
It's powered by Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and Robot Operating System (ROS). It will be open source, with STL files and source code released on github when the product is released in September. By using standard electronic components and 3D printing the plastic parts of the robot, the robot's creators (two French engineers and self-described makers) were able to keep costs relatively low. The introductory price is less than $1,000. With a month left in the campaign, Niryo has already doubled its $21,610 goal.
Niryo One looks and performs like common industrial robots, so it could be an excellent educational tool for robotics students or tinkerers to see how well their coding skills work in real life.
Niryo CTO Edouard Renard tells ZDNet, "The robot is connected and has many interfaces for different levels: experienced users can dive into the code, while beginners can use the mobile application, learn to program with Blockly (graphical block programming interface integrated in Niryo app), or just teach the robot with their hands."
Small companies could also use the robot to demonstrate how they use similar robotic arms in their factories or just for marketing at events. Renard says that Niryo has already been contacted by companies wanting to use the robot to show off their products. Plus, it can be used to automate simple repetitive tasks, such as picking up objects and placing them in bins.
Finally, staff at small companies will use the Niryo One to learn how to use industrial robots. It runs using the same ROS software as the latest cobots, but at one tenth of the price, so it's a safe way to practice without messing with an expensive fleet of full-sized robots.
Renard says, "At Niryo we want to democratize robotics and allow everyone to reproduce industrial use cases at home, at work, at school, and learn robotics with an industrial-like robot." He adds, "The same happened to CNC machines and 3D printers. First used in industry only, they are now accessible for everyone: modeled after industrial machines, but brought to people by becoming low-cost and easy to use."