AI News, Harvard's milliDelta Robot Is Tiny and Scary Fast

Harvard's milliDelta Robot Is Tiny and Scary Fast

In terms of sheer speed and precision, delta robots are some of the most impressive to watch.

Moving all the motors to the base of the robot instead means that there’s way less mass that you have to move around, which is how delta robots can, in general, accelerate so rapidly and move so precisely.

The second clever thing is that the end-effector of a delta robot—the bit where the arms come together—can stay parallel to the work surface (delta robots are a type of parallel robot).

What’s really impressive, though, is the speed: It can reach velocities of 0.45 m/s, and accelerations of 215 m/s2, meaning that it can follow repeating patterns at a frequency of up to 75 Hz.

Once assembled, the sandwiches were laser-micromachined into the right shapes and then assembled with the aid of a jig, although the researchers say that a pop-up approach to fabrication could be used to help automate the assembly process to make it easier and more consistent.

One less obvious but very compelling use-case for milliDelta is assisting humans in delicate microsurgery—the robot is fast enough that it can compensate for the natural tremors that surgeons experience, which could make things like eye surgery less risky.

It was designed by Raymond Clavel, a professor at EPFL, and here’s part of the story: One of the Robotics lab’s teaching assistants came back from a visit to a chocolate-maker with an idea: why not develop a robot that could place chocolate pralines in their packages automatically?

This tiny robot moves so fast it’s just a blur on camera

You can see some standard delta robots in action in the video below, picking and placing salami: The milliDelta takes this same basic configuration, but uses new components to shrink in size while retaining the characteristics that make delta bots useful.

“Most currently available delta robots are around a couple of hertz, so a couple of picks per second, and our delta robot can move up to 75 hertz — so it’s 15 to 25 times higher frequency than anything that’s currently available.” The milliDelta could be put to work doing the same sort of pick and place tasks that regular delta robots do, just at a much smaller scale.

“You have problems with tremors when you’re operating in such a small area, so the milliDelta could be used as a tremor-counteracting end-effector for eye surgery.” In other words, it would be placed on the end of surgical tool, with its movements cancelling out the natural wobbles of the surgeon’s hands — like a small version of the self-stabilizing spoons used by Parkinson’s sufferers to compensate for tremors while eating.

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Pop-up MEMS, as they’re now known, are essentially robots made from flat sheets of composite materials that use dynamic engineering to move around, walk, or even fly away.

“The physics of scaling told us that bringing down the size of Delta robots would increase their speed and acceleration, and pop-up MEMS manufacturing with its ability to use any material or combination of materials seemed an ideal way to attack this problem,” said Wood in a statement.

Delta robots were invented way back in the 1980s and were used for “pick and place” work which, just like it sounds, involved picking things off of a conveyer belt and putting them in a place.

Delta robot

A delta robot is a type of parallel robot.[2] It consists of three arms connected to universal joints at the base.

The delta robot (a parallel arm robot) was invented in the early 1980s by a research team led by professor Reymond Clavel at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL, Switzerland).[5] After a visit to a chocolate maker, a team member wanted to develop a robot to place pralines in their packages.[6] The purpose of this new type of robot was to manipulate light and small objects at a very high speed, an industrial need at that time.

In 1991 Reymond Clavel presented his doctoral thesis 'Conception d'un robot parallèle rapide à 4 degrés de liberté',[7] and received the golden robot award in 1999 for his work and development of the delta robot.

In 2017 Harvard's Microrobotics Lab researcher Hayley McClintock miniaturized it with piezoelectric actuators to 0.43 grams for 15 mm x 15 mm x 20 mm, capable of moving a 1.3g payload around a 7 cubic millimeter workspace with a 5 micrometers precision, reaching 0.45 m/s speeds with 215 m/s² accelerations and repeating patterns at 75 Hz.[8] The delta robot is a parallel robot, i.e.

Vertical linear actuators have recently been used (using a linear delta design) to produce a novel design of 3D printer.[13][14] These offer advantages over conventional leadscrew-based 3D printers of quicker access to a larger build volume for a comparable investment in hardware.

This Tiny Coin-Sized Robot Arm Not Only Moves Incredibly Fast But Can Also Help Save Lives

Researchers at Harvard have succeeding in creating a robot that they say is the fastest and most precise ever built.

Image courtesy: Wyss Institute at Harvard University The milliDelta, as it’s called, is so fast it’s just an incomprehensible blur on camera, zipping back and forth at up to 75 motions a second.

And this kind of speed could make the bot invaluable in a number of cases, the creators say, from working in assembly lines to assisting with delicate surgery.

Unlike industrial robots, which make motorised arm joints, delta robots only have motors in the central base station with arms arranged in a triangle so they can be controlled by those motors.

Because of how small it is and how fast it moves, the applications for an assembly line with small-scale products like circuit boards is obvious, but the researchers have other ideas too.

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