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Modular robot control system allows users to mix-and-match

25 May, 2016

The Taiwanese automation manufacturer Nexcom has announced an open, modular robot control technology that allows users to mix-and-match components such as controllers, robots, and servodrives to suit their applications.

The EtherCat-based system, called NexRobo, will give users the freedom to build, expand and reconfigure their robotic installations to provide the functions needed for their applications. By creating tailored robot applications using a combination of hardware and software building blocks, manufacturers will be able to keep their expertise in-house, Nexcom suggests.

The system’s flexibility is enhanced by the use of an EtherCat Master development stack called NexECM that provides pre-validated compatibility and smooth communications between Nexcom’s EtherCat master controllers and slave modules from a choice of suppliers. Control algorithms are pre-written and APIs embedded to accelerate the planning and control of industrial robot installations, including six-axis articulated arms, four-axis delta robots, and four-axis Scara robots.

There is a choice of four EtherCat master controllers with Intel processors ranging in power from Atom to i7 models. At present, the system supports three Hiwin robot arms as well as servodrives and motors from Panasonic, Yaskawa, Servotronix and Hiwin. Users can also choose items such as machine vision cameras, slave I/Os, and teach pendants.

Nexcom's modular NexRobo technology will allow manufacturers to to create customised robot applications

As well as being used to control industrial robots, the technology can also be coordinated with other EtherCat-based industrial automation and control systems. For example, it could be linked to integrated production lines, collaborative robots, machine vision systems, and other advanced control applications.

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