The concept of a modular robot certainly isn’t new, but their modules usually aren’t actually self-contained. Each module may have a host of sensors or its own motors, but still relies on a central controller to tell it what to do. Acutronic Robotics’ new MARA (Modular Articulated Robotic Arm) is different, and every module has it’s own H-ROS SoM (System on Module) running ROS 2.0. That means that each module is self-contained, but still able to communicate with the rest of the robot.
The goal of MARA is to provide a robotic arm platform that can be seamlessly expanded according to your needs. Because each and every module is running ROS (Robot Operating System) 2.0, they’re able to operate independently of their neighbors. Those modules could be a segment of the arm, a set of sensors, an end effector, or something completely new. And, since ROS 2.0 is open source, it’s possible for third parties — or you — to design and integrate new modules.
That’s possible thanks to Acutronic Robotics’ H-ROS SoM, which is essentially its own computer running ROS 2.0. Each and every module gets an H-ROS SoM, making them plug-and-play. A sensor module, for example, could gather and process complex data readings, and then simply pass on the relevant information to the other modules. An actuator module could maintain its own position without having to communicate with the rest of the system.
Pre-orders for MARA start on December 10th, though pricing hasn’t been announced yet. When you order MARA, you’ll be able design exactly the robot you want using the Acutronic Robotics Robot Customizer. You can, for instance, choose how many degrees of freedom you want and what kind of end effector you need. The modular nature of the platform means that you can build the robot arm that best fits your needs.