Recommendations mobile manipulator for university

asked 2017-09-11 08:01:39 -0600

gtoff gravatar image

updated 2017-09-11 14:56:54 -0600

Hi everybody,

I'm looking for recommendations / experiences / suggestions for robotic hardware for mobile manipulation with ROS.

We have some practical experience with Turtlebots 2 concerning simple application on top of SLAM and navigation with ROS, but we'd like to also gather some knowledge concerning grasping and mobile manipulation using MoveIt. We've come to realize that simulation only didn't really cut it for us in SLAM/navigation, we expect the same for manipulation.

I'm by no means a robotic (nor hardware) expert. I've taken a look at what options are on the market and it seems to me that there are basically only two types of options for "ROS-supported" HW:

  1. light robots (e.g., TB2 / 3) with light arms (max 0.5 Kg payload): e.g., Niryo, PhantomX, Widow-X -> reasonably cheap, few thousand $

  2. heavier ("research" or industrial grade) robots with industrial-grade arms ( starting from 3kg payloads): Kinova, UR, Kuka, Robotis... -> >= ~50K $ per robot (mobile base + arm + sensors)

Could I please ask what other ROS practitioners have been using and what has been their experience with assembly and control using MoveIt?

Has anybody been able to assemble a mid-range robot for a mid-range price? For instance I'd be happy enough if the robot would be heavy and strong enough to open a door...

Thanks in advance for any pointer and suggestion.

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Not an answer, but: a UR5 is probably not $50K. Here in Europe they should sell for a little more than half of that. And there are cheaper arms available as well.

gvdhoorn gravatar image gvdhoorn  ( 2017-09-11 09:10:23 -0600 )edit

Thank you @gvdhoorn.

You are right, I was imprecise. Industrial arms only start from 20K (e.g., ), but I was implying the combination of docking mobile base + arm + gripper + sensor gets you quickly in the 50K ballpark.

gtoff gravatar image gtoff  ( 2017-09-11 09:45:48 -0600 )edit

Ah, then I misunderstood you. Thanks for the clarification.

gvdhoorn gravatar image gvdhoorn  ( 2017-09-11 09:46:25 -0600 )edit

Doors are surprisingly hard; even the PR2 had trouble with heavy doors and strangely shaped door handles.

ahendrix gravatar image ahendrix  ( 2017-09-11 13:37:40 -0600 )edit

I hear the robots from Fetch are nice for mobile manipulation, but I haven't seen one in action personally.

ahendrix gravatar image ahendrix  ( 2017-09-11 13:38:17 -0600 )edit

The Sawyer Robot sounds like it would be in what you consider the mid-range price point, 4kg payload, and a substantial level of ROS support: Disclaimer: I work for Rethink and wrote most of the Research Robot software for Sawyer.

imcmahon gravatar image imcmahon  ( 2017-09-11 13:52:52 -0600 )edit

Thanks @ahendrix.

Indeed, no matter the robot mass I imagine you need to get the exact motion right, or the door won't move... As for the Fetch manipulator, at this site is well above 50K:

gtoff gravatar image gtoff  ( 2017-09-11 13:55:55 -0600 )edit

Thank you @imcmahon

AFAIK the Sawyer comes for ~29K$ without a moving base, correct? Adding base (plus its sensors) and docking station goes up again to ~50. As I was saying above, arms start at 20K and bases at ~15K, plus you need sensors and grippers.

gtoff gravatar image gtoff  ( 2017-09-11 14:17:31 -0600 )edit