Robot arms were once, and still are to some extent, the purview of well-funded industrial operations. Cheaper and much less capable options are available, but UFactory has developed something different with its xArm — now on Kickstarter.
UFactory’s industrial-style arm system starts at $2,299 for their five-axis model, up to the $5,999 for their top of the line seven-axis xArm 7. For those used to the six-axis setups very common in industry, that style is also available for $4,999. As with any robotic arm, you can attach your own tooling; however, they do offer a thumb/index finger-style gripper, as well as a suction cup mechanism if you’d like to get started right away.
XArm is powered by an X86 processor, capable of running its complex movement algorithm, and features a built-in camera for visual processing. Programming can be accomplished by physically moving the arm, via a graphical interface, or through a Python IDE built into their xArm Studio package.
Even at a fraction of the price of most industrial robots, these devices still pack some impressive specs, likely due in part to their weight-saving carbon fiber construction. The xArm 7, for instance, is able to work with a 3.5Kg payload, and capable of positioning repeatability of ±.1mm over a 691mm range. Manufacturing and research are the most obvious applications for a device like this, but it could also be used as an automated cameraman, a robotic bartender, or a wide variety of uses yet to be thought of!