Robots for University education and Research

Dear all,

I have just been hired to help start a new robotics lab here at the University of Central Lancashire. As it is often the case with applied research, this lab is partly funded by the private sector and not much by the government. Thus, we have little funding.

I would like to buy good education robots and mobile one as well. The project shall investigate flexible manufacturing using articulated robots on mobile platforms. Of course, I cannot buy industrial material since our local is too small, but I still need to buy serious devices which can survive a lot of experiments. I have come across a few good proposal but they do not seem to be too many affordable robots between the toys and the industrial ones.

What do you suggest I look for ? I would like some poeple to givbe advice on robots they have used ?

Luc Rolland, PhD

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I found this attractive:

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SG5-UT Basic Kit 399 USD Without servos etc.. 279 USD

Could at least serve as inspiration.


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The small robots from ActivMedia at

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are among the most commonly used for research, when the lab hasn't built their own. Look especially at the Pioneer base. The base itself is fairly affordable; start putting SICK lasers on the thing and the sensors easily outcost the base. So it all depends on what you add to it.

Don't overloak the hobby bases (not toys, but not research-quality, either). Most folks can't afford 10 Pioneers to test robot swarming idea, but they can easily afford 10 Boe-bots.

-- Gordon

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Gordon McComb

"Gordon McComb"

Gordon beat me in this one :-)

In our lab (intelligent machines and systems lab at San Diego State University), we have 2 pioneers, a DX (two wheels + caster) and the AT (4 wheels). They are nice platforms for indoor activity and some outdoor (not so rugged terrain). They have easy to use SDK's and they surely save a lot of time. They are pricey though.

I'm following a different path and I'm building my own platform using RC cars. Several universities are following this trend lately, mainly because they are very cheap and parts are readily available. You may want to look into it.

For manipulators we have one puma and two scaras, old stuff but still works.



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The vision recognition on the Evolution Robotics Scorpion is unmatched. It is thier high-end version of the ER1 hobbyist kit (which they no longer sell or support.) You can find ER1 kits on eBay from time to time, for anywhere from $500 to $1500. Also, they mention that universities get a 75% discount on the ERSP SDK.

Here's a couple of links to them:

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Caution: I don't know how much if any they support the ERSP for the Scorpion. They just soft of unceremoniously deleted their entire forum for ER1 owners. It's kind of hard to tell if they even offer the Scorpion from their current website, but I would recommend that it is at least worth a look.

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