Product News: Beckhoff’s ATRO industrial robot

July 12, 2022
Touted as a compact, multi-axis system that supports rapid robot assembly and programming.

Beckhoff's ATRO industrial robot

With Automation Technology for Robotics (ATRO), Beckhoff promises a breakthrough concept for robotics applications. This modular system enables extreme flexibility in robot kinematics to fit essentially any application with payloads up to 10 kg and reach of up to 1.3 meters, notes its maker. With ATRO, users can select the exact number of axes required and quickly assemble the exact robot or cobot needed for their application, says Beckhoff, which spotlights the modular robotic system's internal media feeds for data, power and fluids are designed to support continuous rotation of all robot axes.

With a wide variety of modules, ATRO gives users the power to create almost any custom robot design within the rated payloads for their application—from a simple single-axis rotary indexing table application and delta kinematics up to multi-axis articulated robots, claims Beckhoff. Expansive configurations with as many as 16 robotic arms are possible. The adapted structures are simply scanned by the control software, and the TwinCAT robotics functions automatically create the corresponding control application, including a digital twin. For robot teaching with ATRO, users move the custom assembled robot arm into the desired positions and set them via a user interface.

The robot system is based on EtherCAT and directly integrated into PC-based control technology, resulting in an optimized and complete solution for machines and plants. This reduces the number of controllers needed to just one industrial PC, even for multiple robots.

ATRO kinematics are made up of active joints—the motor modules. These are available in different designs: straight modules in I-shape or angled modules in L-shape, which are designed in five power sizes. Each motor module forms a complete drive system for one axis of the robot. The only external components required are a power supply and a controller, which reduces the space required in the control cabinet. 

Modules are interconnected via the ATRO interface, which guarantees a rigid mechanical connection along with reliable, continuous media feeds. Data, power and other lines, such as compressed air, vacuum or water are guided internally through the ATRO kinematics modules. 

With ATRO, Beckhoff promises an inherently flexible robot system that integrates all essential machine functionalities due to its deep integration into standard TwinCAT automation software and EtherCAT, which allows the control of multiple ATRO robots from a single controller. These include, for example, image processing for sophisticated applications, improving motion performance through machine learning or direct cloud integration for analysis and maintenance. The use of open interfaces and universal standards enables plug-and-play of the custom robot configuration as well as simple engineering.