ATRO: The perfect robot for every application from Beckhoff

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Beckhoff ATRO print
Beckhoff ATRO print

With Automation Technology for Robotics (ATRO), Beckhoff is introducing a unique concept for robotics applications. ATRO is a modular system from which the right robot kinematics can be put together, flexibly for any application. A highlight of the system is the internal media feed for data, power, and fluids. It has been executed in such a way that all axes are designed to spin endlessly.

The new ATRO system from Beckhoff is a modular industrial robot system that can be utilized to assemble the optimal robot structures for different applications on an individual and flexible basis. With ATRO, users can construct almost any robot design for their application from the modules provided – from a simple 1-axis rotary indexing table application and delta kinematics to multi-axis articulated robots. Beckhoff's holistic perspective is assertive for simple commissioning and handling because only the direct integration of the robot system into PC-based control allows a truly optimized complete solution for the machine or plant. This exceeds the number of controls needed on one industrial PC, even with multiple robots.

ATRO kinematics are made up of active joints – the motor modules. The motor modules are available in different designs: straight modules in I-shape or angled modules in L-shape, which are developed 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 control, which significantly downsizes the space required in the control cabinet. In addition to the active modules, there are connection modules without their own drive base modules as a base including the media feed, link modules with I, L, and Y-shapes for implementing individual robot configurations, and system modules that can be used to incorporate supplementary operations such as a camera. 

All modules are interconnected via the ATRO interface, which assures a rigid connection and also passes through the media that is fed in. Data, power, and fluids (compressed air, vacuum, or water) are thus directed internally through the modules in the ATRO kinematics. Conventional robotic solutions, on the other hand, route them externally and are therefore restricted in rotation and use of the workspace.

This constraint is thoroughly eliminated with the Beckhoff solution – each axis can be rotated endlessly, which enables better Cartesian accessibility as well as short positioning paths. Furthermore, intrusive contours, e.g. due to externally located cables and, especially in the case of cobots, interfering torques, are avoided by means of external media feed. In addition, the media are supplied again for a customer application via the ATRO interfaces, and almost any robotic tools can be easily integrated, such as sophisticated gripper systems. 

With ATRO, Beckhoff offers a highly flexible robot system that has all essential machine functionalities due to its deep integration into the TwinCAT automation software that provides system integration without limits. These incorporate, for example, image processing for sophisticated applications (‘bin picking’), and modification of 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 created robot configuration as well as simple engineering.

This variety of functions concentrated in one control minimizes hardware costs and also ensures maximum synchronization of all components as well as low delays in data communication. This also includes the direct combination with intelligent transport solutions such as XTS and XPlanar. Other areas such as communication, functional safety, and the actual application can be created with little effort. This not only enables the configuration of an extremely powerful overall solution with maximized system output but also a previously unattainable reduction in machine footprint. 

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