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Programming Robots with ROS by William D. Smart, Brian Gerkey, Morgan Quigley

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Chapter 18. Your Own Robot Arm

In Chapters 16 and 17, we learned how to add ROS support for a new mobile robot, from modeling and simulation to autonomous navigation. Here we’re going to follow the same pattern, but this time for a robot arm, or manipulator. We learned about manipulation in general and how to use an existing ROS-supported robot arm in Chapter 11. Now we’ll walk through how to add a new robot arm, including configuring MoveIt to perform path planning.

CougarBot

We’re going to build a new manipulator. For inspiration, we go back to the earliest industrial robot arms, which were produced by the Unimation company in the 1960s. Founded by George Devol and Jospeh Engelberger, Unimation provided robot arms first to General Motors, then to other companies and industries, forever changing the nature of manufacturing worldwide. In 1966, Engelberger introduced robots to the general public when he appeared on the Tonight Show with one of his machines, demonstrating for Johnny Carson how a robot could pour a beer, conduct an orchestra, and putt a golf ball. Shown in Figure 18-1 is one of Unimation’s later models, from its PUMA (Programmable Universal Machine for Assembly) series of robot arms.

Unimation PUMA 500
Figure 18-1. An example of Unimation’s PUMA series of robot arms (source: Wikimedia Commons)

In honor of the contributions made by these early machines, we’ll create a similar robot ...

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