Elephant Robotics Unveils the Modular, Raspberry Pi 4-Powered Six-Axis MechArm Robot Arm

Priced at $799 and running Ubuntu or ROS, the mechArm aims to put modular robotics on any desk.

Gareth Halfacree
2 years agoRobotics / HW101

Elephant Robotics has launched a new six-axis robot arm, dubbed the mechArm, and this one hides a surprise in the base: a housing for a Raspberry Pi 4 Model B to drive it.

"Have you ever imagined you could have a little robot that does everything? Not those giant ones in the sci-fi movies but a compact yet versatile robot," the company asks of its customers. "And we actually made it into reality. Introducing mechArm — the most compact six-axis robot arm ideal for markers, designers, & anyone who loves to create!"

Elephant Robotics is back with another desktop robot arm, the Raspberry Pi-powered mechArm. (📹: Elephant Robotics)

Inspired by its earlier myCobot design, the mechArm is a six-axis compact robot arm designed to sit on a desktop. Offering a 270mm working radius and 250g payload capacity (10.6" and 8.8oz respectively), the device ships with a somewhat outdated Ubuntu 18.04-based operating system but is also designed to run ROS — the Robot Operating System — via the on-board Raspberry Pi 4 single-board computer hidden in its base.

The new robot arm follows the launch of the myPalletizer late last year, powered by an M5Stack microcontroller. Designed for a reduced cost, the myPalletizer sells for just $499 — though with only four axes to the $599 six-axis myCobot that preceded it, which was also available in a $699 Raspberry Pi-powered flavor.

With the new mechArm costing $799, it's not immediately clear what the extra money gets you: The new model has a slightly reduced working radius over the myCobot-280 Pi variant, though better repeatability at a claimed ±0.5mm to its predecessor's ±1mm. Both includes the same software support, payload capacity, and number of axes — though the mechArm uses a revised design, which the company claims should prove more stable.

Exactly what the mechArm can do, meanwhile, depends on what accessories you pick up: The modular head supports an adaptive gripper or suction pump accessory, communicating with an M5Stack Atom Lite microcontroller board at the end of the arm, while an optional camera flange opens up support for computer vision projects.

The mechArm is now selling on the Elephant Robotics site at $799 for the base arm or $888.99 with adaptive gripper; an all-in-one kit that includes G-clamp base, adaptive gripper, suction cup, and camera flange is priced at $1,158.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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