7Bot is a desktop robot arm that can see, think and learn


This desktop robot can play chess, tic-tac-toe and ping pong against a human.


While industrial robots may not be anything new, a vast majority of them can start at $50,000, not to mention require an engineering background to program it. But what if there was a much smaller, IRB 2400-like unit that packed the same punch as its counterparts for a fraction of the cost? That’s the idea behind 7Bot, a desktop robot arm that can see, think and learn.

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Designed with aspirations of making robots more accessible for everyone, 7Bot boasts an aluminum body with six high-torque servos and an optimized control algorithm for enhanced accuracy, stability and agility. Its creators tell us that the arm is embedded with an Arduino Due (SAM3X8E).

But that’s not all. 7Bot is equipped with artificial intelligence and will learn as it goes. Looking for someone to play chess against? Need some help doing your homework? Whatever it is, this robotic arm is up for the task! Using the team’s computer vision sample codes, you can adjust the parameters to build an automated assembly line right on your desk. And should you have two 7Bot arms, you can combine them to make your very own humanoid.

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In terms of controlling the arm, any common human interactive device will do the trick. This includes everything from a traditional PC mouse to a keyboard, as well as gestures using Leap Motion and Kinect sensors. Additionally, custom built servos with feedback enable you to teach the robotic arm to accomplish tasks without coding.

“You can simply drag each joint of the robot to a serious of desired way points. The movements will be recorded, and could be replayed in an optimized path. Using teaching mode, you can easily guide your 7Bot arm performing some tasks,” the team writes. “With our embedded inverse-kinematics algorithm, the 7Bot arm can be precisely controlled using coordinates. And we have made web controlling application by using a Raspberry Pi as the host and with real-time feedback.”

They have also provided 3D visualization software for programing, which allows you to manipulate the arm intuitively. With this application, you can set and read the position of each joint separately with a real-time graphic interface and then interact with the 3D model using a mouse and keyboard.

“The robot can follow the movement in real-time. Or on the other side, you can perform simulation first, and generate way-point with the software, and then download the optimized moving path to your 7Bot arm. This is well suited for many algorithms that need lots of iterations in simulation, like reinforcement learning. You can get rid of any low-level coding for the robot.”

As for coding, 7Bot is compatible with Scratch, while more advanced developers have access to a wide range of open source APIs in C and C++.

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7Bot is super flexible and can impressively mimic a real human limb. But just in case six degrees of freedom aren’t enough, you can always add a sliding mechanism to gain a seventh. Or, for a roving robot, simply throw it on an omni-directional mobile platform and roll around on its four Mecanum wheels.

The arm comes with a number of accessories too, such as a 3D-printed, dual-finger claw or an air vacuum gripper that can pick up and hold any two-pound object with a smooth exterior. It’s also super easy to be controlled with two digital signals. Meaning, you can use your Arduino, Raspberry Pi or any other microcontrollers.

Interested? Head over to its Kickstarter page, where the 7Bot crew is currently seeking $50,000. Delivery is slated for January 2016.

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