September 2010

KUKA youBot: mobile manipulation on your desk

Mobile manipulation is more and more considered a key technology in service robotics. Many potential service robotics applications in industrial as well as in domestic settings involve not only mobility, but also manipulation. Not surprisingly the research community is paying increasing attention to this topic. A Mobile Manipulation challenge was organized during ICRA 2010 in Anchorage by Willow Garage, and an IEEE Technical Committee on Mobile Manipulation was established at the same occasion.

Now a big industrial player has thrown its hat in the ring. KUKA has developed a mobile manipulator for education and research that could become instrumental for promoting and accelerating research in mobile manipulation. The robot is called „youBot“ and has the weight and size to fit on a regular desktop although this is not intended to be the primary work space.

Unveiled for the first time in June 2010 at the robotics industry’s main exhibition „Automatica“, the KUKA youBot consists of a mobile base with four KUKA omniWheels allowing smooth holonomic motions and a 5-DOF lightweight arm with a two-finger gripper. And most important for the research community: the platform is fully open. Each axis of the system can be accessed over a real-time EtherCAT bus via an open protocol. An open source software repository and open teaching material is expected to become available soon. More information on the KUKA youBot is available on

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