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How to use MoveIT to develop a robotic manipulation application

European Commission funded HR-Recycler project aims at developing a hybrid human-robot collaborative environment for the disassembly of electronic waste. Humans and robots will be working collaboratively sharing different manipulation tasks. One of these tasks takes place in the disassembly area where electronic components are sorted by type into their corresponding boxes. 

An easy-to-use robotic manipulation platform

To speed up the component sorting task Robotnik is developing a mobile robotic manipulator that needs to pick boxes filled with disassembled components from the workbenches and transport them either to their final destination or to further processing areas. MoveIt is an open-source robotic manipulation platform that allows you to develop complex manipulation applications using ROS. 

Here, a brief summary showing how we used MoveIt functionalities to develop a pick and place application will be presented.

Features and benefits of MoveIT

We found MoveIt to be very useful in the early stages of developing a robotic manipulation application. It allowed us to decide on the environment setup, whether our robot is capable of performing the manipulation actions we need it to perform in that setup, how to arrange the setup for the best performance, how to design the components of the workspace the robot has to interact with so that they allow for the correct completion of the manipulation actions needed in the application. 

Workspace layout

MoveIt allows you to build the planning scene environment using mesh objects previously designed in any cad program and allows your robot to interact with them. 

With MoveIt you can plan towards any goal position not only taking into account the environment scene by avoiding objects but also interacting with it by grabbing objects and including them in the planning process. Any MoveIt scene Collision Object can be attached to the desired robot link, MoveIt will then allow collisions between that link and the object, once attached the object will move together with the robot’s link. 

Figure 2: MoveIt Planning Scene with collision objects (green) and attached objects (purple).

This functionality helped us determine from the very beginning whether our robot arm was able to reach objects in a table with a certain height, how far away from the table should the robot position to reach the objects properly, is there enough space to perform the arm movements it needs to perform to manipulate objects around the workspace area. It also helped us design the boxes needed for the task, allowing us to decide on the correct box size that will allow the robot arm to perform the necessary manipulation movements given the restricted working area.  

Motion Planning

MoveIt includes various tools that allow you to perform motion planning to the desired pose with high flexibility, you can adjust the motion planning algorithm to your application to obtain the best performance. This is very useful because it allows you to restrict your robot’s allowed motion to fit very specific criteria, which is an application like ours, with a restricted working space where the robot needs to manipulate objects precisely in an environment shared with humans is very important.

Figure 3: Planning to the desired goal taking into account collisions with the scene.

One of the biggest motion requirements we have is the need for the robot arm to maintain the boxes parallel to the ground when manipulating them as they will be filled with objects that need to be carried between work stations. To plan using constraints can be easily done with MoveIt.

There are various constraints that can be applied, the ones we found more useful for our application are joint constraints and orientation constraints. 

  • With Orientation constraints you can restrict the desired orientation of a robot link, they are very useful to maintain the robot’s end-effector parallel to the ground, needed to manipulate the boxes properly. 
  • Joint constraints limit the position of a joint to be within a certain bound, they are very useful to shape the way you want your robot to move, in our application it allowed us to move the arm maintaining a relative position between the elbow and shoulder, performing more natural movements and avoiding potentially dangerous motions.
Figure 4: Motion Planning with joint and orientation constraints vs without.

Another useful MoveIt motion planning tool is to plan movements to a goal position both in Cartesian and in Joint Space, allowing you to switch between these two options for different desired trajectory outcomes.

  • Cartesian Space planning is used whenever you want to follow a very precise motion with the end effector link. In our application, we made use of these functions when moving down from the box approach position to the grab position and back again. Our robot has to carry the boxes with it, and due to limited space on its base area, all of the boxes are quite close together, using Cartesian planning we could assure we are maintaining verticality while raising the box from its holder avoiding latching between boxes and unnecessary stops. 
  • Joint Space planning is however useful to obtain more natural trajectories when the arm is moving between different grabbing positions making movement smoother. 
Figure 5: Motion Planning in Cartesian Space vs Joint Space.

This is just a brief summary of how we used MoveIt to develop a preliminary robotic pick and place manipulation application, there are still lots of different tools that MoveIt has to offer. Some of MoveIt’s most advanced applications include integrating 3D sensors to build a perception layer used for object recognition in pick and place tasks or using deep learning algorithms for grasp pose generation, areas that will be explored in the next steps. 

Stay tuned for future updates in the development of a robotic manipulation application using MoveIt’s latest implementations. 

Down below you will find a short demonstration of the currently developed application running on a Robotnik’s RB-KAIROS mobile manipulator.


collaborative robots

RB-KAIROS+ : Mobile robot to expand Universal Robots e-Series arms applications

Collaborative robotics is one of the great advances in the world of Industry 4.0 and shows us that our industrial future is a workspace where robots and humans operate together, each of them working to their own particular strengths.

While robots are experts in repetitive tasks, accuracy, and consistency in applying the same criteria in a task over and over again, industry professionals have the creativity and problem-solving skills to make the most of collaborative robotics and expand its applications.

In the midst of this new collaborative work environment, RB-KAIROS+ has emerged as a mobile solution to expand the possibilities of Universal Robots e-Series arms and improve production line efficiency.

What is RB-KAIROS+?

RB-KAIROS+ is a mobile robotic platform designed for the plug & play integration of Universal Robots e-Series arms, enabling them to move efficiently around the work floor.

This robot base provides mobility and autonomy to the URe arms, enhancing and expanding their applications.

RB-KAIROS+ has been developed with hardware and software that will facilitate the installation of the robotic arm, thus obtaining a powerful and easy to use collaborative mobile manipulator. The robot software is integrated in Polyscope, thus allowing easy programming and a combination of arm and base commands.

RB-KAIROS+ is a collaborative mobile manipulator because it can work in different industry environments, sharing the workspace with operators in a safe way.

Features of the RB-KAIROS+ collaborative mobile manipulator

RB-KAIROS+ has been designed to be used in conjunction with Universal Robots robotic arms, and this mobile manipulator boasts the UR+ certificate that guarantees its compatibility with the models: UR3, UR5, UR10, UR3 e, UR5 e, UR10 e, and UR16 e.

The RB-KAIROS+ design consists of a mobile platform with omnidirectional and sliding kinematics, and 4 driving wheels. It is a robust steel platform capable of transporting up to 250 kg payload.

Robotnik allows a wide range of configurations of the RB-KAIROS+, with sensors and components that create an integral, autonomous, and fully adapted collaborative mobile manipulator for the UR+ ecosystem.

How does my company benefit from integrating RB-KAIROS+?

Industries that are automating their lines through collaborative robotics will be able to expand the potential of their cobots, due to the increase of the number and types of areas they can work in, thus accomplishing:

  • The extension of the use of cobots to a wider range of applications enabled by the unlimited workspace capability.
  • Wider potential in the application of diverse industrial tasks.
  • Greater profitability and improvement in the processes due to the versatility of the cobots with an investment centred on a single mobile platform compatible with the entire Universal Robots e-Series.
  • An increase in productivity due to the automation of manual
  • A mobile platform that can share the workspace with human operators, thus creating safer and more flexible industrial and working environments.
  • A mobile platform that enables a repetitive, yet precise, and consistent, mechanical work rate, in the same way as with the Universal Robots e-Series arms.

The qualitative improvement that RB-KAIROS+ provides

Another great advantage of RB-KAIROS+ is that it increases the working potential of the robotic arms, thus expanding their industrial applications with exact and precise movements.

This is how a robotic arm can improve its efficiency when performing pick & place or part feeding applications, and thus provide a better supply to assembly lines.

The increased movement capacity, together with the rotation of the cobot, allows faster and more accurate quality control and metrology tasks.

The RB-KAIROS+ can support up to 250 kg payload, which helps the robotic arm to improve the way it handles large packages and the automation of storage tasks, with better use of space and an improved response time.

Its repeatability and precision in its movements help a cobot to perform constant and repetitive mechanical tasks, such as polishing, screwing, drilling, cleaning etc.

The synergy between Robotnik and Universal Robots has enabled us to create RB-KAIROS+ and improve our Collaborative Mobile Robots (CMR) portfolio, meeting the needs of automated industries that are committed to the advantages of collaborative robotics.

RB-KAIROS+, the first mobile robot fully prepared to integrate URe arms

Designed for all types of industrial applications, it is presented as a solution for Universal Robots e-Series users.

Thanks to its mobility, it extends the cobot  workspace unlimitedly.

RB-KAIROS+ is a robotic platform designed for the plug&play integration of Universal Robots e-Series arms. Its software and hardware are fully prepared to mount the arm and thus turn the robotic arm into a mobile manipulator. This allows unlimited expansion of the cobot workspace because the collaborative mobile manipulator can work in different locations. In this sense, it is a great complement for current URe arm users.

RB-KAIROS+ is extremely useful for industrial applications such as pick and place, part feeding, metrology, quality control, bolting of large parts or packaging. Without a doubt, it is an excellent way to improve the productivity of any factory.

robot manipulator

In addition, it is designed to work in industrial environments, where safety lasers are generally used, which allow the robot to safely share the workspace with the operators.

RB-KAIROS+ has a robust steel design and can carry up to 250 Kg. The mobile platform has omnidirectional / skid-steering kinematics based on 4 high power motor wheels.

RB-KAIROS+ can navigate autonomously and can be configured with a wide range of sensors and components found within the UR + ecosystem.

RB-KAIROS+ is a certificate product from UR+

More information: RB-KAIROS +

Do not miss our video.


ROS Control: the key to consolidate ROS in the robotics industry

ROS has been one of the greatest advances of the robotics industry in the past years. Its development began as a way to help the development of robot applications, easing the communication between sensors and algorithms, following the paradigm of “program once, test everywhere”. 

This has been the pattern of the last years, and ROS has performed extremely good in that way. 

For example, you could code an algorithm to take an image as its input, without caring about which model, resolution or connection type, as long as it was supported by ROS and adopted its API.

But this focusing on the high-level layer of application development led to an unthinkable oblivion: How was the access to actuators managed? How were the references of the actuators calculated? 

As in the case of high level applications, where the end user shouldn’t care about the source and destination of the data used and produced by him, in the case of robot control the user shouldn’t care about which type of actuators are used by a robot. But today, this is not the situation anymore thanks to ROS Control.

Why ROS Control?

ROS Control is the API that has been developed by the ROS community to allow simple access to different actuators. Using this standard API, the controller code is separated from the actuator code. For example, one could write a new controller implementing a fancy control strategy and test it on different hardware without changing a single line of code. Or one could test different control algorithm with same hardware to find the most suitable for its needs.

ROS Control has different features that make it really appealing: 

  • Real time capabilities, that allows to run control loops at hundreds of hertz.
  • A simple manager interface, that gives access to the actuators and handles resource conflicts.
  • A safety interface, that knows the hardware limitation of the joints and ensures that the commands sent to the actuators are between their limits.
  • A set off-the-shelf controllers that are ready to be used.

Have you ever thought about the mapping between joint and actuator space? ROS Control already did it. 

Normally this mapping is one-to-one, i.e. one actuator controls one joint, and their movement is related by a gearbox, so you don’t need to do messy calculations. However, in case of more complex scenarios, e.g. when a differential transmission is used, ROS Control gives us an elegant solution through its transmission interface to cope with this problem. 

This solution is used by the differential (RB-1 Base and RB-2 Base) and skid-steering (Summit-XL) robots from Robotnik, robotics company. These platforms are very similar, but they have different number of wheels: two for a differential configuration and four in the case of skid-steering. Thanks to the transmissions interface in ROS Control, they share the same control algorithm with no additional software effort.

ROS Control

One more step

What about mixing different robot components into one? This is a trend nowadays, where robot components are autonomous and usable on their own but can also be assembled into a single functional system. In those cases, ROS provides high level coordination between the components, but with ROS Control this coordination is also achieved at the low level, extending the control possibilities to far and beyond.

For example, with a more coupled control between a robotic arm and the tool attached to it. Or, as is the case of RB-Kairos, smooth and coordinated movements between the robotic arm and the mobile base are easy to program, leading to high complex operations and maneuvers that include logistic operations, picking items from narrow spaces and interactions with humans in a safe and confident manner.


Finally, the separation between controllers and actuators allows an interesting option: simulation. Gazebo, the standard robot simulator used by ROS, implements simulated ROS Control actuators, and one can write and test a controller even before it has the real robot available. This feature of ROS Control is used at Robotnik to test new kinematic configurations for its most edgy robots, allowing for quick prototype delivery. 

This is the case of RB-Vulcano, a platform with 4 steerable wheels in a swerve-configuration thanks to them is able to move in an omnidirectional way. 

However, they have to be coordinated in different modes, such as parking or navigation, to effectively follow the reference of movement that is sent to the robot. Switching between modes must be a compromise between the smoothness of the movement and the precision required for each operation. Thanks to ROS Control, Robotnik was able to replicate the full platform in a simulated environment to find the best strategies for motor control.

mobile manipulator

ROS Control is one of the key parts for the domination of the robotic world by ROS. As a world leading company in the ROS community, Robotnik makes an extensive use of ROS Control to give its customers the best products available on the market.

If you are interested in collaborative mobile robotics, don’t forget to subscribe to our blog!

Top robotics companies: Robotnik

Top robotics companies: why Robotnik is between them?

Today, robotics is part of our day to day, helping to optimize and automate tasks and making life easier for people. Like many others, this has been a natural process that we have reached due to numerous factors such as, for example, labour shortages in some sectors; the decrease in the world labour force (due to the low birth rate and aging); the search for automations that avoid human error and also the automation of those heavy, repetitive or simple jobs. If you want to know why Robotnik is between the top robotics companies, just keep reading!

The importance of human and robots 

What is collaborative robotics and what does it contribute?

In relation to this last aspect, we find collaborative robotics, which t is presented as one more working tool, as an aid for workers and operators. These are robots that can work safely in environments where there are people, without physical barriers. This has undoubtedly been the definitive step and made by the top robotics companies. Robots can be as just another co-worker. If we add to this the simplicity of its installation, its ease of use and that they can perform a wide number of tasks, it is understood that collaborative robots are present in any company that is in the so-called industry 4.0.


How the ​best robotics companies help create jobs

If we put into focus the idea that collaborative robots often perform repetitive, heavy and sometimes even dangerous tasks, we can go beyond the hackneyed concept that robots replace traditional labour and frame it in a new concept about processes improvement. That is, seeing collaborative robotics as one more aid to produce better, so that the company/industry is as efficient as possible.

Milton Guerry, President of the International Federation of Robotics, assures that: “Productivity increases and competitive advantages of automation don´t replace jobs – they will automate tasks, augment jobs and create new ones.”

Companies around the world are increasing their use of industrial robots: in five years, the global operating stock increased by approximately 65% ​​to 2.4 million units (2013-2018).


And which are the top robotics companies in the market? Robotnik is one of them

Robotnik is specialized in mobile robotics. Since 2002, the year of its foundation, it designs, manufactures, and markets robots and mobile manipulators.

Currently, our robots are present in numerous sectors: R&D, defense, inspection and maintenance, etc. The strongest in the industrial market is undoubtedly the logistics sector.


Best robotics companies uses robots in logistic sector 

Why choose Robotnik?

Nowadays, anyone with a general knowledge of the industry knows the use of mobile robots to transport goods in environments such as warehouses or even outdoor environments, such as those with large companies made up of several buildings that need to share merchandise with each other. The uses are very wide and in the end what it is about is to automate a process that is simple and repetitive, what a robot does best.

This, which is already so accepted in the market, was not so accepted in 2008, when Robotnik launched its first Collaborative Mobile Robots (CMR) on the market for autonomous transport in hospital environments. That experience is what has helped our company to be one of the best companies in the robotics sector. Since then, our logistics solution has been expanded adapting to the different environments of factories, warehouses or industries in general.

Our indoor logistics system is a comprehensive solution that includes robot fleet, location systems, user interface (HMI) and Fleet Management System (FMS). All this is a specific development from Robotnik.


What are the advantages of robotics and mobile handling in the logistics sector?

That collaborative mobile robotics has been making its way in sectors such as logistics makes a lot of sense. What would be the advantages it provides? We can cite the following:

  • Easy setup and installation.
  • Appropriate to share the workspace with people.
  • Automation of repetitive or unsafe processes.
  • Different localization solutions available.
  • Flexible routes vs fixed routes of traditional AGVs.
  • Advanced intelligent functions: person following, docking to machinery, voice communication, etc.
  • Advanced user interface (HMI) that allows to generate maps and define localization (waypoints) and routes in a simple and interactive way.
  • FMS (Fleet Management System) for the optimal coordination of a fleet of robots that share a workspace and a set of resources.

Top robotics companies share space between humans and robots

Success factors or how to try to be among the best robotics companies

Among the companies that have managed to consolidate over time, and especially the technology companies, several factors tend to coincide. Among those who define Robotnik like a top robotics company we could mention:

  • Market: when a company is in a booming sector, it is normal for it to progress. From 2020 to 2022 almost 2 million new units of industrial robots are expected to be installed in factories around the world. Europe is the region with the highest robot density, with an average value of 114 units per 10,000 employees in the manufacturing industry.
  • Innovation: any technology company must innovate if it wants to have a benchmark in the market. At Robotnik we have tried to launch products that add value to the market, and we have tried to improve the processes of our industrial customers. There is another way of doing things and mobile robotics has a lot to say about it.
  • Customization: one of the things that defines us the most is our ability to create, and to develop new prototypes that adapt to the needs of our clients. If there is a robot or a mobile manipulator at the base of a project, we can make it happen.
  • Vision: over 18 years there have been some setbacks, but also many successes such as the commitment to certain sectors and countries or specialization in certain types of products (such as, for example, right now in the field of mobile handling) .
  • Alliances: all our business partners have helped us. Our distributors, strategic allies for certain projects... are the ones who have helped us establishing ourselves in the international market or in certain sectors. The path is not usually successful if you travel alone.


The list of top robotics companies that are doing interesting things in the world is extensive. We hope Robotnik will continue to be one of them for a long time.


Top robotics companies: Robotnik

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Robotnik, premium sponsor of 3rd ROS Developers Day

Robotnik is going to sponsor the 3rd ROS Developers Day (*formerly named “ROS Developers Conference“), which is a hands-on online event for robot operating system developers. The event aims to connect ROS developers around the world without geographical restrictions and to share and learn the latest ROS applications through real-time practice.

At this conference, the world’s top ROS developers will bring their latest results through a webcast. They will demonstrate their ROS projects in real-time, and the public will practice at the same time.

It's the case of our colleague Alejandro Arnal, software developer from Robotnik. He will make a speech about 'Working with mobile manipulators'. Mobile manipulators are robots composed of a mobile base and a robotic arm. By combining these two, robots are able to interact in human environments, being collaborative robots. Our colleague will teach the audience how to program a mobile manipulator and they will practice using Robotnik’s mobile manipulator RB-KAIROS.

Robotnik shares the advantages of Collaborative Mobile Manipulators at ‘We Are Cobots’

‘Applications of Collaborative Mobile Robots’ is the title of the Robotnik’s webinar in the first edition of the ‘We Are Cobots’ virtual fair organized by our partner Universal Robots. The webinar, which will take place on June 17, aims to share Robotnik's experience as a leading company in mobile robotics.

Collaborative Mobile Manipulation is now a reality within the reach of all companies competing within the framework of Industry 4.0. These are autonomous mobile manipulators fully prepared to work safely in environments where there are people. Their ability to perform mechanical and repetitive tasks, covering complete work shifts, make them a fundamental tool for an any industry that wants to position itself at the forefront of technology and occupy a position of relevance in today's market.

The webinar shows the keys to know how to approach the implantation of mobile manipulation within the productive processes of a company.

If you are interested in Collaborative Mobile Manipulation, be sure to attend.

UNO Logistics Organization shares our robotics solutions for the sector

UNO Logistics, the Logistics and Transport Business Organization, dedicates a complete article to us in the analysis of the different industrial solutions of our company for the logistics industry. Robotnik has been carrying robotic mobile robots for different industrial sectors since its origin, with special dedication to the transport of goods and industrial mobile manipulation since 2008, when we started to implement our robots and our Fleet Management System (SGF) in hospitals.

Would you like to read the full article? We leave it here.

How to choose a mobile manipulator? Key factors

One of the axioms of the industry is that it is necessary to produce as efficiently as possible in the shortest possible time. It follows that one of the most important factors in most industrial processes is time, which has been increasingly optimized thanks to process automation. Among them, the search for increasingly sophisticated solutions for “pick and place” logistics work stands out. This is where a new product concept based on a broad portfolio has strongly come in: robotic mobile manipulators.

Thus, most of the Companies seeking for a mobile manipulator consider how to select the right one. The following describes the main aspects that a good mobile manipulator must comply with.


“Pick and place” tasks are usually random tasks that require variable and indefinite paths. Therefore, to reduce the duration of this type of tasks it is recommended that the robot optimizes the route: the shortest and with the least number of stops. This is where a robot with omnidirectional movement appears to be the most optimal proposal thanks to its versatility of 360º movement.

Assume the following case study. The following image shows the same route that an omnidirectional mobile manipulator and another differential mobile manipulator must perform to do a “multi” pick and place mission.

Disregarding the possible obstacles that the robot should overcome, it has been estimated that the manipulator would take about 20 seconds to “pick” at each point (giving a total of about 3 minutes) with the difference that the differential platform should be redirected before starting the point-to-point offset. By estimating the time of each reorientation turn in approximately 5 seconds (40 seconds in total), it is concluded that the differential manipulator does the same task 1/5 times slower than the omnidirectional.

Based on this example and estimating continuous annual use, the robot with differential kinematics would need up to 40 more days to match the production of the omnidirectional robot. With this theoretical data, it can be concluded that a mobile manipulator with omnidirectional kinematics has the guarantees of reducing production times and, therefore, a reduction of costs in the short or medium term.


Another necessary factor in the decision to buy a mobile manipulator is the usability it brings to the Customer. First of all, it is important that the start up of the robot and the access to its functions is as predictive as possible, thanks to an integrated software interface to interact with the robot.

A good interface must give option to certain functions that speed up the use and maintenance of the mobile manipulator, among which would be essential:

• Generate missions in a predictive way.
• Check the status of the robot: battery, sensors, motors...
• Robot control.


Most Companies value the versatility of the robot when it comes to adapting to its routines. A large part of the robotic mobile platforms on the market have closed software and hardware configurations that do not accept those modifications that the Customer needs. Therefore, it is very important to look for mobile manipulators that allow the implementation of any type of devices or functions that the Client requires for its industrial application. An example would be those Customers who already have robotic arms or camera systems and who need to integrate them into mobile platforms, thus taking advantage of their features without buying new devices.


This type of facilities, again, makes the robot's adaptation to the industrial environment more agile and bearable. Therefore, it is appropriate to prioritize those mobile manipulators that adapt to the Customer and discard those that only accept predefined closed configurations.


It should not be forgotten that the work carried out by a mobile manipulator will complement or replace the workforce of one or more workers over one or more shifts. It is therefore logical to expect that the mobile manipulator selected will be capable of having an autonomy greater than a worker can exercise throughout their working day.

In order not to be constantly aware of the robot's battery status, it is recommended that the robot has the option of being charged by means of a charging station. This also makes it easier for the robot not to unload and to have more continuous and automated activity.

All the factors that can improve the robot's autonomy must be taken into account to avoid wasting production time and, therefore, not wasting money.

Robotnik launches the new RB-KAIROS 16

Robotnik launches the new RB-KAIROS 16, an omnidirectional mobile robot that integrates the new Universal Robots UR16 manipulator.

With this latest addition, the RB-KAIROS product range increases its payload in the final effector up to 16 kg, improving the possibilities in applications such as pick & place, metrology, screwing, drilling, loading/unloading of machinery, quality control, etc. In addition, the mobile manipulator benefits from the advantages of the arms and URxe controllers with greater frequency and force-torque control in the final effector.

RB-KAIROS is the perfect option to increase the work space of a cobot, reaching any position and with the capability to work on pieces of any size. The robot has an autonomy of eight hours and optionally a charging station which allows the arm to keep working during the charging process. The programming of the robot is simple and possible from any handheld device, making possible to launch simple applications in a few minutes. The robot can mount the range of UR+ standardized accessories (cameras, vision systems, grippers, vacuum grippers) fully compatible and with plug&play connection to the robot.