Having hands is pretty damn great, you know. Most of us take it for granted just about every day. Armed with the right tool, your hands can do just about anything.
That’s the idea behind Carbon Robotics’ KATIA, a product launched at the TechCrunch Hardware Battlefield in Las Vegas today. One robotic arm, and endless array of possibilities.
KATIA — or, as it’s known best to its creators, the Kick Ass Trainable Intelligent Arm — is a super flexible and programmable robotic arm that uses swappable hands to take on a huge variety of tasks.
Want it to be a 3D printer? Pop on the 3D printing module.
3D Scanner? Swap out the print head for a laser head.
Laser cutter? It can do that.
Cake decorator? Why not? Give it some icing, a path to follow, and fire away.
The KATIA has a payload capacity of 1kg, allowing it to pick up, rotate, and precisely place anything weighing up to around 2.2 lbs within a radius of about 1 meter.
And don’t worry: they didn’t just slap an Arduino into the base and wire it up to a few servos. After making it into Qualcomm’s Robotics Accelerator, they went with a Snapdragon 600 chipset and all the guts that come with it: a 1.9Ghz quad-core CPU, WiFi/Bluetooth/etc. You could theoretically add multiple high-def cameras to this thing to give it a vision system (something the company actually wants to do, in time) and the chipset could chew through that footage in real-time with ease.
But why give a robotic arm spec’d out guts? Because it lets it do all the number crunching required to do all sorts of wonderful stuff, like training the arm to perform tasks by touch. Need the arm to repeatedly pick up and move an object? Move the arm around to teach it where said objects are and where they need to be, and it’s able to learn those motions and replicate them with a high degree of precision.
While they set out with a focus on the consumer and DIY market, Carbon Robotics’ CEO Rosanna Myers says they’ve since seen an enormous amount of interest from aero, bio, manufacturing, and other industries.
Carbon plans to sell the KATIA base unit directly to consumers for $1999, with optional add-ons (like those aforementioned laser/3d printing modules) available for purchase down the road.