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A Speed Adept


© F. Pierrot/CNRS Photothèque

With its four arms, Adept Quattro can handle up to 240 pieces/min and attain accelerations of 200 m/s2 for loads as heavy as 2 kg, making it twice as fast as any other robot of this kind.

Meet Adept Quattro, the fastest industrial robot in the world. Fitted with four spidery limbs and a steely blue sheen, this insect-like machine can lift and deposit small objects at twice the speed of its competitors. To develop a robot capable of such dizzying speeds, French CNRS researchers from the LIRMM1 teamed up with the private Spanish research center Fundación Fatronik, their partner of six years. Together, they carefully optimized the robot's design and its operating system.

Adept Quattro's controls work to optimize motion, allowing the machine to reach acceleration rates of 200 meters per second squared while carrying loads of two kilograms. Conventional robots laden with a similar load only achieve 100 meters per second squared. But the real secret of its speed lies in its four limbs. Classical robots usually lift objects with one arm, in a motion closely resembling that of a human. When a man picks up an apple, for example, he lifts not only the fruit but also the weight of his own wrist, elbow, and shoulder. The result is that the arm burns additional energy and moves slower.

But Adept Quattro is what is known as a parallel robot. It uses four arms simultaneously to pick up and move objects. All arms move in a coordinated manner to lift, shift, and rotate the part. In effect, each limb, or “kinematic chain,” is linked to the base of the robot, rather than to another part of the same arm. The new design lets the machine distribute its weight more evenly and thus operate faster. “In essence, the robot doesn't waste as much energy carrying itself,” explains CNRS researcher François Pierrot.

Adept Quattro is expected to reduce packaging times in sectors as varied as food processing, health, and cosmetics. Able to move 240 parts a minute, the four-armed robot is indeed the perfect candidate to drop thousands of differently shaped chocolates into their assigned slots in a box, or place millions of aspirin tablets into pocket-size bottles. “Our objective was speed, specifically because we wanted to find a concrete solution for a concrete need in the industry,” says Pierrot. The researcher also suggests the robot could come to replace humans in particularly painstaking industrial tasks.

Now produced on an industrial scale by the American robotics leader Adept, hence the name, the robot has already piqued the interest of several manufacturers. Its price tag reads somewhere between €30,000 and €50,000.


Lucille Hagège

Notes :

1. Laboratoire d'informatique, de robotique et de microélectronique de Montpellier (CNRS / Université Montpellier 2).

Contacts :

François Pierrot
LIRMM, Montpellier.


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