You may think Delta robots are only good for speedy pick-and-place operations on manufacturing and packaging lines. But Deltas, a type of parallel robot, can be applied to more than traditional pick and place work.
One recent example comes from CSEM, the Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology. The center's researchers have come out with a Microfactory concept built around the world's smallest Delta robots. A typical Microfactory production line would contain a series of modules, each measuring about 10 x 10 x 10 cm. And each module would contain one of CSEM's new PocketDelta robots, which have a work envelope of just 60 x 60 x 30 mm.
The PocketDelta robots may be small, but they're not slow or sloppy. The center reports accelerations up to 10 g and a repeatability to less than 2 micrometers. CSEM developed the robot for a variety of microassembly tasks–including MEMS and other tiny electronic components. And with the center being in Switzerland, the PocketDelta just might see some use in the watch industry too.
Another interesting device that takes some measure of inspiration from Delta robots is a new haptic game controller called the Novint Falcon. Think of the Falcon as a Delta robot set on its side. Instead of a moving plate and end effector, though, the Falcon has an interchangeable grip that the user holds onto during games. The grip's position in real space corresponds to the location of a cursor in the game's three-dimensional virtual world. And when that cursor touches a virtual object, the Falcon sends an analogous force back to the grip. It generates the force with motors attached to the Falcon's three robot-like arms. Novint has developed algorithms that adjust the motor currents in accordance with what's happening in the virtual world. The system updates position and current at 1 kilohertz, and it can create a force in any direction up to its maximum force of roughly 2 lb.
More on the use of parallel mechanisms in haptic interfaces can be found on this page, which is part of Dr. Ilian Bonev's comprehensive website on parallel robots and related mechanisms.