Recommendation for a robot arm with SDK or API to perform gripper research

We’re looking for robot arm hardware to perform research on, with the intention of adding different types of sensory input to end effectors. From our precursory research, Rethink Sawyer and Universal Robots appear to have the most flexibility for building custom programs using their SDKs, but since the end use case of our products will be applicable to any industrial robot, we’re also looking at manufacturers like ABB, Fanuc, Kuka, Mitsubishi, Yaskawa, Omron, etc.

Most of the robots appear to have a proprietary GUI to program basic routines, but we need the grippers and arms to intelligently respond to the additional sensory and vision inputs of our devices. We’d like to find a setup that makes it easy to integrate and test our technology. It should provide a simulation environment, but also allow online programming without the need to build out drivers from scratch. It looks like ROS and RoboDK offer good frameworks for this application, but some robots are more supported than others.

Finally, since we’re primarily concerned about testing the grippers, we’d like to ensure that we have a development platform that can be generalized to other robot arms in the future. It would be ideal if the grippers we tested were compatible across multiple robots without requiring significant modifications or custom couplers.

Does anyone have any good advice as to which robots and grippers would be best suited for this type of application? What else should we be considering? Links to any relevant resources would be greatly appreciated.

submitted by /u/alphaleonis
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