Arduino this week announced its latest RP2040 powered product, and this is just a bit special. Meet the Braccio ++, a $600 robotic arm “designed to be used in mechatronics, robotics, engineering, electronics, physics, industrial design, and manufacturing classes, as well as any other technical subjects” that is powered by Arduino's own Nano RP2040 Connect.
“Designed specifically for advanced students,” but we suspect also a lot of fun for anyone, whatever their educational level, the Braccio ++ is powered by an Arduino Nano RP2040 Connect (the first RP2040 board to feature onboard Wi-Fi) and comes as a kit including power supplies, USB cables, a screwdriver, four lessons and two projects designed for students to collaborate on. Will Arduino's Braccio ++ make it to our list of the best RP2040 boards? For $600 it would certainly be the most expensive and for that price it would have to be exceptional.
Designed as a learning tool, the Braccio ++ aims to teach concepts that mirror the challenges of using robots in industry, such as motion, forces, torque, gear ratios, stability, and how weight of payload affects movement.
The Nano Connect joins the usual RP2040 controller chip with 16MB of additional flash storage, a microphone and motion sensors, plus a u-blox NINA-W102 radio module which brings Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2 to the board. It sticks to the usual Arduino Nano form factor, and has full support for the entire RP2040 software ecosystem, including MicroPython. There's also a new version of the Braccio Carrier board, with a mini joystick and small LCD screen, to enhance custom projects. The Carrier also has IO headers to connect accessories.
The arm itself is made from recycled food cartons rather than virgin ABS plastic, with an aluminum layer for strength. All its plastic parts are 100% recyclable. Inside, there are six Arduino RS485 Smart Servo Motors, four in the arm and two to control the claw. It can be assembled in several different ways to facilitate different movements, including attaching a solar panel and tracking the movement of the sun. The hardware is open-source, and comes with a digital content platform containing many more step-by-step lessons and projects.
The Braccio ++ is available from the Arduino Store for $599.99.