Modbot, a San Francisco-based start-up, is designing industrial robots that will piece together like Legos.

The robot is connected to a motorized joint with smartphone-like sensors and a harmonic drive powered by a DC motor. The robot arm has a jaw at the end that can be used for different pick-and-place scenarios. In this design, the arm uses three motorized joints while the jaw opens and closes with one additional motor.

Modbot is targeting the industrial domain first for its robot, a strategy that will help control the price.

The robot could cost around $2,500, says Adam Ellison, co-founder of the company. He says that similar robots might cost considerably more but using the same joint to connect all of the modules reduces the price of the Modbot.

“Inside the servomotor itself are a couple of technologies that use consumerized technology; for example sensors that are in smartphones,” Ellison says.

The Modbot team built one prototype and the company has hopes to have a commercialized product by the end of 2015 and an entire line of modular robots by the end of 2016.

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