Polar/Spherical Robots - Midwest Engineered Systems

Polar robots are robot configurations with a combined linear joint and two rotary joints, with an arm connected to a robotic base and a twisting joint. Also known as spherical robots, the axes create a spherical work envelope and a polar coordinate system. Spherical robots are well-known in the history of robotics. This is because the first industrial robot, Unimate, was a spherical robot created back in the 1950s.

Even with only three axes, spherical robots significantly increased production over manual, human labor enough for automotive and industrial manufacturers to seek them out. The rush to purchase this new robotic technology started the industrial robot revolution and was the precursor of six-axis robots and many other advancements in industrial robotics.

Today, polar or spherical robots have been supplanted by other types of industrial robots. Most common are SCARA robots and the ubiquitous industrial robotic arm. The SCARA performs closest to the polar robots and offer greater speed, however conventional robotic arms tend to scale to larger payloads and offer greater articulation. Both new systems offer the same capabilities, as the software to control them have advanced greatly since the advent of the first polar/spherical systems to make programming faster and easier than the ‘Unimate’ style machines.


Polar spherical robots have been used for a variety of industrial automation applications including:

While there are a number of polar or spherical robots still in the field, when wear and tear eventually takes its toll, it’s best to consider moving to other types of robotic systems like the aforementioned SCARA, articulated arms, or even delta-style robots for replacement.

If you’re looking to have your polar or spherical robot system serviced by our 24/7 customer support department or would like to understand what options are available for replacing this style of robot, contact Midwest Engineered Systems today to speak with our highly trained application engineers. Trust our decades of robotic automation system experience to develop a robotic automation system that increases productivity and efficiency!