It is well known that flexibility, short development times and low economical efforts are probably the most important features needed by any industrial application and, of course, in a robotic and control system oriented experimental set-up. The growth in performances of low-cost PC-based architectures and the diffusion of free-distributed software packages brought the possibility of developing such a kind of systems taking into account all these needs.
In this work we present two research activity carried out at the Laboratory of Automation and Robotics (L.A.R.) of the University of Bologna: the real-time control of an industrial manipulator, the Comau SMART 3-S, and a simple motion control application for small size DC motors. In both cases, the basic idea is to build flexible and highly configurable experimental set-ups to quickly test new control algorithms and to easily use the plant in different tasks.