This paper deals with a novel approach to the design of cable-driven systems. This kind of robots possesses several desirable features that distinguish them from common manipulators, such as: low-inertia, cost-effectiveness, safety, easy reconfiguration and transportability. One key-issue that arises from the unilateral actuation is the design for workspace optimization. Most previous researches on cable-driven systems design focused their attention on workspace analysis for existing devices. Conversely, we introduce a new approach for improving workspace by design, introducing movable pulley-blocks rather than increasing the number of cables. By properly moving the pulley-blocks, the end-effector can be always maintained in the best part of the working space, thus enhancing robot capabilities without the need for additional cables. Furthermore, the eventuality of cable interference is strongly reduced. In this paper, the novel design concept is applied to different planar point-mass cable-driven robots, with one or more translating pulley-blocks. The maximum feasible isotropic force, along with the power dissipation and the effective mass at the end-effector are employed to compare the performances of different configurations.

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