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This paper considers the problem of realizing a 6-DOF closed-loop motion simulator by exploiting an anthropomorphic serial manipulator as motion platform. Contrary to standard Stewart platforms, an industrial anthropomorphic manipulator offers a considerably larger motion envelope and higher dexterity that let envisage it as a viable and superior alternative. Our work is divided in two papers. In this Part I, we discuss the main challenges in adopting a serial manipulator as motion platform, and thoroughly analyze one key issue: the design of a suitable inverse kinematics scheme for online motion reproduction. Experimental results are proposed to analyze the effectiveness of our approach. Part II  will address the design of a motion cueing algorithm tailored to the robot kinematics, and will provide an experimental evaluation on the chosen scenario: closed-loop simulation of a Formula 1 racing car.