Piezoelectric Actuator with Dual Horns that are Separately Controllable to Drive Miniature Vehicles Along a Single Axis

The technology enables miniature vehicles to operate in extreme environments for space, military, and industrial uses.

Actuators are a critical driver of all the mechanisms used in space, and improvements of their operation mechanism enhance mission capabilities. The disclosed invention is a new type of actuator that simultaneously drives dual mechanisms (e.g., rotors, wheels, etc.) at opposite sides of a piezoelectric stack using the generated vibrations. The actuator consists of dual-sided horns and is capable of operating ratcheting mechanisms through walls.

Posted in: Briefs, Automation, Sensors and actuators, Performance upgrades, Vibration, Electric drives, Spacecraft
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Chain Drive Dust Conveyer

This method clears cutting fines from a sampling tool without the use of fluids.

A chain drive through a tube is used to convey dust and fines. The chain can maneuver in any angle within a certain allowable bend radius. The catch features can be spherical or cylindrical.

The Mars 2020 coring drill will generate a significant amount of dust and debris (known as fines) due to the volume of milled material displaced by the corer’s annulus. These cuttings must be removed to ensure that the drill does not jam. The typical method involves fluids, which may not work on Mars due to the atmospheric conditions.

Posted in: Briefs, Automation, Particulate matter (PM), Ground vehicle operations, Product development, Drilling, Spacecraft
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Robot Powertrain Moves Toward Energy Autonomy

A smart gear box can significantly reduce energy consumption for future dyke inspection robots.

Inspecting the condition of dykes and other sea defense structures is typically a task for a team of robots. They consume a lot of energy to move across the dykes, perform tests, and communicate the results for six hours a day. Because charging stations are not a realistic scenario, University of Twente researcher Douwe Dresscher looked at making the robot as energy autonomous as possible. He obtained good results by having the robot store mechanical — rather than electrical — energy, and by introducing an innovative automatic gear box. The gear box is a modern version of the “variomatic” model used in Dutch DAF automobiles. While the variomatic uses a belt drive, the inspection robot uses two metal hemispheres.

Posted in: Briefs, Automation, Robotics, On-board energy sources, Product development, Robotics, Gears, Inspections, Marine vehicles and equipment
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Evaluation Standard for Robotic Research

Universal benchmarks can standardize the measurement of robotic manipulation tasks.

The Yale-CMU-Berkeley (YCB) Object and Model Set provides universal benchmarks for labs specializing in robotic manipulation and prosthetics. About two years ago, Aaron Dollar, an associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at Yale University, came up with the benchmark idea to bring a level of specificity and universality to manipulation tasks in robotics research. He enlisted the help of two former colleagues in the robotics community, Dr. Siddhartha Srinivasa from Carnegie-Mellon University and Dr. Pieter Abbeel of the University of California, Berkeley.

Posted in: Briefs, Motion Control, Automation, Kinematics, Research and development, Robotics, Quality standards, Biomechanics
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Metallic Glass Shatters Gear Limitations

Gears play an essential role in precision robotics, and they can become a limiting factor when the robots must perform in space missions. In particular, the extreme temperatures of deep space pose numerous problems for successful gear operation. At NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, CA, technologist Douglas Hofmann and his collaborators aim to bypass the limitations of existing steel gears by creating gears from bulk metallic glass (BMG).

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Metals, Mechanical Components, Motion Control, Motors & Drives, Power Transmission, Robotics, Robotics, Alloys, Glass, Gears, Durability, Spacecraft
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GPGPU for Embedded Systems

High Performance Embedded Computer (HPEC) systems are now leaning toward using the specialized parallel computational speed and performance on General Purpose Graphic Processor Units (GPGPUs). Providing that power and performance in a rugged, extended temperature small form factor (SFF) can be challenging.

Posted in: White Papers, Aeronautics, Defense, Automation, Robotics
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Searching, Exploring and Visualizing Data Using Maple

With the ever-expanding sea of available data and data repositories, navigating the vast quantities of information can be a difficult task. Maple, the advanced computing software from Maplesoft, is a powerful and interactive data visualization tool that can help users understand data characteristics through various techniques for visualization and analysis. Maple makes it easy to search, filter, explore and visualize varying types and quantities of data. This paper presents several examples of how Maple can be used to search and filter large data repositories, explore and visualize the data in innovative ways and use the data to predict future behavior.

Posted in: White Papers, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Automation, Robotics, Electronics & Computers, Software
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Tool Helps Design Soft Robots That Can Bend and Twist

Designing a soft robot to move organically — to bend like a finger or twist like a wrist — has always been a process of trial and error. Now, researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have developed a method to automatically design soft actuators based on the desired movement.

Posted in: News, Implants & Prosthetics, Motion Control, Robotics, Computer-Aided Design (CAD), Software
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Mobile Robot Colleagues on Wheels Increase Productivity And Worker Safety at Scott Fetzer Electrical Group

High-mix/low-volume manufacturing offers an automation challenge. But at electronics manufacturer Scott Fetzer Electrical Group (SFEG) in Tennessee, a fleet of Universal Robots on wheels receives daily work orders to solve ever-changing tasks—and has optimized productivity by 20%.

These lightweight, collaborative robots (“cobots”) are easy to move, set up, and program for new tasks. And the built-in safety system automatically stops the robot arm’s operation if it encounters objects or people in its route.

Download the whitepaper and find out how the Universal Robots handle tasks throughout the sheet metal department, fill epoxy into circuit boards, pick and place on conveyor lines, cut wires and perform life cycle testing:

Universal Robots Gives SFEG these Advantages:

Increased productivity by 20% Improved manufacturing consistency Increased global competitiveness with faster time to production Fast implementation with user-friendly programming and set-up Improved worker safety - “Let the robot get carpal tunnel” Payback period between 12 and 14 months
Posted in: White Papers, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Automation, Robotics
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How To Substantially Reduce Encoder Cost While Gaining Functionality With Multi-Turn Rotary Position Sensors

Many applications require rotation counters that can measure angles greater than 360º. However the low-cost 10-turn potentiometers most design engineers are familiar with can’t always meet user requirements for resolution and reliability. As an alternative, optical absolute encoders are too expensive for many applications. These solutions require a continuous power supply or they will lose count when power is restored. Also, geared technology/rotation counters are subject to significant wear.

Posted in: White Papers, Motion Control, Automation, Robotics, Data Acquisition, Sensors
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