Motion Control

3D Printed Tensegrity Object Can Change Shape

Researchers at Georgia Tech 3D printed an object made with tensegrity, a structural system of floating rods in compression and cables in continuous tension. (Credit: Rob Felt)

A team of researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology has developed a way to use 3D printers to create objects capable of shape change. The objects use tensegrity, a structural system of floating rods in compression and cables in continuous tension. The researchers fabricated the struts from shape memory polymers that unfold when heated. The technology could someday be used in applications ranging from space missions to biomedical devices.

Posted in: News, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Mechanical Components, Motion Control

Self-Learning Robot Hands Adapt to Grasp Objects

By connecting tactile sensors with intelligent software, the robot hands control their strength for a fine-touch grip that won’t damage delicate objects. (Bielefeld University)

A new grasp system with robotic hands works without previously knowing the characteristics of objects. The system, which learns by trial and error, was developed by researchers at Bielefeld University in Bielefeld, Germany. It features two hands that are based on human hands in terms of both shape and mobility. The robot brain for the hands must learn how everyday objects like pieces of fruit or tools can be distinguished based on their color or shape, as well as what matters when attempting to grasp the object; for example, a banana can be held, and a button can be pressed. The system learns to recognize such possibilities as characteristics, and constructs a model for interacting with and re-identifying the object.

Posted in: News, Motion Control, Positioning Equipment, Automation, Robotics

Crawling Robot is Powered by Moisture

Researchers used flash-treated graphene oxide to create a crawler that moved when humidity was increased. Switching the humidity off and on several times induced the crawler to move 3.5 millimeters in 12 seconds, with no external energy supply. (Credit: Jilin University)

Using an off-the-shelf camera flash, researchers at Jilin University, China, turned an ordinary sheet of graphene oxide into a material that bends when exposed to moisture. They then used this material to make a spider-like crawler and claw robot that move in response to changing humidity, without the need for any external power.

Posted in: News, Materials, Motion Control, Robotics

Advanced Tool Drive System (ATDS) Camera Positioning Mechanism (CPM)

Robotic servicing of a satellite in low earth orbit (LEO) or geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO) requires advanced systems capable of meeting the harsh environments of space. To support this effort, the Goddard Space Flight Center Satellite Servicing Capabilities Office (SSCO) has developed a camera positioning mechanism that will be capable of viewing features on a client satellite. Application of the CPM technology would be in multiple areas of spaceflight requiring robotic servicing including space exploration, planetary science, Earth science, and manned spaceflight.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components, Motion Control, Motors & Drives, Positioning Equipment

New Products: June 2017 Motion Design

Load Adaptor

Zero-Max (Plymouth, MN) introduced the Model 650 Overhung Load Adaptor that's designed to provide more radial and axial load support for hydraulic motors and pumps. The SAE B Model 650 is in the middle of the company's range of load adaptor sizes ranging from the smallest 200 SAE A mount model to the largest 1500 SAE F mount model. The new adaptor features a cast iron housing, 130,000 PSI stress-proof steel shaft, and heavy-duty spherical roller bearings. Designed for either face or foot mounting applications, it handles speeds up to 3500 RPM and is manufactured to ISO 9001:2008 quality standards. Overhung load adaptors protect the shaft seal of the motor, which can improve the operational life of the motor in harsh environment applications.

Posted in: Products, Motion Control

Modular Climbing Robot Splits into Multiple Explorer Bots

A prototype of the Detachable Compliant Modular Robot (DCMR).

Researchers from the Robotics Research Centre at the International Institute of Technology – Hyderabad (IIIT-H), have developed a stair and obstacle climbing robot that can disassemble itself into smaller robots, and then reassemble back into one device. As a composite system, the Detachable Compliant Modular Robot (DCMR) can climb steep obstacles and staircases, and explore uneven terrain. When it detaches into multiple robots, it can explore cramped spaces, traverse flat terrain, and behave as a Multi Agent System (MAS).

Posted in: News, Motion Control, Robotics

Actuated Smartwatch Moves in Five Directions

The Cito prototype rotates, hinges, translates, rises, and orbits to add convenience for smartwatch users. (Credit: Jun Gong)

In an effort to make digital smartwatches more convenient for users, researchers at Dartmouth College and the University of Waterloo have produced a prototype watch face named Cito that moves in five different directions. With the ability to rotate, hinge, translate, rise, and orbit, the model improves functionality and addresses some of the limitations of today’s fixed-face watches.

Posted in: News, Motion Control

Mechanical Actuators Bend as They “Breathe”

The equipment used for testing the new materials. (Credit: MIT)

Extreme temperatures can severely strain a mechanical component because its material may have trouble enduring the heat without degrading. To address the problem, researchers at MIT developed a new material that expands and contracts as it lets oxygen in and out. The result is a new way to make actuators that could be used in extremely hot environments.

Posted in: News, Materials, Mechanical Components, Motion Control

Interface Simplifies Remote Robot Operation

Georgia Institute of Technology researchers created a new interface to remotely control robots that is much simpler and more efficient than current techniques. The user simply points and clicks on an item, then chooses a grasp. The robot does the rest of the work.

The traditional interface for remotely operating robots employs a computer screen and mouse to independently control six degrees of freedom, turning three virtual rings and adjusting arrows to get the robot into position to grab items or perform a specific task. But for someone who isn’t an expert, the ring-and-arrow system is cumbersome and error-prone. It’s not ideal, for example, for older people trying to control assistive robots at home.

Posted in: News, Motion Control, Robotics, Software

New Products: April 2017 Motion Design

Variable Frequency Drives

Through a new partnership, variable frequency drives (VFDs) from American Control Electronics (South Beloit, IL) will now be offered as a product add-on to Brother Gearmotors’ portfolio of sub-fractional AC gearmotors and reducers. OEMs have access to an optimized VFD for the Brother sub-fractional power range instead of purchasing an offthe- shelf VFD that may not be the best fit for the application. For example, a user buying a sub-fractional HP (1/100th to 1/6th HP) gear motor will not have to choose an off-the-shelf VFD rated for 1/4 HP. ACE’s microprocessor-based VFDs control AC motor speed and torque by varying input frequency and voltage.

Posted in: Products, Motion Control

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