Motion Control

Wing-Flapping Aircraft Hovers and Flies

Life-sized, hummingbird-like, unmanned surveillance aircraft weighs two-thirds of an ounce, including batteries and video camera.

The Nano Hummingbird is a miniature aircraft developed under the Nano Air Vehicle (NAV) program funded through the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). DARPA was established to prevent strategic surprise from negatively impacting U.S. national security, and to create strategic surprise for U.S. adversaries by maintaining the technological superiority of the U.S. military. The agency relies on diverse performers to apply multidisciplinary approaches to advance knowledge through basic research, and create innovative technologies that address current practical problems through applied research.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Motion Control, Product development, Military aircraft

NASA Tests Robot Swarms for Autonomous Movement

NASA engineers and interns are testing a group of robots and related software that will show whether it's possible for autonomous machines to scurry about an alien world such as the Moon, searching for and gathering resources just as an ant colony does.

Posted in: News, Communications, Wireless, Electronics & Computers, Motion Control, Antennas, RF & Microwave Electronics, Automation, Robotics, Software

NASA Begins Engine Test of Space Launch System Rocket

Engineers are preparing to test parts of NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket that will send humans to space. They installed an RS-25 engine on the A-1 Test Stand at Stennis Space Center. The Stennis team will perform developmental and flight certification testing of the RS-25 engine, a modified version of the space shuttle main engine. The SLS's core stage will be powered by a configuration of four RS-25 engines.

Posted in: News, Aerospace, Aviation, Motion Control, Motors & Drives, Power Transmission, Test & Measurement

Students Learn On-the-Fly Engineering in Solar Car Competition

Nine teams of solar powered model cars competed during the inaugural Junior Solar Sprint (JSS) competition held at the STEM Education and Outreach Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD. The JSS is a nationwide competition funded by the Army Educational Outreach Program, which challenges teams of students from elementary and middle school to design, construct, and race small model cars powered entirely by solar energy.

Posted in: News, Automotive, Energy, Renewable Energy, Solar Power, Motion Control, Motors & Drives

'Active' Surfaces Control How Particles Move

Researchers at MIT and in Saudi Arabia have developed a new way of making surfaces that can actively control how fluids or particles move across them. The work might enable new kinds of biomedical or microfluidic devices, or solar panels that could automatically clean themselves of dust and grit.The system makes use of a microtextured surface, with bumps or ridges just a few micrometers across, that is then impregnated with a fluid that can be manipulated — for example, an oil infused with tiny magnetic particles, or ferrofluid, which can be pushed and pulled by applying a magnetic field to the surface. When droplets of water or tiny particles are placed on the surface, a thin coating of the fluid covers them, forming a magnetic cloak.The thin magnetized cloak can then actually pull the droplet or particle along as the layer itself is drawn magnetically across the surface. Tiny ferromagnetic particles, approximately 10 nanometers in diameter, in the ferrofluid could allow precision control when it’s needed — such as in a microfluidic device used to test biological or chemical samples by mixing them with a variety of reagents. Unlike the fixed channels of conventional microfluidics, such surfaces could have “virtual” channels that could be reconfigured at will.The new approach could be useful for a range of applications: For example, solar panels and the mirrors used in solar-concentrating systems can quickly lose a significant percentage of their efficiency when dust, moisture, or other materials accumulate on their surfaces. But if coated with such an active surface material, a brief magnetic pulse could be used to sweep the material away.Source

Also: Read more Materials tech briefs.

Posted in: News, Energy, Renewable Energy, Solar Power, Fluid Handling, Drug Delivery, Medical, Motion Control

Redundant Sensors Improve Precision and Reliability

Some machine processes, such as presses, can require extreme accuracy in applying and holding force on an object. A popular way to measure force is via load cells. But what do you do when the accuracy required by a particular application is higher than that guaranteed by the load cell manufacturer?

Posted in: Articles, Motion Control, Sensors and actuators

Motion Control System Gives Farmers a Hands-Free Approach in Vehicles

The important job of a farmer requires long hours of field work. The often monotonous tasks of driving agricultural vehicles to work long rows in the field — whether it be planting, maintenance, or harvesting — is undeniably arduous and fraught with potential for human error. With advances in the development of mechanical steering devices, farmers can now program steering patterns to allow their vehicles to operate hands-free and more accurately than ever before.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Motion Control, Steering systems, Human factors, Agricultural vehicles and equipment

Compact Active Vibration Control System

A highly directional actuator can be shaped so that it couples to the response of a flexible structure in the same manner as point sensors.

This innovation consists of an analog controller, diamond-shaped patch actuator, and point sensors (such as accelerometers). The actuator is designed to couple to the flexural response of the structure in the same manner as a group of point sensors. This results in a co-located transducer pair. The signals from all sensors are combined, filtered, and amplified within the analog controller. The resulting signal is then applied to the actuator, which generates a control force out-of-phase with the measured response. Because the transducers are co-located, the vibration control system is inherently robust to variations in properties of the underlying structure that is being controlled. This type of control system actively suppresses the vibration of a flexible structure using surface-mounted transducers without any external mechanical connections.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Motion Control, Electronic control systems, Vibration

Deep Throttling Turbopump

Advancement in space exploration necessitates deep throttling of liquid cryogenic rocket engines. Both lunar and Martian robotic and human exploration require engines that can be deep throttled,can start and restart, have a long life, and require minimal maintenance. An engine that is capable of deep throttling at low thrust levels and is versatile enough to accommodate multiple applications would advance the state of the art and enable NASA to meet space exploration objectives. An advanced partial emission turbo pump design is an enabling technology for developing such low thrust level engines. This will complement the current state-of-the-art full emission pump technology.

Posted in: Briefs, Motion Control, Rocket engines, Throttles

Analyzing Rollover Stability of Capsules With Airbags Using LS-Dyna

This method interpolates data to predict the stability boundaries for a capsule on airbags.

As NASA moves towards developing technologies needed to implement its new Exploration program, studies conducted for Apollo in the 1960s to understand the rollover stability of capsules landing are being revisited. Although rigid body kinematics analyses of the rollover behavior of capsules on impact provided critical insight to the Apollo problem, extensive ground test programs were also used. For the new Orion spacecraft, airbag designs have improved sufficiently for NASA to consider their use to mitigate landing loads to ensure crew safety and to enable reusability of the capsule.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Motion Control, Stability control, Airbag systems, Spacecraft

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