Motion Control

Aircraft Engine Coating Could Triple Service Life and Save Fuel

Researchers at University West in Sweden are using nanoparticles in the heat-insulating surface layer that protects aircraft engines from heat. In tests, this increased the service life of the coating by 300%. The hope is that motors with the new layers will be in production within two years. The surface layer is sprayed on top of the metal components. Thanks to this extra layer, the engine is shielded from heat. The temperature can also be raised, which leads to increased efficiency, reduced emissions, and decreased fuel consumption.

Posted in: News, Aerospace, Aviation, Energy, Energy Efficiency, Ceramics, Coatings & Adhesives, Materials, Motion Control, Nanotechnology, Power Transmission

Engineers Develop 'Simple' Robotic Swarms

University of Sheffield engineers have developed a way of making hundreds — or even thousands — of tiny robots cluster to carry out tasks. The robots do not require memory or processing power. Each robot uses just one sensor that indicates the presence of another nearby robot. Based on the sensor's findings, the robots will either rotate on the spot, or move around in a circle until one can be seen.Until now, robotic swarms have required complex programming, complicating the development of miniaturized, individual robots. With the programming created by the Sheffield team, however, nanoscale machines are possible.SourceAlso: Learn about a Kinematic Calibration Process for Flight Robotic Arms.

Posted in: News, Motion Control, Automation, Robotics, Sensors

Mini Science Lab Detects Multiple Bio Agents

It can cost hundreds of dollars and days to scan biological materials for important biomarkers that signal diseases such as diabetes or cancer using industry standard equipment. Researchers face enormous time constraints and financial hurdles from having to run these analyses on a regular basis. A Northeastern University professor has developed a single instrument that can do multiple scans at a fraction of the time and cost. That's because it uses considerably less material and ultra-sensitive detection methods to do the same thing.

ScanDrop is a portable instrument no bigger than a shoebox that has the capacity to detect a variety of biological specimen. For that reason it will benefit a wide range of users beyond the medical community, including environmental monitoring and basic scientific research.

The instrument acts as a miniature science lab, of sorts. It contains a tiny chip, made of polymer or glass, connected to equally tiny tubes. An extremely small-volume liquid sample — whether it's water or a biological fluid such as serum — flows in one of those tubes, through the lab-on-a-chip device, and out the other side. While inside, the sample is exposed to a slug of microscopic beads functionalized to react with the lab test's search parameters. The beads fluoresce when the specific marker or cell in question has been detected; from there, an analysis by ScanDrop can provide the concentration levels of that marker or cell.

Because the volumes being tested with ScanDrop are so small, the testing time dwindles to just minutes. This means you could get near-real time measures of a changing sample — be it bacteria levels in a flowing body of water or dynamic insulin levels in the bloodstream of a person with diabetes.


Posted in: News, Environmental Monitoring, Green Design & Manufacturing, Fluid Handling, Diagnostics, Medical, Motion Control, Detectors, Sensors, Measuring Instruments, Test & Measurement

Designing a Multi-Segmented Robot for Hull Climbing

The Multi-segmented Magnetic Ro bot (MSMR) project addresses a capability gap in the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance needs of the U.S. Navy visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS); Navy SEALs; and Marine Force Reconnaissance teams. A segmented robotic platform with magnetic wheels and a minimal acoustic signature was developed that can navigate the hull, tanks, and passageways of a ship. The goal was to provide effective climbing and turning ability over and within a ferrous hull that typically features plumbing, protrusions, and indentations such as weld seams where hull plating meets. Such a robot will be able to climb the hull of a ship, provide covert perch-and-stare surveillance of the deck area, and wirelessly transmit audio/video before a search team boards. The technology is also promising for inspection of tanks, and dangerous or hard-to-reach passageways and voids in maritime vessels.

Posted in: Articles, Motion Control, Robotics, Inspections, Marine vehicles and equipment, Military vehicles and equipment

Embedded Servo Drive Boosts Speed of Packaging Lines

Pfankuch Machinery, based in Ahrensburg, Germany, is a leading manufacturer of friction feeder systems for inserting leaflets and products into sales packaging. An embedded smart servo drive from Metronix (part of the Apex Tool Group in Sparks, MD) has allowed Pfankuch to increase the speed of its latest friction feeder — the SmartFeeder — by 50% while also doubling the positioning accuracy. This offers a massive gain in productivity for the many users of this type of packaging equipment in markets including pharmaceutical, and food and beverage processing. At the same time, the new embedded drive minimizes the hardware costs of the upgrade for Pfankuch, because the drive was adapted for the application, providing a stripped-down product suitable for OEM integration that eliminates numerous expensive components.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Motion Control, Packaging, Productivity

Driving Simulator Helps Engineers Calculate Human Factor

Simulations are an important development tool in the automobile and utility vehicle. The properties of vehicle components, such as how they respond in an accident, their reliability, or their energy efficiency can be investigated using simulations before the first component is manufactured. Researchers developed an interactive driving simulator using RODOS (robot-based driving and operation simulator) with which realistic interaction between human and vehicle can be analyzed.

Posted in: News, Motion Control, Automation, Robotics, Simulation Software, Software, Automotive, Transportation

Moving Magnet Voice Coil Actuators Offer Controllable Movement for High-Duty-Cycle Applications

There are two types of voice coil actuators: moving coil and moving magnet. The materials of construction are similar, since they both use rare earth magnets, steel, copper wire, and basic insulation materials. There is a tendency to want to say one type is better suited for certain applications; however, there are many different sizes and shapes of voice coil actuators, making it difficult to make blanket statements about which type of actuator works better, and where.

Posted in: Articles, Motion Control, Sensors and actuators, Copper, Insulation, Steel

Integrated Motion Solution Keeps Laser Marking Machine Costs Down

As the demands of traceability and compliance are put on manufacturers, using a laser provides permanent marking of a variety of information, including 2D bar codes, serial numbers, company information, and logos.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Motion Control, Supply chain management, Identification, Packaging

Autonomous Robotic Manipulation (ARM)

This sensor-driven, model-based approach can be applied to small-batch manufacturing processes and explosive ordnance disposal.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California

Autonomous robotic manipulators have the potential to increase manufacturing efficiency, provide in-home care, and reduce the risk to humans in hazardous situations. The current challenge in autonomous robotic manipulation is to approach the capabilities of dedicated, one-off manipulators in known environments with versatile, inexpensive, and ubiquitous manipulator systems that can operate in a range of environments with only high-level human input.

Posted in: Briefs, Motion Control, Robotics

Sliding Gait for ATHLETE Mobility

A new concept was developed for a walking-driving hybrid in which wheels are repositioned by sliding them along the ground.

ATHLETE (All-Terrain Hex-Limbed Extra-Terrestrial Explorer) is a multipurpose mobility platform for planetary surfaces. It is a cross between a wheeled rover and a walking robot, and travels using powered wheels mounted on the end of each of six robotic limbs. Each limb is a fully articulated robotic manipulator with six or seven degrees of freedom.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Motion Control, Robotics, Autonomous vehicles

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