Motion Control

Rotary Series Elastic Actuator

The actuator provides motion and sensing for the degrees of freedom in the upper arm of a dexterous humanoid robot.

In order to perform human-like movement, an actuator is placed at each degree of freedom (DOF) in a humanoid robot. Additionally, these actuators must be packaged in an arrangement that approximates human structure and appearance. In this innovation, a rotary actuator assembly incorporates a brushless DC motor, a gear reduction, a variety of sensors, and a custom planar torsion spring to provide motive force, passive compliance, and torque sensing within an anthropomorphic package. The actuator, in various size scales, was designed for the humanoid robot described in “Dexterous Humanoid Robot,” (MSC-24739), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 38, No. 6 (June 2014), p. 52.

Posted in: Briefs, Motion Control, Sensors and actuators, Sensors and actuators, Robotics

Probe Positioning System for Antenna Range

Three or more cables provide the desired positioning.

In situ measurements of antenna patterns on rovers in a simulated terrain are difficult to make with conventional antenna range techniques. The desired pattern data covers a hemisphere above the antenna of interest, which is close to the ground. This is incompatible with traditional measurements that place the antenna under test on a movable support that tilts and rotates.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Motion Control, Antennas, Sensors and actuators, Antennas, Sensors and actuators, Spacecraft

Fluidic Actuators with No Moving Parts

Two new fluidic actuator designs were developed to control fluid flow in ways that will ultimately result in improved system performance and fuel efficiency in to improve the aerodynamic performance of a variety of vehicles. These flow control actuators, often referred to as fluidic oscillators or sweeping jet actuators, utilize the Coanda effect to generate spatially oscillating bursts (or jets). They can be embedded directly into a control surface (such as a wing or a turbine blade) to help reduce flow separation, increase lift, reduce drag, enhance mixing, or increase heat transfer. Recent studies show up to a 60% performance enhancement (such as increased lift or reduced drag) with fluidic actuators.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Motion Control, Sensors and actuators, Sensors and actuators, Aerodynamics

Submersible Pressure Transducer for Tank Fluid Level Monitoring

Monitoring the level of liquid can be accomplished through the use of a pressure transducer. The density of the liquid and its height create pressure on the diaphragm of the pressure transducer to generate an accurate and cost-effective level measurement. Generally, pressure transducers can be used for level measurement from 10 inches of water column up to 10,000 PSI (700 bar).

Posted in: Application Briefs, Motion Control, Sensors and actuators, Sensors and actuators

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

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

Couplings Synchronize Motion in Pipe Bending System

Pines Technology’s (Westlake, OH) Model 250 Heavy Duty CNC bender is a powerful automatic precision system for fast, repeatable bending of tube and pipe up to 10" in diameter. Providing fast setup and changeover advantages, this giant bender has an advanced level of programming to deliver automated high performance and flexibility in tube and pipe bending operations.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Motion Control, Automation, Manufacturing equipment and machinery, Parts

Motors Power NASA’s Interactive Humanoid Tour Guide

RoboThespian is a programmable, interactive humanoid robot designed to communicate, interact, and entertain. First developed in 2006 by Cornish company Engineered Arts, RoboThespian stands 5'9", with a full range of upper-body movement and human-like eyes. NASA will employ the robot’s third generation as a figurehead — meeting and greeting over 1.5 million visitors per year at its futuristic Cape Canaveral base.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Motors & Drives, Human machine interface (HMI), Air transportation facilities, Robotics, Biomechanics

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