Medical scientists at Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD) have constructed the "PneuStep," a prototype pneumatic step motor that is the first of its kind. The motor was developed as part of a project for a robot that could operate precisely within the closed bore of high-intensity MRI equipment. The pneumatic nature of the step motor was seen as ideal in the magnetic environment of an MRI machine. The motor is constructed of dielectric and nonmagnetic material, using air formotion and light for fiber optic encoding. A robot actualized by PneuStep motors has been completed and is currently under evaluation.

The PneuStep is designed so that the end-to-end motion of the piston with its cylinder is always exact. The step motor is designed to collect small end-to-end motion strokes in rotary motion. An end-of-stroke motion makes a step. The PneuStep prototype has been constructed in two sizes.

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