Motion Control

Access our comprehensive library of technical briefs on motion control, from engineering experts at NASA and major government, university, and commercial laboratories.

Briefs : Materials
Robotic “Cockroach” Explores Underwater Environments
Robotic “Cockroach” Explores Underwater Environments
This microbot can walk on land, swim, and walk underwater.
Robotic “Cockroach” Explores Underwater Environments
Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Particle Robot Works as a Cluster of Simple Units
Particle Robot Works as a Cluster of Simple Units
Loosely connected disc-shaped “particles” can push and pull one another, moving together to transport objects.
Particle Robot Works as a Cluster of Simple Units
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Wireless Sensor “Stickers” Track Physiological Signals
Wireless Sensor “Stickers” Track Physiological Signals
These stickers wirelessly beam health readings to a receiver clipped onto clothing.
Wireless Sensor “Stickers” Track Physiological Signals
Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Robot Performs Complex Maneuvers
Robot Performs Complex Maneuvers
An upgraded mini robot can leap over obstacles with ease.
Robot Performs Complex Maneuvers
Briefs : Transportation
Power System for Hybrid Heavy-Duty Trucks
Power System for Hybrid Heavy-Duty Trucks
Electric motors and gas-alcohol engines could slash pollution levels and greenhouse gases from long-haul trucks.
Power System for Hybrid Heavy-Duty Trucks
Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
WiFi-Based Technique Measures Speed and Distance of Indoor Movement
WiFi-Based Technique Measures Speed and Distance of Indoor Movement
A technology uses a combination of WiFi signals and accelerometer technology to track devices in near-real-time.
WiFi-Based Technique Measures Speed and Distance of Indoor Movement
Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Biologically Inspired Artificial Skin Improves Sensory Ability of Robots
Biologically Inspired Artificial Skin Improves Sensory Ability of Robots
A synthetic skin enables robots to sense their own bodies and surroundings
Biologically Inspired Artificial Skin Improves Sensory Ability of Robots
Briefs : Motion Control
Self-Contained Wheel Unit
Self-Contained Wheel Unit
Researchers have developed a self-contained wheel unit that combines a wheel and an electric motor.
Self-Contained Wheel Unit
Briefs : Motion Control
Precision Low-Speed Motor Controller
Precision Low-Speed Motor Controller
The technology can be used in commercial motors, robotic systems, and hybrid and electric vehicles.
Precision Low-Speed Motor Controller
Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Algorithm Gives Robots a Faster Grasp
Algorithm Gives Robots a Faster Grasp
The algorithm speeds up the planning process that robots use to adjust their grip on objects.
Algorithm Gives Robots a Faster Grasp
Briefs : Internet of Things
Artificial Skin Provides Haptic Feedback
Artificial Skin Provides Haptic Feedback
The skin could help rehabilitation and enhance virtual reality by instantaneously adapting to a wearer's movements.
Artificial Skin Provides Haptic Feedback
Briefs : Materials
Motion-Powered, Fireproof Sensor
Motion-Powered, Fireproof Sensor

Researchers have created a motion-powered, fireproof sensor that can track the movements of firefighters, steelworkers, miners, and others who work in high-risk environments where they cannot always be seen....

Motion-Powered, Fireproof Sensor
Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Soft Robotics Perception System
Soft Robotics Perception System

A perception system for soft robots was developed that is inspired by the way humans process information about their own bodies in space and in relation to other objects and people. The system includes a...

Soft Robotics Perception System
Briefs : Wearables
Wearable Motion Sensors Measure Fetal Heartbeat

A technique was developed that could allow expectant parents to hear their baby’s heartbeat continuously at home with a non-invasive and safe device that is potentially more accurate than any fetal heartrate monitor currently available in the market.

Briefs : Motion Control
Tiny “Walking” Motor Moves in Discrete Mechanical Steps
Tiny “Walking” Motor Moves in Discrete Mechanical Steps

A set of five tiny fundamental parts can be assembled into a wide variety of functional devices including a tiny “walking” motor that can move back and forth across a surface or...

Tiny “Walking” Motor Moves in Discrete Mechanical Steps
Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
High-Speed 3D Printer for High-Performance Plastics
High-Speed 3D Printer for High-Performance Plastics

3D printers that build small parts layer by layer from melted plastic can take up to an hour to produce a pocket-sized piece. This process is far too slow for the mass-production of...

High-Speed 3D Printer for High-Performance Plastics
Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Neural Lander Uses AI to Land Drones Smoothly

Landing multi-rotor drones smoothly is difficult. Complex turbulence is created by the airflow from each rotor bouncing off the ground during a descent. This turbulence is not well understood nor is it easy to compensate for, particularly for autonomous drones. That is why takeoff and landing are...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Smartphone App Programs Robots
Smartphone App Programs Robots

A smartphone app was developed that allows a user to easily program any robot to perform a mundane activity such as picking up parts from one area and delivering them to another. The app, called VRa, uses...

Smartphone App Programs Robots
Briefs : Automotive
High-Sensitivity, Low-Noise MEMS Accelerometer
High-Sensitivity, Low-Noise MEMS Accelerometer

A high-sensitivity and low-noise MEMS accelerometer was developed using multi-layer metal structures composed of multiple metal layers. The accelerometer achieves 1 μG level resolution that has...

High-Sensitivity, Low-Noise MEMS Accelerometer
Briefs : Motion Control
Miniature Stretchable Pump
Miniature Stretchable Pump

Soft robots have a distinct advantage over rigid robots: they can adapt to complex environments, handle fragile objects, and interact safely with humans. Made from silicone, rubber, or other stretchable polymers,...

Miniature Stretchable Pump
Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Automated System Generates Robotic Parts
Automated System Generates Robotic Parts

An automated system designs and 3D-prints complex robotic parts that are optimized according to an enormous number of specifications. The system fabricates actuators — devices that mechanically...

Automated System Generates Robotic Parts
Briefs : Test & Measurement
Antenna Near-Field Probe Station Scanner

Antenna characterization techniques are often expensive and time-consuming. NASA’s Glenn Research Center developed a highly versatile and automated system to perform characterization of single or multiple small circuit antennas, printed on-wafer or on other substrates, by measuring the antenna’s...

Briefs : Motion Control
Software Enables Robots to Self-Right After Overturning
Software Enables Robots to Self-Right After Overturning

The Advanced Explosive Ordnance Disposal Robotic System (AEODRS) features a modular open systems architecture that enables the robot to be self-righting after a fall. The self-righting...

Software Enables Robots to Self-Right After Overturning
Briefs : Defense
New Sensor Could Shake Up Earthquake Response Efforts
New Sensor Could Shake Up Earthquake Response Efforts
Berkeley Lab technology could reduce time needed to declare buildings affected by earthquakes safe and sound.
New Sensor Could Shake Up Earthquake Response Efforts
Briefs : Motion Control
New Piston Design Features Soft, Flexible Materials
New Piston Design Features Soft, Flexible Materials

Conventional pistons are made of a rigid chamber and a piston inside that can slide along the chamber’s inner wall while at the same time maintaining a tight seal. As a result, the piston...

New Piston Design Features Soft, Flexible Materials
Briefs : Test & Measurement
Sensor-Packed Glove Learns Signatures of the Human Grasp
Sensor-Packed Glove Learns Signatures of the Human Grasp

Wearing a sensor-packed glove while handling a variety of objects, researchers compiled a dataset that enables an AI system to recognize objects through touch alone. The information...

Sensor-Packed Glove Learns Signatures of the Human Grasp
Briefs : Motion Control
Hybrid Robot Flies, Creeps, and Leaps Off Buildings
Hybrid Robot Flies, Creeps, and Leaps Off Buildings

There is great potential in using both drones and ground-based robots for situations like disaster response, but generally these platforms either fly or creep along the ground. The flying...

Hybrid Robot Flies, Creeps, and Leaps Off Buildings
Briefs : Motion Control
Lunar Surface Manipulation System
Lunar Surface Manipulation System

NASA's Langley Research Center offers a novel lifting and precision positioning device with hybrid functional characteristics of both crane-type lifting devices and robotic manipulators. The design of the...

Lunar Surface Manipulation System
Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Snake-Inspired Robot
Snake-Inspired Robot

Researchers have developed a new and improved snake-inspired soft robot that is faster and more precise than its predecessor.

Snake-Inspired Robot
Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Calculating the Estimated Fatigue Life of a Disc Spring
Calculating the Estimated Fatigue Life of a Disc Spring

In discussing fatigue life, it is important to distinguish between disc springs and conical spring washers, as they differ by design and intended usage. Conical spring washers are...

Calculating the Estimated Fatigue Life of a Disc Spring
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