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 : Motion Control
Subsurface-Explorer Robot With Spinning-Hammer Drive

A proposed robotic apparatus for underground exploration would propel itself downward in a percussive manner reminiscent of a jackhammer, pile driver, or hammer-and-chisel combination. Called a "subsurface explorer" (SSX), the apparatus (see figure) would include a hammer that would be moved...

Briefs : Motion Control
Software for Selecting Modes of Vibration of a Structure

A computer program facilitates the selection of the dominant modes of vibration of a structure - especially the dominant modes that interact with specific locations on the structure. This program is intended for use in conjunction with any of the various vibration-mode-analysis programs...

Briefs : Motion Control
Miniature Electroactive-Polymer Rakes

Miniature electroactive-polymer rakes (MEARs) are undergoing development for eventual use as simple, lightweight, inexpensive low-power-consumption devices that would remove soil, dust, and/or other loose particulate matter from the surfaces of solid objects. In the original intended application, MEARs is...

Briefs : Motion Control
Vibrational and Thermal Isolator for Spacecraft Electronics

Engineers at Johnson Space Center have invented a relatively inexpensive, lightweight device that provides vibrational and thermal isolation for low-power electronic equipment. The device was developed for use in outer space, where it has already proven successful in connection with...

Briefs : Motion Control
Self-Tuning Impact Dampers for Turbomachine Blades

Self-tuning impact dampers have been proposed as improved means for suppressing vibrations in the rotor blades of turbomachines (turbines and compressors). Dampers are needed because aeroelastic blade/flow interactions in a turbomachine cause the blades to vibrate intensely, with resultant...

Briefs : Motion Control
Double-Parallelogram Carriage for Spectrometer Mirrors

A double-parallelogram ("porch swing") carriage mechanism has been devised to provide for free linear motion of one or more retroreflector(s) in a Fourier-transform infrared spectrometer. Mechanisms like this one are particularly well suited for cryogenic high-resolution Fourier transform...

Briefs : Motion Control
Using Microwave Radiometers To Prevent Unstarts

Measurement and control systems based on microwave radiometers would be used to prevent unstarts in the next generation of high-speed (up to mach 2.4) civil-transport airplanes, according to a proposal. "Unstart" denotes a compressor stall in a supersonic aircraft engine, and is caused by a change...

Briefs : Motion Control
Non-Ablative Aeroshells

Two reports propose the development of non-ablative aeroshells for braking of spacecraft entering the atmospheres of Earth, Mars, and other planets. The primary advantages of non-ablative aeroshells, relative to ablative aeroshells, results from reduced mass and increased aerodynamic stability of the aeroshell occasioned...

Briefs : Motion Control
Packages of Circuitry for Controlling a Robotic Vehicle

Proposed packages called "remote engineering units" (REUs) would contain all the electronic circuitry needed to implement a subset of the design of the motor-control system of a robot. The REUs were conceived, specifically, for incorporation into small robotic vehicles (the Mars '03/05...

Briefs : Motion Control
Novel Radiator for a Space Suit

An improved radiator has been designed to provide inexpensive and highly reliable thermal control for an extravehicular mobility unit (EMU) [basically, a space suit equipped with a portable life-support system (PLSS)]. The amount of cooling fluid (which could be water) needed to obtain a given degree of thermal...

Briefs : Motion Control
Spin Bearings

Spin bearings have been invented as alternatives to such conventional rolling-element bearings as ball, spherical, needle, and roller bearings. Like a conventional bearing assembly, a spin-bearing assembly includes opposing complementary support members (more specifically, bearing races) spaced apart by rolling elements (more...

Briefs : Motion Control
Advanced, Lightweight, Low-Power-Consumption Actuator Brake

An advanced, lightweight, low-power consumption brake has been developed to satisfy NASA's special requirements for use on actuators during spaceflight. This brake can increase the stopping, holding, and parking ability of a spacecraft while reducing its electrical power consumption....

Briefs : Motion Control
Controlling Speed of a Robotic Vehicle Over Rough Terrain

A method of computing the speed at which to command an autonomous robotic vehicle to travel over rough terrain has been devised. The method amounts to a robotic implementation of the practice in which, during approach to a visibly rough surface, a human driver intuitively reduces the...

Briefs : Motion Control
Estimation of Wheel-Contact State of a Robotic Vehicle

A method of estimating the state of contact between (1) the wheels of a robotic vehicle equipped with a rocker-bogey suspension and (2) the ground has been devised. The contact-state information is used to estimate the position of the vehicle with an accuracy greater than that achievable by...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
First-Order Theory of Control of Motion of a Crane and Load

A first-order mathematical model has been developed in a theoretical study of the dynamics of a load suspended by a cable from a crane that moves along a straight track. The model is the basis of a proposed method of computer control of the velocity as well as the position of the crane...

Briefs : Motion Control
Temporary Fullerene Films in Microelectromechanical Devices

In a proposed technique for fabrication of microelectromechanical devices, thin films of fullerenes would be used as temporary packaging to protect and position delicate components. The initial application of this technique would likely occur in the fabrication of devices in which...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Inertial/GPS Pointing and Positioning System

A data system generates information on the position and orientation of a pointing instrument (e.g., a telescope or a laser) that could be mounted on a moving platform (e.g., an aircraft) and generate platform-steering commands for pointing the instrument at a known target (e.g., a target on the...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Conformably Stowable Canard

An improved secondary wing system of the canard type has been invented to improve performance and increase efficiency of airplanes capable of flight at supersonic and high subsonic speeds. Canards, including small forward-mounted secondary wings, are used to increase the total wing surface areas of airplanes in order...

Briefs : Motion Control
Manually Operated Weld-Filler-Wire Feeder

A simple, manually operated mechanical device will ensure a smooth and predictable motion when feeding filler wire into a molten weld pool in gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW). This device simplifies and/or reduces the requirements for a dexterous hand to hold and manipulate filler wire. This device will...

Briefs : Motion Control
Asymmetric Dual-Axis Goniometer for Positioning on a Sphere

The ability to position an object at various locations corresponding to a portion of a spherical surface has long been accomplished using nested goniometers, in which, as observed from above, the apparent motion is readily described in a Cartesian ("XY") frame. In certain applications,...

Briefs : Motion Control
Multiple-DOF Surface-Acoustic-Wave Piezoelectric Motors

Surface-acoustic-wave (SAW) piezoelectric motors capable of operating in multiple degrees of freedom (DOFs) simultaneously have been proposed. A particularly useful motor of this type could provide both linear and rotary motions. Another particularly useful motor of this type would feature...

Briefs : Motion Control
Electrohydrodynamic Pumping Enhances Operation of Heat Pipe

Experiments have shown that electrohydrodynamic pumping can be utilized to increase the heat-transport capacity of a heat pipe. More specifically, electrohydrodynamic pumping can be used to increase the flow of liquid to the evaporator section of the heat pipe; the increased flow helps...

Briefs : Motion Control
Rolling-Piston Compressor With Flow-Through Lubrication

The figure presents a simplified and partly schematic view of a two-stage rolling-piston compressor that is undergoing development for use as the prime mover in a vapor-compression heat pump. In comparison with equally rated compressors used heretofore in vapor-compression heat pumps, this...

Briefs : Motion Control
Closed/Momentary-Opening/Closed Solenoid Valve

A proposed solenoid-actuated valve would open for a short time to pass a very small quantity of fluid. The valve could be used to meter a specified total quantity of the fluid through repeated actuations.

Briefs : Motion Control
Formulation and Algorithm for Multi-Flexible-Body Dynamics

An improved formulation of the dynamics of multiple flexible bodies coupled via joints, and an algorithm that implements the formulation, have been developed at Johnson Space Center (JSC). A robot arm with multiple, somewhat flexible links is a prime example of a dynamic system to which...

Briefs : Motion Control
Myoelectric Teleoperation for Robotics and Prosthetics

Johnson Space Center is sponsoring continuing research on the use of myoelectric signals to control dexterous robotic and prosthetic hands. This research is expected to advance the state of the art beyond that of today's most common, commercially available, myoelectrically controlled...

Briefs : Motion Control
Efficient Periodic Driving of Piezoelectric Benders

Modified Hartley oscillator circuits are being developed for use in driving large piezoelectric benders in periodic motion, as in some piezoelectrically driven pumps. These circuits decrease the time-averaged consumption of power and thus increase energy efficiency by recycling large fractions...

Briefs : Motion Control
Non-Inertial Calibration of Vibratory Gyroscopes

A proposed method of calibration of micromachined vibratory gyroscopes would make it unnecessary to test the gyroscopes at known rates of rotation. At present, calibration entails inertial tests in which the gyroscopes are exposed to tumble and rotation maneuvers on multiaxis precise rotation...

Briefs : Motion Control
Acoustic-Emission-Analysis System for Diagnosis of Machinery

A personal-computer-based system has been developed as a prototype of electronic signal-processing and computing systems for diagnosis of turbines, motors, and other rotary machines through analysis of acoustic emissions. The system includes acoustic sensors that respond in the...

Briefs : Motion Control
Motion-Measuring Circuit for a Vibratory Capacitive Sensor

The figure illustrates an improved electronic circuit that generates a signal proportional to either the instantaneous vibrational velocity or the instantaneous position (equivalently, the instantaneous vibrational displacement) of a vibratory capacitive sensor of the type discussed in...

Question of the Week
Will Cooling Coatings Catch On?


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