Motion Control/​Automation

Explore the latest developments in motion control and automation. Discover innovative advances from NASA and major research labs in robotics, autonomous vehicles, industrial automation, PID controller applications, motor drives and power transmissions.

White Papers : Design
Enhancing Aerospace Interior Design with Lightweight Positioning Technology

The continued pressure from airlines to aircraft manufacturers to keep fuel costs down drives the need to engineer light weight, fuel efficient planes. For aircraft seating designers, reducing the weight of the aircraft while preserving a quality experience for the...

White Papers : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Improve Your Production Quality Using Color Measurement Sensors

In many industries, color implies quality. Particularly with consumer goods that arrive at the final customer, the exact color shade affects the value and identity of the product and the brand. Therefore, it is crucial to match the correct color shade in the production process and...

Blog : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
A 'DEAnsect' Robot Takes 10 Hits from a Fly Swatter – And Survives
A 'DEAnsect' Robot Takes 10 Hits from a Fly Swatter – And Survives
A fun way to show the robustness of a soft robot? Swat it.
A 'DEAnsect' Robot Takes 10 Hits from a Fly Swatter – And Survives
Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
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 : Robotics, Automation & Control
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 : Communications
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 : RF & Microwave Electronics
Robot Performs Complex Maneuvers
Robot Performs Complex Maneuvers
An upgraded mini robot can leap over obstacles with ease.
Robot Performs Complex Maneuvers
Briefs : Green Design & Manufacturing
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 : Aerospace
Helping Autonomous Vehicles See Around Corners
Helping Autonomous Vehicles See Around Corners
A system senses tiny changes in shadows on the ground to determine if there’s a moving object coming around the corner.
Helping Autonomous Vehicles See Around Corners
Briefs : Data Acquisition
Modular Toolbox Builds Safe Robots
Modular Toolbox Builds Safe Robots
Various components are used to assemble robots that are more aware of their surroundings.
Modular Toolbox Builds Safe Robots
Briefs : Nanotechnology
Microrobot Powered by Soft Muscles
Microrobot Powered by Soft Muscles
This microrobot with soft actuators can crash, fall, and collide without being damaged.
Microrobot Powered by Soft Muscles
Blog : Robotics, Automation & Control
How to Fix Satellites — With Satellites
How to Fix Satellites — With Satellites
If a satellite breaks in orbit, there's not much that can be done. A professor envisions a new idea for refueling and repair.
How to Fix Satellites — With Satellites
Blog : Aerospace
Countdown: The Top Stories of 2019
Countdown: The Top Stories of 2019

Tech Briefs in 2019 celebrated historic NASA anniversaries, new ways to power electronics, and innovative hacks of our “smartest” technologies.

Countdown: The Top Stories of 2019
INSIDER : Robotics, Automation & Control
Intelligent Microrobot Moves Without A Visible Force

Researchers developed a microrobot that measures a few micrometers across and resembles a paper bird made with origami. It flaps its wings or bends its neck and retracts its head via magnetism. The movements take place within milliseconds; programming of the nanomagnets only takes a few...

On-Demand Webinars : Automotive
Collaborative Robot Applications in the Automotive Industry

Smaller, easier to program, quick to implement, and typically one-third the cost of industrial bots, collaborative robots are more than being noticed in the industry. Recently a global director of manufacturing engineering integration at a major automotive OEM was quoted as saying...

White Papers : Motion Control
Safety First - the Position Determination and Checking Algorithms of the RESOLUTE™ True-Absolute Optical Encoder

This white paper gives an overview of the operation of the RESOLUTE absolute encoder and describes in detail the safety aspects of its position determination and checking algorithms. The RESOLUTE range of true absolute encoders...

White Papers : Robotics, Automation & Control
Detailed Technical Comparison of Automotive Serial Buses

Point-to-point automotive networks deployed in the 1980s were replaced by bus-based networks in the 1990s, with CAN bus emerging as the industry standard. Since then, the complexity of vehicle electronic systems has grown exponentially to include hundreds of sensors and controllers and...

White Papers : Robotics, Automation & Control
Solving the E/E Dilemma of Electric and Autonomous Vehicles

As automotive manufacturers and suppliers develop advanced technologies to realize the trends of autonomy, connectivity, electrification, and shared mobility, they are encountering a number of dilemmas as each trend drives different aspects of vehicle development. This paper will focus...

Articles : Robotics, Automation & Control
Collaborative Automation: It's More Than Just the Cobot
Collaborative Automation: It's More Than Just the Cobot
“Cobots” allow companies of almost any size to automate processes that were previously out of reach.
Collaborative Automation: It's More Than Just the Cobot
Articles : Communications
The Role of Sensors in the Evolution of Robotics
The Role of Sensors in the Evolution of Robotics
Sensing technology will help to transform manufacturing floors into the connected factories of the future.
The Role of Sensors in the Evolution of Robotics
Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
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 : Sensors/Data Acquisition
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 : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
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 : Manufacturing & Prototyping
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
Application Briefs : Motion Control
Docking System Enables Safe Rendezvous in Space
Docking System Enables Safe Rendezvous in Space
The ESA has commissioned its industry partners to design a new docking system called the International Berthing and Docking Mechanism (IBDM).
Docking System Enables Safe Rendezvous in Space
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 : Wearables
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
Products : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
New Products: December 2019 Motion Design
New Products: December 2019 Motion Design
Actuators, Encoders, Gripping Tools, and More
New Products: December 2019 Motion Design
Application Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Valve Position Sensor Protects Switch Boxes from Salt Environment
Valve Position Sensor Protects Switch Boxes from Salt Environment
Salty air the Dutch city of Harlingen causes exposed metal parts to corrode.
Valve Position Sensor Protects Switch Boxes from Salt Environment
Facility Focus : Semiconductors & ICs
Facility Focus: NASA John H. Glenn Research Center
Facility Focus: NASA John H. Glenn Research Center
Glenn's research facilities have contributed to decades of technology advances.
Facility Focus: NASA John H. Glenn Research Center