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.

Products : Motion Control
Encoder System

The ATOM™ non-contact optical linear and rotary incremental encoder system from Renishaw (Hoffman Estates, IL) combines miniaturization with dirt immunity and signal stability. It features a readhead as small as 6.7 x 12.7 x 20.5 mm, and uses filtering optics with Auto Gain Control (AGC) and Auto Offset Control (AOC). The system...

Products : Motion Control
Machine Automation Controller

Omron Automation and Safety (Schaumburg, IL) offers the Sysmac NJ machine automation controller that provides direct connectivity to SQL databases, including Microsoft SQL, Oracle, IBM DB2, MySQL, and Firebird. It combines logic, motion, vision, and database connectivity into a single platform. It helps users...

News : Motion Control
Pumping Efficiency Into Electric Motors

University of Adelaide (Australia) researchers are using new magnetic materials to develop revolutionary electrical motors and generators that promise significant energy savings. They have used the new motors to develop patented highly efficient water pump systems with potential widespread application.

News : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Astronauts to Test Free-Flying Robotic 'Smart SPHERES'

Three bowling ball-size free-flying Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) have been flying inside the International Space Station since 2006. These satellites provide a test bed for development and research, each having its own power, propulsion,...

News : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Hurricane-Tracking Unmanned Systems Win NASA Challenge
Hurricane-Tracking Unmanned Systems Win NASA Challenge

NASA has selected three winning designs solicited to address the technological limitations of the uncrewed aerial systems (UAS) currently used to track and collect data on hurricanes....

Hurricane-Tracking Unmanned Systems Win NASA Challenge
News : Test & Measurement
NASA Completes Successful Test of Saucer-Shaped Vehicle for Mars Missions

NASA completed a near-space test flight of NASA's Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD), developed to evaluate new landing technologies for future Mars missions. While this initial test was designed to determine the flying ability of the vehicle, it also deployed two...

News : Robotics, Automation & Control
New Drones Ensure Ideal Photographic Lighting Positions

Researchers at MIT and Cornell University will provide photographers with squadrons of small, light-equipped autonomous robots that automatically assume the right positions for photographic lighting.

With the new system, the photographer indicates the direction from which the rim light...

News : Robotics, Automation & Control
Students Design Robotic Gardeners for Deep Space

Graduate students from the University of Colorado Boulder are designing robots to work in a deep-space habitat, tending gardens and growing food for astronaut explorers.

The team's entry in the eXploration HABitat (X-Hab) Academic Innovation Challenge is called "Plants Anywhere: Plants Growing...

News : Robotics, Automation & Control
Synthetic Aperture Sonar Can Help Navy Hunt Sea Mines

Since World War II, sea mines have damaged or sunk four times more U.S. Navy ships than all other means of attack combined, according to a Navy report on mine warfare. New sonar research being performed by the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) could improve the Navy’s ability to find...

Articles : Test & Measurement
The Modern Industrial Workhorse: PID Controllers
The Modern Industrial Workhorse: PID Controllers

Proportional-Integral-Derivative (PID) controllers are used in most automatic process control applications in industry today to regulate flow, temperature, pressure, level, and many other...

The Modern Industrial Workhorse: PID Controllers
News : Motion Control
NASA Decelerators Slow Payloads Traveling at Supersonic Speed

What will it take to land heavier spacecraft on Mars? How will engineers slow large payloads traveling at supersonic speeds in a thin Martian atmosphere? The Low Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) mission will seek to answer these questions.

News : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Mobile Robots Help Technicians Manufacture Airplanes

A new mobile assistant is being developed to support technicians in the airplane manufacturing industry when applying sealant, measuring, and testing — without putting them at risk. In the EU project known as VALERI (Validation of Advanced, Collaborative Robotics for Industrial...

News : Robotics, Automation & Control
New Strain Gauge Enables 'Soft Machines'

Purdue University researchers have developed a technique to embed a liquid-alloy pattern inside a rubber-like polymer to form a network of sensors. The approach may be used to produce "soft machines" made of elastic materials and liquid metals.

Such an elastic technology could be used to create robots...

Articles : Motion Control
High-Temperature Actuators for Aircraft Propulsion Systems

Future “more electric aircraft” (MEA) will require electric actuation systems for control surfaces and engine controls. Electric motors, drive electronics, and mechanisms are essential elements of aircraft actuation in MEAs that incorporate Electro-Magnetic Actuators (EMAs)....

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Probe Positioning System for Antenna Range

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...

Briefs : Motion Control
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...

Application Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
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...

Products : Motion Control
Drive Kits

Avnet Electronics Marketing (Phoenix, AZ) offers the Zynq®-7000 All Programmable SoC/Analog Devices Intelligent Drives Kit for prototyping motor control applications. Combining the Xilinx® Zynq-7000 All Program mable SoC ARM® dual-core Cortex™-A9 + 28 nm programmable logic with the Analog Devices...

Products : Motion Control
Step Motors

Applied Motion Products (Watsonville, CA) has announced the HT range of step motors for DC powered drives available with 10' shielded cables. The motors are available in single- or double-shaft versions with additional encoder or encoder and cover options. The motors are suitable for rugged and industrial applications with stepper...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Actuator

NB Corp. (Hanover Park, IL) offers the BG compact, single-axis actuator with a U-shaped integrated slide and ball screw. The actuator’s rigid structure can be one-end supported. There are four ball circuits contained in the single block.

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Hydraulic Valves

HAWE Hydraulics (Charlotte, NC) offers the PSL/PSV proportional directional spool valve series that can be configured for the hydraulic functions of a silage trailer. These functions include raising/lowering the tailgate or front gate, and operating the scraper floor drive and conveyor drive systems. A modular design permits...

Products : Motion Control
Motor

The EC-4pole 32 HD motors from maxon precision motors (Fall River, MA) are designed for operation in air or in oil (flooded in hydraulic oil). The power rating depends on the surrounding medium and amounts to 220W in air and, due to the much higher heat flow, 480W in oil. They are designed for ambient temperatures of more than 200 °C and...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Nanopositioning System

The P-736.ZR Large Aperture piezo-Z nanopositioning system from PI LP (Auburn, MA) is designed for imaging and fast focusing applications. It consists of a large-aperture piezo stage and a digital controller. The flexure-guided piezo nanopositioning stages are optimized for high resolution and fast step and settle. The...

Products : Motion Control
Tilt Display Mount

Southco (Concordville, PA) has introduced the T Series Tilt Display Mounts with or without counterbalanced constant torque. The AVD25 Tilt Display Mount Basic provides tilt positioning for moving and positioning heavy panels and displays. The counterbalanced version provides even lower operating efforts. The T Series enables...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Inclinometer Sensors

Jewell Instruments (Manchester, NH) offers the Emerald Series inclinometer MEMS sensors in a small rectangular package, enabling installation in areas with space constraints. They can withstand up to 500g shock, and offer single- or dual-power input. Custom ranges and bandwidths are available. The inclinometers can be used...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Rotary Position Sensor

Penny + Giles, a business group of Curtiss-Wright Controls (Christchurch, UK), has introduced the NRH275DR rotary position sensor featuring a low-profile sensor housing and separate permanent magnet assembly. With no contacting mechanical parts that can wear, the sensors can be used in extreme and hostile environments...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Rotary Encoders

HEIDENHAIN (Schaumburg, IL) offers the ExN rotary encoders for Potentially Explosive Atmospheres (ATEX) that feature a 12-mm blind hollow shaft in a sturdy design with increased wall thickness. The encoders are resistant to shock up to 1500 m/s2 (for 2ms), and vibration up to 100 m/s2. The IP 66 encoders handle shaft speeds up to...

Products : Motion Control
Air Cylinders

Fabco-Air (Gainesville, FL) has announced the OEM NFPA cylinders. The FCQN Series is a repairable NFPA interchangeable cylinder line that comes with magnetic pistons for position sensing. Adjustable cushions at both ends of the cylinders are included as a standard option. Stainless steel tie-rods are incorporated into the cylinder...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Motion Control Chip

Mouser Electronics (Mansfield, TX) offers the LPC1500 Motion Control Chip from NXP Semiconductor. The flexible controller can drive a variety of different motors including brushless DC, sensored, sensorless, and permanent magnet motors. The integrated circuit is powered by a 72-MHz ARM Cortex M3 core combined with specialized...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Motorized Actuators

Newport Corp. (Irvine, CA) has introduced the TRB motorized actuator series that provides motorized linear motion with up to 25 mm travel in a lightweight package. The actuators are designed as a direct replacement to the micrometers found in manual positioners or other applications requiring a linear pushing motion like...