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.

Deep space missions, like the ones going to outer planets and those that rely on solar photovoltaic power, need extremely large solar arrays to produce that power for...

Existing technologies [Loop Heat Pipe (LHP) and passive Thermal Control Valve (TCV)] are integrated and made to work together to provide a passive variable thermal link. The...

MIT has been investigating techniques for amplifying movements captured by video, but indiscernible to the human eye. The algorithms can make the human pulse visible and even recover...

INSIDER: Robotics, Automation & Control
Robots Learn to Observe, Adjust Their Force, and React


When robots and humans have to work together, it often leads to problems. Researchers on the CogIMon project want to teach robots to understand the forces during the movement of an...

When modern football helmets were introduced, they all but eliminated traumatic skull fractures caused by blunt force impacts. Mounting evidence, however, suggests...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Lunar Materials Handling System

A method was developed for transfer of lunar soil into and out of process equipment. The Lunar Materials Handling System (LMHS) conveys solids to a process vessel, provides a gas-tight seal, prevents seal contamination, and minimizes wear from abrasive particles. The LMHS increases equipment life and minimizes...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Two-Dimensional Dropped Sensor Suite

There are locations that are either too hazardous to land and gather data, or not practical to land. Also, data may need to be gathered from multiple (tens to hundreds) locations (sometimes at once). This...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Controlling Execution Sequence Using Tactile-Classification During Manipulation by a Humanoid Robot

It is necessary to track system state during robotic manipulation. System state is defined to be manipulator and environment configuration. Without tracking, the robot is ignorant of the outcomes of its actions. State tracking enables the robot to...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Autonomous Guidance Algorithm to Auto-Pilot Spacecraft in the Vicinity of Primitive Celestial Bodies

The dynamics in the vicinity of small bodies are highly nonlinear. Trajectory design in small-body environments requires accurate gravity and solar radiation pressure models to guarantee the satisfaction of spacecraft operational constraints such...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Safe Maritime Autonomous Path Planning in a High Sea State

The goal of this work was to develop algorithms and software to generate a path that takes into account the direction of waves and wind as much as possible in order to mitigate potential damage to an autonomous underwater vehicle. A risk-based path planning algorithm to analyze...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Human Grasp Assist

Repetitive manual operations can degrade the work efficiency of a human operator over time, with the cumulative stresses of repetitive motion potentially affecting the resultant product quality and/or process efficiency. Accordingly, a lightweight, motorized device has been created that a user/operator may wear on a hand and...

Kim Hambuchen is currently building user interfaces for Vakyrie, a six-foot-two, 286-pound humanoid robot. The two-legged Valkyrie...

INSIDER: Robotics, Automation & Control
Tiny Origami Robot Folds Itself Up

MIT researchers have developed a printable origami-inspired robot that, when heated, folds itself up from a flat sheet of plastic. The robot weighs a third of a gram and measures about a centimeter from front to back.

Drones, say goodbye to pilots. With the goal of achieving autonomous flight of these aerial vehicles, researchers developed a vision and learning system to control and navigate them...

INSIDER: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
New Fluid Makes Geothermal Power Cleaner

More American homes could be powered by the Earth's natural underground heat with a new, nontoxic, and potentially recyclable liquid that is expected to use half as much water as other fluids used to...

INSIDER: Electronics & Computers
Smart Tablet Controls Swarms of Robots

Using a tablet and a red beam of light, researchers at Georgia Tech have created a system that controls a fleet of robots with the swipe of a finger. A person taps the tablet to control where the...

What if handheld tools knew what needs to be done and were even able to guide and help inexperienced users to complete jobs that require skill? Researchers at the University of Bristol...

Over the past several years, controls engineers have become adept at applying control systems to machine safety applications. The issue is that safety is a moving target....

Rack and pinions are linear actuators that play a critical role in a wide range of linear motion control applications. While rack and pinions are commonly thought of as a timeless...

Products: Robotics, Automation & Control
Explosion-Proof Encoder

BEI Sensors (Goleta, CA) announced the Model LP35 explosion-proof and flameproof, low-profile, hollow shaft encoder that features a 2.01" profile and is designed to meet UL, ATEX, and IECEx standards for operation...

Products: Robotics, Automation & Control
Drive System Software

Festo (Hauppauge, NY) introduced PositioningDrives software for designing single-axis drive systems. Engineers input application requirements and the software details the information necessary to create a Festo...

Products: Motion Control
Planetary Gearboxes

Pittman Motors (Harleysville, PA) offers the PLG24, PLG42K, PLG42S, PLG52, and PLG63 planetary gearboxes available with Pittman brush and brushless DC motors. The PLG planetary gearboxes deliver high-torque loads and are...

Products: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Rotary Encoder

The Multi Wheel Encoder from Elma Electronic (Fremont, CA) is a miniature rotary encoder that includes an illuminated 8+1 joystick, enabling control using one finger. The encoder features Hall effect sensed incremental encoder...

Products: Robotics, Automation & Control
Digital Load Cell

HBM (Marlborough, MA) introduced the FIT7A digital load cell that enables machines to make up to 180 weighings per minute. The load cell features accuracy class C4 per OIML R60, and a maximum scale interval factor Y of up...

Products: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Tabletop Robot

Universal Robots (Odense, Denmark) introduced the UR3 tabletop robot that weighs 24.3 pounds and has a payload of 6.6 pounds, 360-degree rotation on all wrist joints, and infinite rotation on the end joint. The flexible,...

Products: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Angle Sensors

Novotechnik, U.S. (Southborough, MA) introduced the Vert-X 2400 compact angle sensors that convert rotational angle into a voltage output. The sensors are available in single and fully redundant versions; diameter of the...

Products: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Five-Axis Machining

The VMX30UHSi, VMX42HSRTi, VMX84SWi, VMX60SWi, and VMX60Ui from Hurco (Indianapolis, IN) are 5-axis machines for traditional 3-axis parts with features on all five sides. The VMX42HSRTi has a swivel-head design with a...

Products: Robotics, Automation & Control
Part Gripper

The EGP 25 electric small part gripper from SCHUNK (Morrisville, NC) weighs 110 g and has a stroke of 3 mm per finger. The gripping force can be adjusted on two stages, and maximum gripping force is 40 N. The gripper can handle...

Products: Robotics, Automation & Control
Hydraulic Motors

Dayton Lamina™ (Dayton, OH) offers low-speed/high-torque, high-speed/low-torque hydraulic motors that feature instant forward and reverse. Six motors are available with a torque range from 0 to 656 in-lbs. and speeds from...

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