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.

A soft hydrogel, driven by an oscillatory chemical reaction, produces an autonomous integrated pump for microfluidic applications.
Articles: Robotics, Automation & Control
Open Controllers Simplify Automation Systems
By consolidating tasks traditionally performed by multiple devices into a single, high-performing controller, manufacturers can improve operations.
Standard commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) connectors continue to be a great resource for quick prototypes and reference designs.
Application Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Custom Gimbal for JHU-APL Shows Promise for Others
See how Blue Joule developed and delivered the Mini Mount (MM) Gimbal to Johns Hopkins University.
Products: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
New Products: October 2020 Motion Design
Accelerometers, actuators, hexapods, and more.
This mini robot improves precision and control of teleoperated surgical procedures.
Articles: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Torque Limiters 101: Benefits, Types, and Comparisons
Torque limiters protect against damage and downtime caused by machine overloads.
Products: Sensors/Data Acquisition
New on the Market: October 2020
Tubing plugs, displacement measurements, CAM software, and more.
Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Optical Neural Network Recognizes Objects Instantly
This technology can work with multiple wavelengths of light simultaneously.
NASA Spinoff: Robotics, Automation & Control
Autonomous Drone Navigation System Ends Reliance on GPS
NASA's UAS traffic management expertise leads to advances in drone navigation.
The learning approach allows swarms of unmanned vehicles to optimally accomplish their mission while minimizing performance uncertainty.
Articles: Robotics, Automation & Control
Simple Robot Vision Tools Support Complex Applications
New collaborative robot-based vision systems are changing how manufacturers can inspect their parts.
Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Nanocardboard Aircraft with No Moving Parts
Tiny aircraft that weigh as much as a fruit fly could serve as Martian atmospheric probes.
Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Wavy Surfaces for Better Light Control
This method could impact optical technologies such as smartphone cameras, biosensors, or autonomous vision for robots and self-driving cars.
This capability will optimize performance of the vehicle through different phases of flight.
Special Reports: Defense
Aerospace & Defense - October 2020

In this compendium of recent articles from the editors of Tech Briefs and Aerospace & Defense Technology, you'll learn about NASA's return to the moon with Apollo's twin sister Artemis, how autonomous...

Briefs: Semiconductors & ICs
Integrated Microchips for Electronic Skin
Fully integrated flexible electronics made of magnetic sensors and organic circuits open the path towards the development of electronic skin.
Special Reports: Robotics, Automation & Control
Medical Manufacturing and Outsourcing - October 2020

Discover how advances in factory automation, robotics, 3D printing and other fabrication technologies are shaping the future of medical device manufacturing in this Special Report – a...

Researchers at the University of Houston report that they have designed and produced a smart electronic skin and a medical robotic hand capable of assessing vital diagnostic...

INSIDER: Robotics, Automation & Control
Controller Helps Robots Avoid Collisions

MIT startup Realtime Robotics invented a solution that gives robots the ability to quickly adjust their path to avoid objects as they move to a target. The Realtime controller can be connected to...

INSIDER: Motion Control
Precision Landing Without a Pilot

For planned robotic and crewed missions to the Moon and Mars, NASA is developing and testing precise landing and hazard-avoidance technologies. A combination of laser sensors, a camera, a high-speed...

New software from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) wants to predict all traffic possibilities, so that self-driving vehicles will never get into accidents.

Experts predict that by 2040, most forms of transportation will leverage electric motors and/or cleaner sources of fuel to meet heightened emissions standards....

Question of the Week: Robotics, Automation & Control
Will 'Biomorphic' Batteries Support a Future of Tiny Robots?

A Tech Briefs TV video highlighted a rechargeable zinc battery from the University of Michigan that integrates into the structure of a robot to provide much more energy. The “biomorphic” battery, according to researchers, could provide 72x more energy for robots.

Like biological fat reserves store energy in animals, a new rechargeable zinc battery integrates into the structure of a robot to provide much more energy, a team led by...

Question of the Week: Robotics, Automation & Control
Are You OK With a Robot Taking Your Vitals?

The "Spot" robot, developed by Boston Dynamics, can measure skin temperature, breathing rate, pulse rate, and blood oxygen saturation in healthy patients, from a distance of 2 meters.

White Papers: Transportation
Achieve Alternative Fuel ROI in Less Than Five Years with ANG

Learn how adsorbed natural gas (ANG) can bring operational benefits for your fleet and pay for itself in less than five years. ANG is specifically suited to light-duty fleets and...

Blog: Robotics, Automation & Control
With a Flash of a Laser, Microscopic Robots Move
A Cornell team developed paramecium-sized robots that can be controlled with lasers.
White Papers: Motion Control
Kit Encoders: New Technologies for a Dynamically Changing Market

Closed-loop motion control systems use feedback to ensure the precise positioning of mechanical components. Self-contained position sensors, such as rotary encoders, can do a...

Videos