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.

Articles : Robotics, Automation & Control
Machine Vision Fundamentals: How to Make Robots ‘See’
Machine Vision Fundamentals: How to Make Robots ‘See’

Machine vision combines a range of technologies to provide useful outputs from the acquisition and analysis of images. Used primarily for inspection and robot guidance, the process...

Machine Vision Fundamentals: How to Make Robots ‘See’
Articles : Robotics, Automation & Control
Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), a division of the California Institute of Technology, is a Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) of NASA. The Laboratory has a wide-ranging charter for solar system exploration, Earth observation, astrophysical research, and technology development. It is located on 176...

Articles : Motion Control
Motion Control Requirements for Medical Instruments

Medical equipment motion control runs the gamut from electric wheelchair motion to heart assist pumps. This article will focus on the segment consisting of medical laboratory instruments. Even in this segment, motion control ranges from precision liquid handling and dispensing, to sample-...

Application Briefs : Motion Control
Motors Keep Telescope Operating in Record-Low Antarctic Temperatures

At Concordia Station in Antarctica, there is a telescope mount that has been operating for a few years. Recently, there was a new record temperature at the Dome C site: -84.6 °C, or -199 °F. Not many things operate well in such conditions, but the telescope mount — which...

Application Briefs : Motion Control
Robots and Vision Combine for Accurate Sheet Metal Cutting

In the general construction industry, many different parts are cut from sheet metal and then welded together on a large machine or vehicle. The trouble arises when the sheets are placed on the cutting table; the larger and heavier they are, the more difficult they are to position on the...

Application Briefs : Motion Control
Crew Test Module Provides Launch Escape System

New Shepard rocket-propelled vehicle

Blue Origin
Kent, WA
253-872-0411 www.blueorigin.com

Blue Origin has received funding from NASA’s Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) initiative to develop a composite crew test module and a launch escape system for its commercial...

Articles : Motion Control
Synchronizing Hydraulic Axes in a Pultrusion Machine

Many hydraulically operated machines perform adequately with on/off “bang-bang” valves, but some need special controls to avoid maintenance problems and deliver quality production output. This is particularly true when multiple hydraulic axes need to be synchronized. In these cases,...

Application Briefs : Motion Control
Removing Digestive Tumors With a Therapeutic Endoscopy Teleoperation Robot

Endo Tools Therapeutics (ETT) is a medical device company based in Brussels, Belgium that was established in 2008. The company was formed after an innovative research project started in 2004 at Erasme Hospital (Université Libre de Bruxelles) and the faculty of...

Articles : Motion Control
Electromobility Drives Green Vehicles

Environmental friendliness, economy, and individuality are the fundamental ideas associated with the topic of eMobility (electromobility). The increasing scarcity of resources and constantly rising prices are being felt by everyone, as will be the follow-up costs if we don’t succeed in reducing...

Application Briefs : Motion Control
Motion Components Optimize Performance of Liquid Chromatography System

Pricing pressures, intense competition, and strict regulatory demands are challenging scientists and researchers in the fast-growing, highly-regulated pharmaceutical, life science, biochemical, industrial, and environmental industries to make important breakthroughs faster...

Articles : Robotics, Automation & Control
Machine Vision Aids Earthquake Retrofit Studies

As recent events in Haiti and Argentina have highlighted, many urban buildings in seismically active regions worldwide are in need of reinforcement to resist earthquake damage. One challenge facing earthquake retrofit activities is finding a balance between the cost and the effectiveness of the...

Articles : Motion Control
Closed System Technology Drives the Trend Toward Safer Dispensing of High-Purity Chemicals

In dozens of industries and in millions of applications around the world, dangerous chemicals are transferred from their original shipping containers into smaller jugs or buckets, or applied to other end-use processes. Historically, the predominant...

Application Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Robotic 3D Scanner Automatically Scans Spacecraft Heat Shields
Adept Viper 850 robot arm
Adept Technology
Pleasanton, CA
925-245-3400
www.adept.com

NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, CA, performs research and technology in aeronautics, spaceflight, and information technology in a 3D vision lab. Using...

Articles : Motion Control
Controlling Robotics Precisely With Haptic Technology

Robots are capable of very precise motion, but must be guided with precision in order to fulfill their potential. Consider the task of guiding a robotic surgeon’s arm to suture a wound or insert a catheter. A human surgeon, with all his or her knowledge and experience, is required to...

Application Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Control System Safely Moves a Robot During Invasive Neurosurgery

Robotic devices have been used in the medical industry for more than 40 years. Despite the advantages, researchers have faced unique challenges in developing effective, safe robotics applications for medical use. In contrast with industrial applications in which robots operate in...

Application Briefs : Motion Control
Vibration Isolators Supplied for James Webb Telescope Testing
Vibration isolators
Minus K® Technology
Inglewood, CA
310-348-9656
www.minusk.com

Minus K Technology was chosen by ITT Space Systems, LLC, a subcontractor to Northrop Grumman Corp., to provide vibration isolators for the ground testing of the James...

Articles : Motion Control
Advances in Magnetic Bearings

In this age of environmental consciousness, OEMs around the world are competing to build better, safer, and greener machines. In striving toward such lofty goals, many industries are rediscovering a fundamental principle — magnetics. Magnetic bearings improve reliability, reduce friction, minimize vibration, and...

Application Briefs : Motion Control
Electro-Hydraulic Motion Controller for Earthquake Simulation

How do you test the behavior of different soil structures in an earthquake? Obviously, large earthquakes don’t happen often, and they certainly don’t happen on cue. The solution, of course, is to model earthquakes in a laboratory environment. And that’s exactly what is being...

Articles : Robotics, Automation & Control
Teleoperation of Unmanned Vehicles Using Immersive Telepresence

In order to extend the usefulness of small, unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) to a wider range of missions, techniques are being developed to enable high-speed teleoperated control. Our goal is to quadruple the speed of teleoperated UGVs compared to currently deployed models. The key...

Application Briefs : Imaging
Camera/Robot System Increases Quality and Reduces Costs for Vehicle Component Supplier

The Piston Group (Redford, MI and Liberty, MO) builds cooling modules for seven different vehicles. These cooling modules are built on five different assembly lines, with each line building more than 50 different variants in sequence to the customer’s...

Articles : Energy
Innovative Waste Heat Recovery Systems and Improvements with Advanced Turbomachinery

The increasing cost of fuel and U.S. dependency on foreign fuel supplies has renewed interest in conserving energy and in generating electric power using otherwise wasted heat energy from prime mover processes. Such power generation systems are typically based...

Articles : Robotics, Automation & Control
Centennial Challenges: NASA’s Prize Program for the “Citizen Inventor”

The Centennial Challenges are NASA’s prizes for the citizen inventor. Through open competitions, we seek novel solutions from diverse sources in technology challenges of interest to NASA and the nation. Competitions are open to anyone, and teams have included small...

Articles : Motion Control
Reducing Electromagnetic Interference in Motion Systems

EMI (Electromagnetic Interference) comes in different forms, frequencies, and levels. Electronic equipment has different categories for both emissions and susceptibility. Under normal circumstances, elimination is not possible so reduction to acceptable levels is what can be reasonably...

Articles : Robotics, Automation & Control
Choosing the Right Touchscreen Display Technology for Your Control/Automation Process

From industrial panel PCs, to open-platform graphic operator interface terminals (OITs), to microOITs, to human-machine interfaces (HMIs), there are many choices of interactive display technologies for manufacturing and process control. It can be a challenge to...

Application Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
High-Flex Cable Assembly to Aid Robot Arm in Mars Exploration Program
High-Flex
Cables Cicoil Corp.
Valencia, CA 661-295-1295
www.cicoil.com

Cicoil has provided a custom-formed high-flex cable to the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), scheduled to launch in 2011 as part of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program. The program is...

Articles : Motion Control
Benefits of Magnetostrictive Sensors for Industrial Applications

Modern industrial machines rely on fast, accurate motion control in order to achieve high product quality and productivity, as measurement errors can lead to increased scrap and production downtime. However, these and other costly headaches can be avoided by choosing the proper...

Articles : Motion Control
Roller Pinion Technology Allows High Positional Accuracy for Precision Applications

Increasingly competitive markets make efficient and accurate processes more critical than ever before. To meet the demands of manufacturers, machine builders are constantly searching for new methods to design faster, more precise, and longer-lasting systems that...

Articles : Motion Control
All Motors are Stepping Motors

In 1938, General Electric began producing a two-phase synchronous induction motor which, at 60 Hz, ran at 75 RPM. The low speed resulted from using a different number of rotors to stator poles or teeth, which made the motor a good bi-directional control motor. This motor was used by Superior Electric Company of...

Articles : Motion Control
Intelligent Control Increases Motion System ROI

The economic realities of the industrial marketplace are driving machine builders and integrators to get creative and build more intelligence into their machines in order to increase productivity and lower lifecycle cost. This is done by minimizing time to communicate with the motion controller,...

Application Briefs : Motion Control
Connector Improves Reliability, Cuts Cost on Engine Production Line

HARTING North America was recently asked to solve some of the problems associated with power distribution and motion control on a vehicle manufacturer’s long conveyor and engine block production line. The line’s system integrator needed to reduce installation costs to be...