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.

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
High-Precision Encoders for GEO Space Applications

High-precision encoders are used by earth observation instruments and in mechanisms for laser communication terminals (LCTs). A micro-radian resolution encoder for the LCT was designed for precision pointing applications, especially in geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO) environments with a 15-year...

Articles : Robotics, Automation & Control
2013 Create the Future Design: Machinery & Equipment Category Winner

Fuel Flexible, Ultra-Portable Microturbine Generator

Erik Herold, Jason Ethier, and Ivan Wang
Dynamo Micropower,
Boston, MA

A large unmet need in the oil and gas industry is a portable power generation system that is reliable, requires little...

Articles : Robotics, Automation & Control
2013 Create the Future Design Contest

The 2013 Create the Future Design Contest — sponsored by COMSOL, SAE International, and Tech Briefs Media Group (publishers of NASA Tech Briefs) — recognized innovation in product design in eight categories: Aerospace & Defense (new this year), Consumer Products, Electronics, Machinery &...

Application Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Vision-Based Robot Design Wins NASA Test Course Challenge

As part of a NASA test course challenge, Teledyne DALSA engineered a winning Miniature Autonomous Roving Vehicle (MARV), earning the company a $350M contract with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama.

Features : Propulsion
Robotic Exoskeleton Vastly Improves Quality of Life
Robotic Exoskeleton Vastly Improves Quality of Life

Worldwide an estimated 185 million people use a wheelchair daily. A company based in Auckland, New Zealand, has developed an innovative robotic technology that helps people with mobility...

Robotic Exoskeleton Vastly Improves Quality of Life
Articles : Robotics, Automation & Control
Feedback Sensors Keep Servomotors on Target

Fundamentally, a servo system can perform no more accurately than the accuracy of the feedback device controlling it. In addition, errors in speed or position can be introduced into the system by the less-than-perfect mechanisms that transfer the motor power to the load. Environmental factors like...

Application Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Handling Delicate Materials

Special care needs to be taken when handling delicate materials used in medical applications. Small diameters provide increased flexibility needed for long-flex-life applications such as cardiac catheter wires. Many other applications also use these fine materials as winding and braiding materials, including the...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control

The i-series planetary gearboxes from Groschopp (Sioux Center, IA) are available with AC, PMDC, and brushless motors, and are made of cast aluminum. They are offered with up to three stages of steel cut or optional plastic gears, suitable for both leftand right-hand rotation running, in continuous and intermittent duty operation. The...

Products : Motion Control
Machine Design Software

CD-adapco (Melville, NY) offers two connected simulation programs, SPEED and STAR-CCM+, for machine design. The SPEED tool is used to design motors, generators, and alternators; STAR-CCM+ is a heat transfer and thermal fluid flow program. Design data is seamlessly transferred between the two programs. The SPEED model is...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Electric Actuators

Warner Linear (Belvidere, IL) has announced the ITrack linear actuators for light- and medium-duty applications where parallel motor type actuators won’t fit in limited space requirements. The actuators feature a release clutch that allows the actuator rod to float when power is off. When the clutch is disengaged, much less...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Torque Control Hinges

Reell Precision Manufacturing (St. Paul, MN) offers the TI-100 and TI-200 Series torque control hinges that provide pivoting capabilities without the standard appearance of conventional hinges. Depending on model, the torque inserts press-fit into a variety of materials via a keyed cavity, or can be plastic over-molded....

Products : Motion Control

Applimotion (Loomis, CA) has introduced custom gearmotors for high-torque, low-speed, and low-profile applications. The assemblies combine gearing and direct drive frameless motor kits. The ULT, UTH, and UTS low-profile frameless motors are combined with the appropriate gearing solution. Custom gearmotor assemblies range in size from...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Stepper Motor Driver

Lin Engineering (Morgan Hill, CA) offers the R1025 stepper motor driver that can be used with stepper motors ranging from NEMA 8 to NEMA 42. The driver is capable of output currents ranging from 0.8 to 10 amps peak while handling 12 to 80VDC of input voltage. With selectable step resolutions from full stepping to 256x...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
DC Compressor

Designed for air seats, light-duty air suspension, and other mobile applications, the Thomas 135 Series DC WOB-L® compressor from Thomas Division, a Gardner Denver Company (Sheboygan, WI), is a compact, lightweight intermittent-duty pump. The compressor is 1.16 pounds and 3.6 × 1.66 × 4.34". Avail able in 12V or 24V, the...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
DC Accelerometer

Measurement Specialties (Hampton, VA) has introduced a rugged, triaxial DC accelerometer for steady-state, low-g vibration measurements and high-g transient shock measurements. The piezoresistive, MEMSbased Model 3803A provides triaxial measurement under harsh operating conditions. Hermetically sealed in a welded, stainless...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control

Heidenhain Corp. (Schaumburg, IL) offers the Leine & Linde DRIVE-CLiQ encoder platform for operation in harsh drive environments where they are exposed to vibration, shock, and mechanical loads. The encoder can be installed to the motor mechanics typically found in heavy-duty applications without any adaptation needed. DRIVE-CLiQ is...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Torque Transducers

HBM (Marlborough, MA) offers the T40B and T40FM torque transducers that include an integrated speed measurement system. They are designed to work in harsh environments such as those that contain humidity, condensation, dust, oil, and grease. The transducers take measurements based on the contactless sensing of an anisotropic...

Products : Motion Control
Linear Actuators

Zero-Max (Plymouth, MN) offers Roh’lix® linear actuators made from stainless steel for use where cleanliness is a priority. Used to convert rotary motion to linear travel, the actuators carry loads at speeds up to 70 inches per second, depending on size. Stainless steel components make the actuators suitable for food, drug,...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Linear Motor Stages

The PlanarDL-series stages from Aerotech (Pittsburgh, PA) are available in nine different travel and performance configuration applications ranging from high-accuracy surface profilometry to high-speed semiconductor and LED wafer scribing. The PlanarDL XY design allows for use in applications where straightness and flatness...

Articles : Aerospace
Mars 2020: The Next Journey

Building on the success of Curiosity’s landing, NASA has announced plans for the next robotic science rover, which is set to launch in 2020. The proposed 2020 rover mission is part of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, a long-term effort of robotic exploration of the red planet. The mission would address key...

News : Robotics, Automation & Control
Station Astronauts Remotely Control Planetary Rover From Space

Just as remotely operated vehicles help humans explore the depths of the ocean from above, NASA has begun studying how a similar approach may one day help astronauts explore other worlds. NASA tested the Surface Telerobotics exploration concept, in which an astronaut in an orbiting...

Articles : Robotics, Automation & Control
Real-Time Software Enables Multi-Core PCs for Industrial Automation

As early as 25 years ago, industrial system integrators saw the great potential that the Windows operating system brought to PCs. They saw the possibility of using the advanced graphic capabilities that Windows offered versus the relatively primitive human interfaces of...

Application Briefs : Motion Control
Couplings Synchronize Motion in Pipe Bending System

Pines Technology’s (Westlake, OH) Model 250 Heavy Duty CNC bender is a powerful automatic precision system for fast, repeatable bending of tube and pipe up to 10" in diameter. Providing fast setup and changeover advantages, this giant bender has an advanced level of programming to deliver...

Articles : Motion Control
Using Source Measure Units to Characterize High-Power Semiconductors (Part 1)

The proliferation of electronic control and electronic power conversion into a variety of industries (e.g., energy generation, industrial motor drives and control, transportation, and IT) has made efficient power semiconductor device design and test more critical than...

Products : Motion Control
Instrumentation Valves

Brennan Industries (Cleveland, OH) offers a line of compression-end instrumentation valves available with single or double ferrule-style tube fittings. The NVB Series ball valves range in size from 1/8" to 3⁄4 " and are available in either 316 stainless steel or brass construction. These valves can have two- or three-way...

Products : Motion Control
Linear Actuators

Exlar, a business group of Curtiss-Wright Controls (Chanhassen, MN), offers the K Series™ linear actuators with a 75-mm frame size. They combine roller screw technology in varying performance levels, and allow the use of third-party motors. Along with 60-mm and 90-mm frame sizes, the actuators feature dimensions and...

Products : Motion Control
Motor Controller

Fairchild Semiconductor (San Jose, CA) has released the FCM8531 analog and digital integrated motor controller. The 3-phase, hybrid BLDC/PMSM controller offers two parallel processors — an advanced motor controller (AMC) and an embedded microcontroller (MCU) — that provide a one-chip solution for complex motor control...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
DC Brushed Motor

The RE 30 EB precious metal brushed motor from maxon precision motors (Fall River, MA) features a low startup voltage and a rated torque of 53 mNm. Other features include minimal highfrequency interference, ironless windings, and precious metal brushes. The motor is designed for haptic applications such as surgical robots. The...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Drive Module

ACS Motion Con - trol (Eden Prairie, MN) offers SPiiPlusUDMlc compact EtherCAT dual/quad-axis drive for equipment utilizing small motors such as pick/place machines, tabletop motion platforms, and wide-format inspection/ assembly equipment. The universal drives can run servo, stepper, and voice coil motors with a power range of 10W...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Axis Calibrator

The XR20-W calibration system from Renishaw (Hoffman Estates, IL) wirelessly measures the an gular position of rotary axes to within ±1 arc second for testing the accuracy of lathes, multi-axis ma chine tools, mill-turn machines, trunnion tables, and spindles. It works in conjunction with XL-80 or ML10 laser interferometers, and...