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.

Tech Briefs spoke with NASA’s Keith Comeaux, Deputy Project Chief Engineer, to learn more about the helicopter heading to Mars.
Rensselaer Engineering focuses on solving the “grand challenges” facing humanity.
Articles: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Mars 2020 – Looking for Life
Tech Briefs spoke with NASA’s Ken Williford, Mars 2020 Deputy Project Scientist, to learn more about the science capabilities of Perseverance.
Articles: Robotics, Automation & Control
Mars 2020 – Getting to Mars
Perseverance will have the ability to land in more challenging terrain than Curiosity, making more rugged sites eligible as safe landing candidates.
Q&A: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Q&A: Tactile Robot Finger with No Blind Spots
A robotic finger has a sense of touch that can be localized with high precision over a large, multi-curved surface.
Articles: Test & Measurement
Mars 2020 – The Science of Mars 2020
Learn about the four goals of the Mars 2020 mission.
Read our special series on the Mars 2020 mission, featuring interviews with NASA experts and designers of the Perseverance rover.
Special Reports: Sensors/Data Acquisition
ADAS/Connected Car - June 2020

Today's Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and connected cars are paving the way for tomorrow's automated vehicles. To help you keep pace with the latest technology developments, we present this...

Special Reports: Photonics/Optics
Advances in Optics - June 2020

From Automotive LiDAR to Cubesats & space communications to smart cameras for robots, optics technology is enabling exciting new applications across a range of industries. Read all about it in this Special...

Application Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Battlefield Navigation with MEMS
Soldiers tend to dodge, dive, duck, and run, creating motion measurement challenges.
INSIDER: Robotics, Automation & Control
Mini Rover Pedals Out of Trouble

The next generation of exploration rovers will need to be good at climbing hills covered with loose material and avoiding entrapment on soft granular surfaces. Built with wheeled appendages that can be...

New software sets the stage for A.I.-enabled robotic prostheses that predict user terrain and initiate mechanical changes accordingly.
White Papers: Medical
Compact, Smooth, Repeatable Accuracy: NSK Motorized Ball Screw Actuator

NSK’s MBSA series combines a precision-ground ball screw with an ultra-accurate stepping motor. It’s the ideal integrated solution for medical devices and laboratory...

Question of the Week: Robotics, Automation & Control
Will Soft Robots Reach Cheetah-Like Speeds?

Our lead INSIDER story today featured a proof-of-concept robot that moves at almost 3 body lengths a second.

A proof-of-concept soft robot has a cheetah-like gait that avoids the usual crawl.
The technique could be used to improve navigation for robots, drones, or pedestrians.
Xilinx is now applying AI to the in-cabin environment.
Briefs: Test & Measurement
Radiation-Hardened Gain Digitizer
This instrument has applications in medical equipment, robotics, and satellites.
The domino effect is used to design deployable systems that expand quickly with a small push and are stable and locked into place after deployment.

The last thing you probably do when a fly buzzes toward you is marvel at its graceful wing and body kinematics. But that’s exactly what researchers at Cornell University’s Itai Cohen Group...

Special Reports: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Medical Manufacturing and Outsourcing - May 2020

How are advances in automation/robotics, welding, 3D printing, and other fabrication technologies shaping the future of medical device manufacturing? Find out in this Special Report – a...

On-Demand Webinars: Robotics, Automation & Control
Collaborative Robots: Are They as Safe as They Sound?

Collaborative robots are the fastest growing segment in industrial robotics – for good reason. They’re flexible, easy to program, and when compared to their “older generation” industrial counterparts, far safer and less expensive, as well as faster to deploy. But those who use...

By taking a closer look at the delta deposits on Mars, Stanford University researchers concluded that the Jezero Crater is still the best place to search for signs of life on Mars.
On-Demand Webinars: Motion Control
Advantages of Smart Servo Steppers vs. Smart Brushless Servos

For years the difference between brushless servos and step motors was understood. That has all been blurred with servo vector control of step motors and the growing popularity of smart motors. Understanding these technologies is key to selecting the best product for specific...

Question of the Week: Transportation
Will 'Metal-Air Scavengers' Power Vehicles and Robots?

Penn Engineering researchers have introduced a "metal-air scavenger" vehicle, which gets energy not from a battery, but from breaking chemical bonds in the aluminum surface it travels over. The technology, which works like both a battery and an energy harvester, has 13 times more energy...

In just three weeks, the Innovative Genomics Institute (IGI) at UC Berkeley built a robotic COVID-19 laboratory.

INSIDER: Robotics, Automation & Control
Foldable Robots for Future Moon Mission

The newest edition of NASA's small, foldable robots successfully traversed rugged terrain in the Mars Yard at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.

Robots are in high demand as medical professionals seek hands-free ways to disinfect environments and contain the spread of coronavirus and COVID-19.

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Algorithm Helps Swarming Robots Avoid Collisions
This technology could help control driverless cars and automated warehouses.

Videos