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 : Motion Control
Motion Control in Factories: Choosing the Right Solution
Motion Control in Factories: Choosing the Right Solution

The need for Ethernet-based communication within the factory has grown over the past 10 years. Detailed information about the tasks and performance of machines at every stage is...

Motion Control in Factories: Choosing the Right Solution
Briefs : Motion Control
Technique Allows Mobile Robots to Navigate Autonomously
Technique Allows Mobile Robots to Navigate Autonomously

A technique was developed to quickly teach robots novel traversal behaviors with minimal human oversight. The technique allows mobile robot platforms to navigate autonomously in...

Technique Allows Mobile Robots to Navigate Autonomously
Articles : Motion Control
Single-Axis Motion Control Systems: Multi-Sourced vs. Single-Sourced
Single-Axis Motion Control Systems: Multi-Sourced vs. Single-Sourced

In today’s fast-paced industrial settings, speed and efficiency are key. Reducing time spent on sourcing, installing, and testing motion control systems can play a big...

Single-Axis Motion Control Systems: Multi-Sourced vs. Single-Sourced
Briefs : Motion Control
Popcorn-Driven Robotic Actuators
Popcorn-Driven Robotic Actuators

When heated, popcorn can expand more than 10 times in size, change its viscosity by a factor of 10, and transition from regular to highly irregular granules with surprising force. These unique qualities can...

Popcorn-Driven Robotic Actuators
Briefs : Motion Control
Robotic Modules Modify Their Environment for Specific Tasks
Robotic Modules Modify Their Environment for Specific Tasks

Given the exact parameters of the task at hand, a robot can assemble a car door or pack a box faster and more efficiently than a human, but such purpose-built machines are not...

Robotic Modules Modify Their Environment for Specific Tasks
Application Briefs : Aerospace
Unique Lift System Enables Installation and Servicing of Large Telescope Mirrors
Unique Lift System Enables Installation and Servicing of Large Telescope Mirrors

The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), under construction atop 8,737-foot El Peñón peak in northern Chile, is a partnership project of the National...

Unique Lift System Enables Installation and Servicing of Large Telescope Mirrors
Products : Motion Control
New Products: October 2018 Motion Design
New Products: October 2018 Motion Design

Multi-Voltage Motors

Simotics SD Pro low-voltage motors from Siemens (Munich, Germany) are suited for mains-fed operation or with a converter for voltages up to 690 volts. There is generally...

New Products: October 2018 Motion Design
Briefs : Materials
Compact, High-Resolution Rotary Position Sensor
Compact, High-Resolution Rotary Position Sensor

It is often desirable to sense the angular position of a rotating part. Numerous kinds of rotation sensors have been developed over the years; one type is a capacitive sensor, where a...

Compact, High-Resolution Rotary Position Sensor
Articles : Green Design & Manufacturing
NASA at 60: 1958-2018 Decades of Discovery
NASA at 60: 1958-2018 Decades of Discovery

For six decades, NASA has led the peaceful exploration of space, making discoveries about our planet, our solar system, and our universe. At home, NASA research has made great advances in aviation,...

NASA at 60: 1958-2018 Decades of Discovery
Articles : Defense
NASA at 60: From Space to Earth
NASA at 60: From Space to Earth

The benefits of NASA's space exploration efforts are not limited to the cosmos. NASA technologies provide innovative solutions for people around the world. NASA missions have generated thousands of spinoffs...

NASA at 60: From Space to Earth
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Engineering Soft Materials that Mimic Neural Tissue
Engineering Soft Materials that Mimic Neural Tissue

A process for engineering next-generation soft materials with embedded chemical networks that mimic the behavior of neural tissue lays the foundation for soft active matter with highly...

Engineering Soft Materials that Mimic Neural Tissue
Articles : Test & Measurement
NASA at 60: Celebrating Success

Over the past 60 years, NASA scientists and engineers have developed many advanced technologies and processes. But NASA has also partnered with industry, using commercially available products to complete its missions. Here, some of those companies join NASA in celebrating these collaborative successes.

Briefs : Aerospace
Insect-Inspired Drone Deforms Upon Impact
Insect-Inspired Drone Deforms Upon Impact

Origami manufacturing has led to considerable advances in the field of foldable structures with innovative applications in robotics, aerospace, and metamaterials; however, existing origami are either...

Insect-Inspired Drone Deforms Upon Impact
Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Hybrid Silicone-Fabric Sensor for Wearable Robots
Hybrid Silicone-Fabric Sensor for Wearable Robots

Wearable technologies are exploding in popularity in both the consumer and research spaces, but most of the electronic sensors that detect and transmit data from wearables are made of hard,...

Hybrid Silicone-Fabric Sensor for Wearable Robots
White Papers : Defense
Using Standard Isolators to Control Unwanted Machine Vibration

From small medical pumps to large diesel engines, vibration is unavoidable. It fatigues and damages equipment over time, increases operating costs and generates unwanted noise. But there are ways to minimize its harmful effects using properly designed isolators and machine...

Blog : Test & Measurement
Meet Lindley Johnson, Planetary Defense Officer (and Asteroid Hunter)
Meet Lindley Johnson, Planetary Defense Officer (and Asteroid Hunter)
NASA's Lindley Johnson explains how the exciting business of asteroid detection does have its moments that are “like any other office job.”
Meet Lindley Johnson, Planetary Defense Officer (and Asteroid Hunter)
INSIDER : Motion Control
Controlling Nanomotors with Light
Controlling Nanomotors with Light

Engineers at The University of Texas at Austin have developed the first method for selecting and switching the mechanical motion of nanomotors among multiple modes with simple visible light as the...

Controlling Nanomotors with Light
White Papers : Test & Measurement
The Importance of Precision and Specifications in Torque Sensors

A torque sensor, also known as a torque meter or a torque transducer, is a device that measures the torque in a rotating system. This white paper examines why accurate torque sensors are critical to the development and testing of products such as motors, compressors, pumps or any...

White Papers : Motion Control
Understand Connector Selection to Avoid Downtime

The right connectors will eliminate downtime on a busy production line. But with the thousands of connectors currently on the market, even experienced engineers can find it difficult to select the right one for the job. This paper explores how you can minimize this connector confusion using four...

Blog : Robotics, Automation & Control
NASA’s Curiosity Rover Finds a New Way to Drill Down
NASA’s Curiosity Rover Finds a New Way to Drill Down
A NASA researcher spoke with Tech Briefs about the importance of the Curiosity rover's latest find on Mars.
NASA’s Curiosity Rover Finds a New Way to Drill Down
News : Test & Measurement
Fleet of Aerial, Surface, and Underwater Robots Map Ocean Front

Using multiple autonomous vehicles simultaneously, an interdisciplinary team of scientists and engineers returns to the U.S. after exploring the North Pacific Subtropical front – a sharp boundary where cold fresh waters from the north meet warm salty waters from the south. The...

Articles : Sensors/Data Acquisition
The Expanding Role of Sensors in the IoT/IIoT
The Expanding Role of Sensors in the IoT/IIoT

The increasing variety of applications for the Internet of Things is driving predictions that the sales volume for sensors will reach 75 billion units by 2025. Applications unforeseen just five...

The Expanding Role of Sensors in the IoT/IIoT
Products : Manufacturing & Prototyping
New Products: September 2018 Sensor Technology
New Products: September 2018 Sensor Technology

Digital Variable Impedance Transducer

With its user-friendly new graphical user interface (GUI) for easier setup and connectivity, and cloud-based data access/monitoring, the digiVIT...

New Products: September 2018 Sensor Technology
Application Briefs : Imaging
Three Popular Machine Vision Standards
Three Popular Machine Vision Standards

Advancements in machine vision have augmented industrial automation and provided a platform to advance imaging-based automatic inspection and analysis applications. This technology, however, comes with...

Three Popular Machine Vision Standards
Application Briefs : Test & Measurement
NASA's Robotic Sniffer Finds Space Station Leak
NASA's Robotic Sniffer Finds Space Station Leak
Stanford Research Systems
Sunnyvale, CA
www.thinksrs.com

The Robotic External Leak Locator (RELL) — a collaboration between NASA's Johnson Space Center and Goddard Space...

NASA's Robotic Sniffer Finds Space Station Leak
Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
3D-Printed Active Materials for Robots
3D-Printed Active Materials for Robots

The Army uses robots that are structurally rigid, making them impractical when performing military operations in highly congested and contested urban environments where covert maneuvering is critical...

3D-Printed Active Materials for Robots
Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
An Artificial Nerve System Developed at Stanford Gives Prosthetic Devices and Robots a Sense of Touch
An Artificial Nerve System Developed at Stanford Gives Prosthetic Devices and Robots a Sense of Touch

Stanford and Seoul National University researchers have developed an artificial sensory nerve system that can activate the twitch reflex in...

An Artificial Nerve System Developed at Stanford Gives Prosthetic Devices and Robots a Sense of Touch
White Papers : Robotics, Automation & Control
A Unique Take on Automotive LiDAR and Technologies Enabling Autonomous Vehicles

LiDAR (light detection and ranging) has proven to be a necessary and important technology enabling the progression of autonomous vehicles, yet there are still many debates and unanswered questions about selecting the right LiDAR concepts. This article will help...

Question of the Week : Robotics, Automation & Control
Will Social Robots Enter the Consumer Market?

In today's lead story, neuroscientist Dr. Philipp Kellmeyer told Tech Briefs:

News : Robotics, Automation & Control
Intelligent Machines: Can You Build a Robot You Can Trust?
Intelligent Machines: Can You Build a Robot You Can Trust?
For social robots to become commonplace in clinical settings, engineers will need to build both technology improvements as well something slightly more complicated: Trust.
Intelligent Machines: Can You Build a Robot You Can Trust?