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 : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Magnetostrictive Inertial-Reaction Linear Motors

Linear-translation motors containing inertial-reaction masses driven by magnetostrictive actuator elements are undergoing development. These motors could be used to make fine position adjustments in diverse scientific and industrial instruments that operate at temperatures ranging from near...

Briefs : Motion Control
Device for High-Pressure Fused Deposition of Engineering Polymers From Feed Rods

A more versatile delivery system for fused deposition has recently been developed. This system uses a very stiff, precise, and compact actuator to drive a small piston/cylinder extruder that has a heated nozzle. Because feed rods are used as the feed material, this...

Briefs : Motion Control
Earthwormlike Exploratory Robots

Mobile robots that would resemble earthworms have been proposed for use in exploring remote, hostile, or inaccessible terrain surface and subsurface environments. This class of robots would be a special case of a more general class of proposed small, lightweight, relatively inexpensive exploratory robots....

Briefs : Motion Control
Miniature Multispeed Transmissions for Small Motors

A design has been developed for manufacturing multispeed transmissions that are small enough to be used with minimotors - electromagnetic motors with power ratings of less than 1 W. Like similar, larger systems, such as those in automobiles, the proposed mechanism could be used to satisfy a...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Navigation and Control of Continuous Mining Systems

Research conducted at the Pittsburgh Research Center (formerly U.S. Bureau of Mines) developed technology that will allow computer-assisted operation of mechanized equipment normally used in underground room-and-pillar coal mining, while permitting workers to be located away from the hazardous...

Briefs : Motion Control
Hydraulically Driven High-Speed Spindle for General Machining

A hydraulically driven high-speed spindle system for milling, machining, facing, drilling, and joining metallic and nonmetallic materials has been developed. Spindles are the most critical elements of high-speed milling machines. The keys to successful design of high-speed spindles...

Briefs : Motion Control
A Technique For Compensating Joint Limits in a Robot Manipulator

A robust, optimal, adaptive technique for compensating rate and position limits in the joints of a six-degree-of-freedom manipulator has been developed. In this new algorithm, the unmet demand as a result of actuator saturation is redistributed among the remaining unsaturated...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Hybrid Propulsion System for Returning a Sample From Mars

A paper suggests the development of a hybrid rocket engine and associated equipment for returning a sample of material from Mars at relatively low cost. In a hybrid rocket engine, a solid fuel is burned by use of a liquid or gaseous oxidizer, the flow of which can be throttled to control...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Improved Hybrid System Protects Airfoils Against Icing

An improved hybrid thermal/mechanical system has been developed to protect airplane wings and other airfoils against the accretion of ice, which degrades aerodynamic performance. The system is designed with particular attention to advanced, high-performance airfoils, which exhibit...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Evaluation of a "Smart" Aircraft Control Actuator

An aircraft control actuator that incorporates self-contained control electronics has been installed in the F-18 Systems Research Aircraft and evaluated in flight tests. This "smart" actuator is a prototype of fly-by-wire servoactuators for future advanced aircraft.

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Electromagnetic Shaker for Flight Flutter Testing

An electromagnetic shaker based on a linear induction motor has been developed for use in flight flutter testing of aircraft. The shaker is a wing-tip-mounted unit capable of delivering root-mean-square forces as large as 140 lb (623 N) at frequencies from 10 to 60 Hz.

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Micromachined Monopropellant Thrusters

A report proposes monopropellant microthrusters for a new generation of miniature spacecraft with mission lifetimes stretching into years. These thrusters would include micromachined nozzle/chamber assemblies containing microvalves, designed according to emerging concepts of microelectromechanical systems...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Making Fuels Onboard for Power Bursts in Exploratory Robots

In-situ resource utilization (ISRU) equipment would be incorporated into remotely controlled exploratory robots, according to a proposal, to generate fuels and oxidizers to extend operational ranges and to provide occasional bursts of power for actions like drilling into the ground,...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Solar-Powered Aerobots With Power-Surge Capabilities

Advanced aerobots that would be powered by solar photovoltaic batteries and that would be capable of storing energy for occasional operation during short intervals at power levels far beyond those of the photovoltaic batteries have been proposed. Aerobots are robotic balloon-buoyed airborne...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Development of Small, Mobile, Special-Purpose Robots

A report presents a scenario for the proposed development of insectlike robots that would be equipped with microsensors and/or micromanipulators, and would be designed, variously, to crawl, burrow, swim, fly, or hop, to perform specific tasks in fields as diverse as exploration,...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Adaptive Performance Optimization of Transport Aircraft

Adaptive performance optimization (APO) is an approach for improving aircraft performance without the need for extensive modifications of hardware. In this approach, one exploits existing redundant control-effector capabilities by providing for automatic reconfiguration of control-surface...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Using a Jet Pump To Alter the Inlet Swirl of a Turbopump

An analysis of empirical data on low-frequency oscillations in the inlet flow of a turbopump has led to the conclusion that these oscillations could be reduced or eliminated with suitable design of a jet pump to alter the inlet swirl. The oscillations in question are of fluid-dynamic...

Briefs : Motion Control
Antiovershoot Position Control for Motors Run at Full Speed

An improved motor controller provides a circuit that will allow a motor to run at full speed while traveling from point A to point B, and still be able to obtain the desired damping coefficient when reaching point B. Previously, a motor would overshoot its desired stopping point when...

Briefs : Motion Control
Precision Actuator Positions Laser Grating

The tunable external cavity diode laser is an important new tool used to evaluate and test the latest fiber-optic components and building blocks of modern telecommunications systems. A key factor enabling operation of this type of laser is the ability to angle-tune the wavelength-dependent key component...

Briefs : Physical Sciences
Protecting a Micromachined Accelerometer During Handling

A highly sensitive micromachined accelerometer that is intended to be exposed to very small accelerations during operation incorporates features for protection against much larger accelerations during handling and transport. More specifically, the accelerometer is designed to measure...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Multimedia Operator Interface for a Health-Care Robot

An operator interface is undergoing development along with other subsystems of a robot that would assist in caring for elderly and disabled patients. This development has been initiated in anticipation of an increasing need for long-term care, in both home and hospital environments, with...

Briefs : Motion Control
All-Terrain Vehicle With Self-Righting and Pose Control

A small prototype robotic all-terrain vehicle features a unique drive and suspension system that affords capabilities for self righting, pose control, and enhanced maneuverability for passing over obstacles. The vehicle is designed for exploration of planets and asteroids, and could just...

Briefs : Motion Control
Passive Magnetic Bearings With Ferrofluid Stabilization

Permanent-magnet rotary bearings with ferrofluid stabilization in the axial degree of freedom are undergoing development. These bearings are totally passive, yet stable in all degrees of freedom. In contrast, previously developed electromagnet and permanent-magnet bearings all exhibit...

Briefs : Motion Control
Large Gimbal Mount Enables Focal-Plane Testing

The latest missile guidance and tracking guidance systems deliver unprecedented performance, in terms of range, precision, and the ability to function in very unfavorable atmospheric conditions. These systems rely on a new generation of high-resolution, multifunction focal plane arrays to image...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Manipulator System for a Robotic Vehicle

A prototype manipulator system that includes two different arms has been tentatively selected for use on a semiautonomous robotic vehicle called Rocky 7 (see figure). [A previous version of this vehicle with a single manipulator arm was described in "High-Performance Robotic Vehicle" (NPO-19921) NASA Tech...


Upcoming Webinars: Software

Using Simulation to Design Robust Adhesively Bonded Structures

Upcoming Webinars: Automotive

Electric-Vehicle Transmission Development and Simulation

Upcoming Webinars: Energy

Thermal Management Crisis: Knowing Your Passive Solution Options

Upcoming Webinars: Internet of Things

IoT’s Role in Today’s Transportation Systems

Dynamic White Papers: Mechanical & Fluid Systems

Precision Bellows Couplings: 3 Secrets to their Success

On-Demand Webinars: Manufacturing & Prototyping

Testing and Inspecting 3D-Printed Parts