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 : 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 : Semiconductors & ICs
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
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...

Blog : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
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 : Robotics, Automation & Control
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 : Imaging
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 : Photonics/Optics
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
NASA Spinoff : Automotive
Planet-Navigating AI “Brain” Helps Drones and Cars Avoid Collisions
Planet-Navigating AI “Brain” Helps Drones and Cars Avoid Collisions

Spinoff is NASA's annual publication featuring successfully commercialized NASA technology. This commercialization has contributed to the development of products and...

Planet-Navigating AI “Brain” Helps Drones and Cars Avoid Collisions
Application Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
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 : Manufacturing & Prototyping
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 : Medical
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
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?
White Papers : Robotics, Automation & Control
How to Choose a Servo Controller for Your Application

There are many automation factors that should be considered during the design phase of any new application, including what mechanical and electronic components will be used and how they will work together. You have many options for control: all-in-one controller boxes, integration-ready...

INSIDER : Motion Control
Cageless Bearing Design Reduces Friction
Cageless Bearing Design Reduces Friction

A cageless bearing with rolling separator elements was developed for applications including portable medical devices, toys, and robotic applications with medium force requirements. The normal cageless...

Cageless Bearing Design Reduces Friction
INSIDER : Motion Control
“Actuated” Paper Bends, Folds, or Flattens on Command
“Actuated” Paper Bends, Folds, or Flattens on Command

A thin layer of conducting thermoplastic, applied to common paper with an inexpensive 3D printer or even painted by hand, serves as a low-cost, reversible actuator. When an electrical...

“Actuated” Paper Bends, Folds, or Flattens on Command
Question of the Week : Robotics, Automation & Control
Can Popcorn Power Robots?

In last week's INSIDER, we featured a Q&A with Cornell University researcher Steven Ceron, who is experimenting with a new way — and delicious — way of powering robots: Popcorn.

Blog : Motion Control
How to Power Robots with Popcorn
How to Power Robots with Popcorn

Cornell researchers have discovered a novel – and delicious – way to power simple robots: Popcorn.

How to Power Robots with Popcorn
Blog : Sensors/Data Acquisition
How Soon Will Autonomous Vehicle Fleets Take the Streets?
How Soon Will Autonomous Vehicle Fleets Take the Streets?
Automated vehicles – fleets of them – may soon change the way we travel through cities. "How soon?" asks a reader.
How Soon Will Autonomous Vehicle Fleets Take the Streets?
Articles : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Conical, Floating-Piston Isolation Valve
Conical, Floating-Piston Isolation Valve

A new valve concept consists of a solid piston floating in a medium to control a flowstream. Although the conical shape of the seat is a prominent feature of the valve, especially when the concept was...

Conical, Floating-Piston Isolation Valve
Application Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
High-Speed Reluctance Machine Design
High-Speed Reluctance Machine Design

Silphenix GmbH is an engineering and consulting firm in Switzerland specializing in high-speed electrical machines, magnetic bearings, and electromagnetic field analysis. One project focus is compact...

High-Speed Reluctance Machine Design
Briefs : Motion Control
Fast, Low-Voltage Actuator for Soft and Wearable Robotics
Fast, Low-Voltage Actuator for Soft and Wearable Robotics

The unique capabilities of soft robots are to bend, deform, stretch, twist, or squeeze in all the ways that conventional rigid robots cannot. Today, it is easy to envision a world in...

Fast, Low-Voltage Actuator for Soft and Wearable Robotics
Application Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Drive Technology: The Recipe for Precise Actuator Control
Drive Technology: The Recipe for Precise Actuator Control

Worldwide, there are only a handful of manufacturers of electrical actuators for the process industry, and the Vienna, Austria-based company Schiebel Antriebstechnik GmbH is the...

Drive Technology: The Recipe for Precise Actuator Control
Articles : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Machine Vision Can Do More Than You Think
Machine Vision Can Do More Than You Think

The ability to automatically extract information from digital images opens many doors for manufacturers striving to cut costs, improve quality, and streamline their processes overall. The primary...

Machine Vision Can Do More Than You Think
Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Ultra-Thin Capacitive Sensor Has the Least Possible Resistance to Motion

A thin and flexible sensor was developed for sensing sounds, since it can move with the airflow made by even the softest noises. With the least possible resistance to motion, the sensor addresses issues with accelerometers, microphones, and many other similar sensors. The...

Articles : Manufacturing & Prototyping
IMTS2018 Preview
IMTS2018 Preview

Presented by the Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT), the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) has been the premier manufacturing technology show in the Northern Hemisphere. IMTS is held every even...

IMTS2018 Preview
Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Variable-Camber Compliant Wing
Variable-Camber Compliant Wing

In the early years of manned flight, wing warping was used for lateral control of an aircraft. This technique consisted of a system of pulleys and cables used to twist the trailing edges of the wings in...

Variable-Camber Compliant Wing