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.

News : Robotics, Automation & Control
Machine-Learning System Recognizes Sounds from Video

A machine learning system from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) recognizes sounds by watching video. The neural network interprets natural sounds in terms of image categories, without hand-annotated training data.

Articles : Aerospace
Choosing Stepper- or Servo-Driven Actuators to Replace Air Cylinders

Advantages of Electric Linear Actuators

Reduced downtime. Electric linear actuators (whether screw- or belt-driven) are very low-maintenance. Regreasing may be the only regular maintenance necessary, and many screw-driven models are lubricated for the life of the...

Application Briefs : Motion Control
Custom Machines Create Engine Lip Skins on Boeing Aircraft

MJC Engineering, a custom machine tool builder in Huntington Beach, CA, specializes in metal-spinning machines for such applications as sheet spinning, flow forming, wheel spinning, and rotary forging. The company was commissioned to build a series of metal-spinning machines for GKN for...

Products : Motion Control
Linear Motor

The LinX® linear motor from Anca Motion USA (Wixom, MI) delivers a continuous force from 333 N to 665 N, and peak force from 2136 N to 4272 N. It features a cylindrical design with a thermal barrier that helps separate and remove heat from the motor. The motor’s zero net attractive forces eliminate the downforce associated with...

Products : Photonics/Optics
Optical Encoders

MICROMO (Clearwater, FL) announced the FAULHABER high-precision IER3 and IERS3 optical encoders. Both encoders deliver two-channel quadrature signals and an additional index signal. They can position a FAULHABER micro DC motor or brushless DC servomotor with a typical accuracy of 0.1° to 0.3°. The encoders combine the LED,...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Automatic Multi-Pallet Changer

Midaco Corp. (Elk Grove Village, IL) offers an automatic multi-pallet changer for 5-axis and standard vertical machining centers (VMCs). It can load and unload 19 aluminum pallets, one at a time, on any new or existing machine. The servo-driven automatic multipallet changer includes 19 aluminum pallets that are 10"...

Products : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Vertical Lift Module

Modula OnePick from Modula (Lewiston, ME) combines the company’s vertical lift technology with an automated system for picking or replenishing a single product directly from the bay. Using a secure delivery interface window, products can be automatically picked and replenished in combination with a delivery and takeaway...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Automation System

Liebherr (Saline, MI) introduced the Rotary Loading System (RLS) for entry into high-efficiency production with one or two machining centers. The compact automation system is designed for workpiece weights of up to 800 kg (RLS 800) or 1,500 kg (RLS 1500), and dimensions up to 1,300 mm. It serves as an entry-level system for...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Reversible Hard Jaws

Reversible hard jaws from Dillon Manufacturing (Springfield, OH) are suitable for ID and OD workholding. The jaws are designed to hold a specific range of part sizes and are usually used for first operation workholding. They are available in serrated, Acme Key, square key, and tongue-and-groove styles to fit all brands of...

Products : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Cable Retraction System

The triflex® RSE pullback system from igus (East Providence, RI) uses a simple linear retraction without bends, fiber rods, or rollers. The system consists of a drylin® linear guide with carriage, elastic cord for retraction, fastening plates for connection to a variety of robot types, mounting bracket without strain...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Collaborative Robot

Rethink Robotics (Boston, MA) introduced Sawyer, a smart collaborative robot designed to execute machine tending, circuit board testing, and other precise tasks. The robot modifies its behavior to respond to changing and unexpected conditions on the plant floor. The robot weighs 19 kg (42 lbs.), and features 7 degrees of...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Part Positioners

Yaskawa Motoman (Dayton, OH) expanded its line of RM2 ferris wheel-style robotic part positioners. The positioners have two servo-driven trunnion/station axes on opposite sides of a central “sweep” axis. One station is positioned in front of one to four welding robots, while the other station is outside the robot envelope...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Foundry Robot

ABB Robotics (Auburn Hills, MI) introduced the IRB 1200 Foundry Plus 2 robot for material handling and machine tending. The compact foundry robot features the company’s optional protection system so it resists corrosion and withstands harsh environments, including high-pressure steam washing. The robot is IP66/67-compliant from...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Robot Programming Software

With the RISE interactive graphical interface from Hypertherm (Hanover, NH), users control the Robotmaster V6 programming software from within a robot simulation environment. Users can modify a robot’s positions and trajectories by clicking and dragging the robot’s arm, axes, tools, or the workpiece. To manage...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Collaborative Robot

Kawasaki Robotics (Wixom, MI) introduced the duAro collaborative robot. The dual-arm, horizontal articulated robot can safely collaborate with humans in work operations due to its low-power motors, soft body, speed, and shared work zone monitoring. The single-axis configuration provides independent arm operation with ±0.05...

Question of the Week : Robotics, Automation & Control
Are you optimistic about AI possibilities?

This week's Question: Today's featured INSIDER story demonstrated a new achievement in artificial intelligence. According to a recently released Stanford University report developed by a standing group of AI scientists, the ability for robots to be self-determined and concerned with their own longevity...

News : Robotics, Automation & Control
AI Algorithm 'Learns' Beyond its Training

A new machine-learning training method developed at the University of Toronto enables neural networks to learn directly from human-defined rules. The achievement supports new possibilities for artificial intelligence in medical diagnostics and self-driving cars.

News : Software
Drones and Biobots Map Disaster Areas

North Carolina State University researchers will use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and insect cyborgs, or biobots, to map large, unfamiliar locations.

News : Propulsion
Rocket Motor Design Could Boost Small Satellite Missions

Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory have developed a rocket motor concept that could be used to power CubeSat low-cost satellites. The Los Alamos team recently tested a six-motor CubeSat-compatible propulsion array with tremendous success.

News : Aerospace
Morphing Wing Could Enable More Efficient Manufacturing and Flight

A new morphing wing architecture could greatly simplify the manufacturing process and reduce fuel consumption of aircraft by improving the wing’s aerodynamics, as well as improving its agility. The wing consists of a system of tiny, lightweight subunits that could be assembled...

News : Robotics, Automation & Control
Mapping Marine Snow on Sea Floor

City-sized maps of terrain and life on the sea floor have revealed that drifts of "marine snow" on submarine hillsides act as a source of food to fuel a higher biomass of marine life than on flatter plains. This finding comes from research by scientists at the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) that may improve...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Lunar Regolith Simulant Sample Collection Mechanism for Remote Operation in a Thermal Vacuum Chamber

The Sample Capture Mechanism (SCM) is a remotely actuated, spring-driven mechanism designed to remotely capture and seal a 15-mL sample in less than 1 second. It was used to capture a 10-g sample of simulated regolith dispensed from a drill in a...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Sonar Inspection Robot System

NASA’s Johnson Space Center innovators have designed a Robotic Inspection System that is capable of surveying deep sea structures such as oil platform storage cells/tanks and pipelines in order to determine the volume of material remaining inside, interrogate structure integrity, and display real-time video and...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Robonaut 2: Industrial Opportunities

Researchers at the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC), in collaboration with General Motors (GM) and Oceaneering, have designed a state-of-the-art, highly dexterous, humanoid robot: Robonaut 2 (R2). R2’s nearly 50 patented and patent-pending technologies have the potential to be game-changers in many...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Vessel Sealing Device for Robotic Devices

Invasive surgical procedures are essential for addressing various medical conditions. When possible, minimally invasive procedures are preferred, but these technologies are often limited in scope and complexity. These limitations are due in part to mobility restrictions from the use of rigid tools in...

Articles : Electronics & Computers
2016 Create the Future Design Contest

The 2016 Create the Future Design Contest — sponsored by COMSOL, Mouser Electronics, and Tech Briefs Media Group (publishers of NASA Tech Briefs) — recognized innovation in product design in seven categories: Aerospace & Defense, Automotive/Transportation, Consumer Products, Electronics,...

Articles : Robotics, Automation & Control
2016 Create the Future Design Contest: Machinery/Automation/Robotics Category Winner

SHAPE MEMORY ALLOY BASED SAFETY LATCH

Nicholas W. Pinto, Suresh Gopalakrishnan, Chandra S. Namuduri, Nancy L. Johnson, and Mark Vann General Motors, Warren, MI

General Motors has invented a device that indicates when an unsafe level of energy...

Question of the Week : Robotics, Automation & Control
Will artificial intelligence do more good than bad for humanity?

This week's Question: World-famous physicist Stephen Hawking recently warned that the creation of powerful artificial intelligence will be “either the best, or the worst thing, ever to happen to humanity.” Hawking noted the risks of creating superintelligence with a will of its...

News : Motion Control
Spherical Motor Eliminates Robot’s Mechanical Drive System

The SIMbot robot features an elegant motor with just one moving part: the ball. The only other active moving part of the robot is the body itself. A spherical induction motor (SIM) eliminates the mechanical drive system and can move the ball in any direction using only electronic...

News : Motion Control
New Steel Enables Better Electric Motors

In order to make plug-in electric vehicles as affordable and convenient as internal-combustion cars, their motors must be smaller, lighter, more powerful, and more cost-effective. A research team is working to develop motors with the stator core (a non-rotating, magnetic part) manufactured with thin...