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.

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Disposable Cartridge Components

Plastikos, Erie, PA, offers disposable cartridge components made of cyclic olefin polymer (COC) for wearable drug delivery devices holding medications such as insulin and pain medicines. The disposable cartridges are manufactured under strict tolerance levels and multi-cavity tooling. Every cavity on each mold was...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Rotary Valve

RotaVal Ltd. (Wiltshire, UK) introduced a heavy-duty rotary valve for use where solids handled and operating conditions combine to cause abrasive erosion within the valve. It has on-site component replacement. The valves are used in discharging materials such as cement, PFA, granite dust, silica sand, and mineral powders under...

Products : Motion Control
Voice Coil Actuator

The LAH15-19-000A linear voice coil actuator from BEI Kimco (Vista, CA) provides low hysteresis/ low friction with bi-directional position control. It is suited for applications where low friction and high force accuracy are needed. The low-friction design features a patent-pending symmetrical flex circuit that prevents...

Products : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Compact Robot

ABB Robotics (Auburn Hills, MI) introduced the IRB 1660ID compact robot for arc welding and machine tending applications. It features a DressPack design that allows users to program and simulate predictable cable movements, a rigid upper arm with a reach of 1.55 m, and a payload of 6 kg. It is able to accommodate heavier weld...

Products : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Block Spindle

Suhner Industrial Products Corp. Automation Division (Rome, GA) introduced the BEX8 high-speed machining block spindle capable of maintaining rigidity and precision at operations up to 25,000 rpm. The spindle weighs 33 lbs. and can be mounted directly onto robotic arms for fully automated machining operations in automotive,...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Rotary Tables

Koma Precision (East Windsor, CT) offers Tsudakoma RDS Series direct drive rotary tables that use a proprietary direct drive motor system that enables the tables to achieve high speed and acceleration with no backlash. The compact, single-axis, 150-rpm tables feature indexing accuracy of ±10 arc seconds and a pneumatic braking...

Products : Motion Control
Undermount Slide

Accuride (Santa Fe Springs, CA) announced the 3135EC Eclipse Undermount Easy- Close slide. The slide offers improved full extension movement with a 100-pound load rating and 4.8 pounds of pull force. The Easy-Close action brings drawers to a smooth close while reducing the total envelope of the product. Fluid dampeners resist...

Products : Robotics, Automation & Control
Pneumatic Gripper

Fabco-Air (Gainesville, FL) announced the FKHS Series 3 Jaw parallel motion pneumatic gripper for handling small parts in tight spaces. They are available in bore sizes of 25, 32, 40, 50, 63, and 80 mm. A magnetic piston is standard on all grippers. Mounting is via direct body (top and bottom) mounting holes.

Products : Motion Control
Positioning System

Piezoconcept (Lyon, France) offers the Hybrid System, an integrated positioning system for use with any standard inverted optical microscope. It combines a manual micrometer-driven, two-axis, linear motion stage with high-resolution, ultra-low-profile nanopositioners providing up to 300 μm in every direction. A stable...

Briefs : Motion Control
A Method for Accurate Load/Position Control of Rigidly Coupled Electromechanical Actuators

NASA has developed a technique designed to prevent cross-coupling in systems where two or more linear electro-mechanical actuators (EMA) are rigidly connected and are in danger of becoming cross-coupled. In such systems where the linked EMAs are commanded...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Residual Mode Filters

NASA has developed a unique control algorithm and synthesis method that uses a system’s output to modify control inputs to cause the system to track a reference model or a fixed value in the presence of unmodeled system dynamics, varying operating environments, and unpredictable disturbances. The unique feature of this...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Probabilistic Surface Characterization for Safe Landing Hazard Detection and Avoidance (HDA)

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has developed a probabilistic algorithm for hazard detection and avoidance (HDA) that robustly handles sensor noise. Conventional surface characterization methods use fixed hazard thresholds to determine hazardous...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Robot for Controlled Deposition of Multilayer Thin Film Structures

During deposition of thin film layers using shadow masking techniques, thin film layer structure morphology changes with respect to the position of the thin film layer and the shadow of the mask. Morphology changes in the thin film result in refractive index and density changes...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Walk and Roll Robot

In smooth terrain, the most efficient motion to traverse the terrain is rolling. However, when a wheeled vehicle encounters obstacles, it must circumvent them if possible or choose an alternate path. Legged vehicles can traverse such obstacles by stepping over them, but are not energy efficient on smooth terrain. The Walk and...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Human Grasp Assist Device with Exoskeleton

Researchers at the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC), in collaboration with General Motors (GM), have designed and developed Robo-Glove, a wearable human grasp assist device, to help reduce the grasping force needed by an individual to operate tools for an extended time or when performing tasks having...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Electromagnetic Monitoring and Control of a Plurality of Nanosatellites

NASA has developed an innovative combination of a Magnetometer, low-powered ElectroMagnets, and Res onant Inductive Coupling (MEMRIC) to create and control relative positioning of nanosatellites within a cluster. This is a game-changing approach to enable distributed...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Elimination of Yaw Component of Gyroscope Propagation Error During Arm Activity in MSL

When updating attitude during arm motion, gyroscope propagation error soon becomes greater than the tilt being monitored. The solution is to add an accelerometer-only mode that can update attitude without using gyroscopes, and to add the ability to monitor...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Locomotion of Amorphous Surface Robots

NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed multiple ways for amorphous robots to autonomously move across a surface without needing conventional wheels or legs. Amorphous robots are useful in dusty and sandy environments in which greater mobility, passive shape changing, and immunity to dust and...

News : RF & Microwave Electronics
Underground Radar Sheds Light on Post-Katrina Damage

An innovative underground radar technology developed at Louisiana Tech University is helping the City of Slidell in south Louisiana to identify and document underground infrastructure damage that had gone undetected in the months and years following Hurricane Katrina.

News : Motion Control
Wave-Propelled, Slithering Robot Uses a Single Small Motor

Engineers at Ben-Gurion University have developed the first wave-like robot powered by a single actuator with no internal straight spine. The Single Actuator Wave-Like Robot (SAW) mimics the movement of living biological systems like snakes and worms. Moving at 22 inches per second, the...

News : Electronics & Computers
Navy Grant Fuels Effort to Improve Safety of Military Technology

An Indiana University expert in the high-tech field of computer vision will collaborate with U.S. Navy engineers to improve the quality of microelectronic components used in critical military systems like communication and navigation. David Crandall, a professor in the IU...

News : Robotics, Automation & Control
Researcher Creates System to Control Robots With the Brain

A researcher at Arizona State University has discovered how to control multiple robotic drones using the human brain. A controller wears a skull cap outfitted with 128 electrodes wired to a computer. The device records electrical brain activity. If the controller moves a hand or thinks...

News : Imaging
Operators Control Multiple Drones by Thought

A researcher at Arizona State University has discovered how to control multiple robotic drones using the human brain. A controller wears a skull cap outfitted with 128 electrodes wired to a computer. The device records electrical brain activity. If the controller moves a hand or thinks of something,...

News : Medical
Wave-Propelled Robot Swims, Crawls, Climbs

The first single actuator wave-like robot (SAW) has been developed by engineers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. The 3D-printed robot can move forward or backward in a wave-like motion, moving much like a worm would in a perpendicular wave.

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Self-Latching Piezocomposite Actuator

NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed a self-latching piezocomposite actuator. The self-latching nature of this invention allows for piezo actuators that do not require constant power draw. Among other applications, the invention is well suited for use in aerodynamic control surfaces and engine...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Active Response Gravity Offload and Method

To train astronauts to live and work in the weightless environment on the International Space Station, NASA employs a number of techniques and facilities that simulate microgravity. Engineers at the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) have developed a new system called the Active Response Gravity Offload...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Fluid Harmonic Absorber

NASA Marshall Space Flight Center’s Fluid Structure Coupling (FSC) technology is a highly efficient and passive method to control the way fluids and structures communicate and dictate the behavior of a system. This technology has the demonstrated potential to mitigate a multitude of different types of vibration issues,...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Variable-Aperture Reciprocating Reed Valve

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center engineers have developed a new reed valve for controlling fluid flow back and forth between two chambers. The VARR valve provides two-way flow that is proportional to flow demand. As the pressure gradient builds on one side, the reed valve responds by opening an...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Passive, Integrated, Sublimator-Driven Coldplate

Spacecraft thermal control systems typically perform three key functions — heat acquisition, heat transport, and heat rejection — in addition to those of insulation, heat generation, and heat storage. In a typical pumped fluid-loop spacecraft thermal control system, heat is acquired from...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems

Experiments in space can be expensive and infrequent, but Earth’s upper atmosphere is accessible via large scientific balloons, and can be used to address many of the same fundamental questions. Scientific balloons are made of a thin polyethylene film inflated with helium, and can carry atmospheric sampling instruments on a gondola...