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.

An engineering team at the University of California San Diego has designed and built a gripper that can pick up and manipulate objects without needing to see them and without...

INSIDER: Robotics, Automation & Control
Vacuum System Powers Modular Soft Robot

Researchers at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland have created the first functional robot powered entirely by vacuum. It is made up of soft building blocks that move...

INSIDER: Robotics, Automation & Control
Multi-Legged Robot Reconfigures in Real Time

Scientists at Disney Research, Pittsburgh, PA have developed a modular, reconfigurable legged robot named Snapbot that can move forward, interact with its environment, and perform other tasks...

INSIDER: Robotics, Automation & Control
Creating the Future: An Industrial Robot Climbs to the Top

Petrochemical and liquid gas companies require a regular inspection of a vessel's welds and wall thicknesses — a dangerous task given the hazardous environment. A climbing robot,...

Who needs a keyboard, a mouse, or a joystick? A researcher from Arizona State University wants to command machines with the human brain.

A rubber “skin” developed at the University of Houston allows a robotic hand to sense the difference between hot and cold temperatures. The semiconductor material supports new...

Question of the Week: Robotics, Automation & Control
Will "print-and-go" structures lead to printable robots?

As seen in this week's Tech Briefs TV video, MIT researchers envision many possibilities for devices that self-fold without external stimuli.

Today's water distribution systems lose an average of 20 percent of their supply because of leaks. Current leak-detection systems are expensive and slow to operate, and they don't work well in systems...

Torque Motor

ThinGap (Camarillo, CA) has developed the first member of a new motor family of high peak torque density brushless PM motors that reach over 20 Nm/Kg. The frameless LSI 105...

Large amounts of existing space debris pose a threat to satellites, space vehicles, and astronauts aboard those vehicles. However, cleaning up the debris is problematic. For example, suction cups don't...

Replacing rigid joints and linkages with mechanisms that bend offers a number of potential advantages, even as it makes designing devices more difficult. A computational design tool...

Articles: Motion Control
Selecting the Correct Actuator

The need for actuators has grown exponentially. Nearly everywhere you look you can see pneumatic, hydraulic, or electric actuator systems at work in an endless variety of applications. There are many...

A lightweight module for rapid, accurate, and versatile positioning of semiconductor chips features a novel electromechanical actuator that can move objects both linearly and...

Articles: Motion Control
MOTOR DRIVES: Build or Buy

Every system design presents a unique set of specifications regarding cost, space, time-to-market, and other factors. Designers must therefore make tradeoffs to meet these requirements, such as opting for a higher...

Because ball screws are available in both inch and metric dimensions, designers sometimes begin the specification process by selecting a product family based on the unit of...

ALIO Industries designs and builds very high precision automation stages for nano-level manufacturing and research applications, including microlithography,...

Folding robots based on origami have emerged as an exciting new frontier of robotic design. However, they generally require onboard batteries or a wired connection to a power source, making them...

Currently available air motors have many advantages over electric motors. They are more compact, lighter-weight, instantly reversible without sparking, create no heat buildup, are undamaged by...

Origami has once again inspired engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. Besides aesthetic beauty, the Japanese tradition of paper-folding addresses a...

MIT researchers have developed a way to print flat electronics that can fold themselves into a desired shape. The researchers say the development could have applications in...

INSIDER: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Webb Telescope Actuators Move with Microscopic Accuracy

The James Webb Space Telescope will be the most powerful space telescope ever built. With a 21-foot diameter, the telescope’s primary mirror is six times larger than the one...

Question of the Week: Robotics, Automation & Control
Will origami-inspired crawler robots support pipe inspection?

This week’s lead story featured an origami-inspired robot. Assistant professor Aimy Wissa sees possible pipe inspection applications for the crawler.

"Pipes have different kinds of diameters, and you want something that can fit in there with ease," Wissa said in our Tech...

INSIDER: Robotics, Automation & Control
Learning to Crawl: Origami Robot Moves Like an Earthworm

A new mechanical innovation unfolded this month at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as a team of engineers built a new kind of crawler robot. The wheel-less design takes...

Currently available air motors have many advantages over electric motors. They are more compact, lighter-weight, instantly reversible without sparking, create no heat buildup, are undamaged...

INSIDER: Robotics, Automation & Control
Robotic Gripper Cleans Up Space Debris

Currently there are about 500,000 pieces of human-made debris in space, orbiting our planet at speeds up to 17,500 miles per hour. This debris poses a threat to satellites, space vehicles, and...

A team of researchers at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) at Harvard University has...

In a “speed and separation” manufacturing scenario, a safe distance must be maintained between a collaborative robot and a human operator. When the gap reaches below a specific...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Soft Robot “Walks” on Any Terrain

Traditional robots often feature isolated mechanical joints. These discrete components limit a rover’s ability to traverse sand, stone, and other challenging environments. A team at the University of...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
High-Temperature Actuators Bend as They “Breathe”

Extreme temperatures are hard for mechanical components to endure without degrading. To address the problem, researchers at MIT worked with several other universities to develop a new way...

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