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: Robotics, Automation & Control
Contact State Estimation for Multi-Finger Robot Hands Using Particle Filters

A method, using a particle filter, has been created for identifying the location, orientation, and shape of an object that a robot hand touches. An appropriate motion model has been defined that characterizes the motion of the robot hand as it moves relative to an...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Tendon-Driven Finger, Wrist, and Thumb Actuation System

The Robonaut 2 (R2) Dexterous Robot is the result of an effort to build a two-armed, ten-fingered humanoid robot torso capable of assembly work. This invention concerns a multi-fingered hand, and is composed of several parts. One is a tendon-driven, four-link, four-degree-of-freedom robotic...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Visual-Aided Inertial Navigation for Computationally Constrained Aerial Vehicles

Micro aerial vehicles (MAVs) are lightweight, highly dynamic vehicles with limited payload, sensing, and computation capabilities. There is significant interest to automate MAVs for military surveillance, reconnaissance, and search-and-rescue missions. The current...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Robotic Surgical Devices, Systems, and Related Methods

Various advancements have been made in the development of miniature in vivo surgical robots. These robots are designed to perform Laparoendo scopic Single-Site Surgery (LESS). After being inserted through a single incision, these robots can perform surgical procedures in a dexterous...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Ship Classification Using Gnostic Fields

There are many applications for Autonomous Seaborne Vessels (ASVs). The seaborne cargo shipping industry moves over 9 billion tons of cargo per year, is worth $375 billion, and is responsible for 90 percent of world trade. Autonomous cargo ships could reduce the operating expenses of cargo ships by 44%....

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Tension-Stiffened and Tendon-Actuated Space Manipulators

The Space Shuttle Remote Manipulator System (SRMS) and Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS) have proven the benefit of long-reach manipulators, with the reach of both manipulators in the l5-18-m class. Manipulators with greater reach provide many benefits. The SRMS’s limited...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
NASA Tensegrity Robotics Toolkit (NTRT)

Tensegrity robots have many unique properties useful for robots intended to operate in natural settings, yet the exploration of how to build and control such robots is just beginning. Many of their positive qualities, such as multipath force distribution, compliance, and their oscillatory nature, also make...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
RoboSimian Software System from the DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals

A software architecture to allow semi-autonomous mobile manipulation of highly dexterous robots under degraded communications was developed to enable remote operation of a mobile manipulation robot as a first responder in a disaster-response scenario. The software architecture...

Each of the single-molecule, 244-atom submersibles built at Rice University has a motor powered by ultraviolet light. With each full revolution, the motor’s tail-like propeller moves the sub...

News: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Wearable Equipment Supports Human Motion

The Unplugged Powered Suit (UPS), a new model of pneumatic muscle and an active type of assistive equipment incorporating the muscle, is wearable equipment that supports human movement without...

Articles: Robotics, Automation & Control
Choosing the Right Potentiometer for Reliable Sensing

A potentiometer sensor is an electromechanical component that consists of a resistor where the voltage divider value can be measured at any position by means of sliding contacts between...

With the increased processing power that PCs have attained, a complex machine that used to require an expensive and dedicated hardware-based motion...

News: Robotics, Automation & Control
Army’s “Robo-Raven” UAV Flies with Flapping Wings

In the future, it's possible that some unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) might sport wings that flap like a bird or a butterfly. The Army Research Lab has been testing such a UAV, known...

Machines that are much smaller than the width of a human hair could one day help clean up carbon dioxide pollution in the oceans. Nanoengineers at the University of...

News: Motion Control
Single-Molecule Nanosubmarines Powered by Light

Rice University scientists have created light-driven, single-molecule submersibles that contain just 244 atoms. The motors of the "nanosubmarines" run at more than a million RPM, and the sub's top speed amounts to less than 1 inch per second.

Stanford engineers built an autonomous DeLorean capable of stable, precise drifting at large angles in order to study how cars perform in extreme situations, which could...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Autonomous Micro Aerial Vehicle Flight Using Optical Flow and Inertial Cues

Micro aerial vehicles (MAVs) are agile and have unstable flight dynamics. They require a failsafe method to be navigated through areas even without GPS coverage. The approach of this work is to use only the feature matches between two consecutive images, i.e. optical...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Universal Robotically Operated Leave-Behind Gripper

This universal robotically operated leavebehind gripper allows robotic (or extravehicular activity — EVA) attachment capability of any object at eight existing types of attachments at the International Space Station (ISS). It enables expansion of external stowage and payload sites to include...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
DshellCommon Simulation Framework

DshellCommon software has been developed for specifying and executing generic multibody system simulations. This innovation helps the user create and execute simulations for mechanisms, vehicles, spacecraft, or other systems by making it easier to write simulation “run scripts” for systems that vary from...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Neutrally Buoyant Tank Inspection and Cleaning Robot

Huge savings in cost and inspection times (as well as improved safety) could be obtained by performing in-service inspection of tank floors and walls with robotic devices. This would have a reduced environmental impact and meet EPA and state regulations.

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Visualization and Introspection for Teleoperation of Robotic Systems

The Space Exploration and Analysis Simulations (SEAS) project at JPL performs analysis of advanced mission and system concepts on behalf of NASA. One of the concepts being explored involves operation of robotic rovers on the Moon from a remote operator station located either at...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Robotic Exoskeleton (EXO)

The Exoskeleton (EXO) is a device that falls into a new classification of robotics called wearable robots. On-orbit applications include countermeasures and dynamometry, allowing for continual assessment of a...

Compact, Long-Reach Robotic Arm

William R. Doggett, John T. Dorsey, George G. Ganoe, Thomas C. Jones, and Cole K. Corbin, Langley Research Center...

News: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Engineers Put 'Spring' in Robots' Step

The ATRIAS robot model developed at Oregon State University uses a "spring-mass" walking approach. The natural-gait method gives human-sized bipedal robots the ability to blindly react to rough terrain, maintain balance, retain an efficiency of motion, and walk like humans.

When driving a car, the clutch mechanically carries the torque produced by the engine to the chassis of the vehicle – a coupling that has long been tested and optimized in such macroscopic...

The Biomechatronics Group at MIT is using a data-driven approach to study the mechanics and control of human walking, with the goal of applying the findings to hardware control. PhD...

News: Robotics, Automation & Control
Researchers Test Robot's 'Light Touch'

Using an air-fluidized bed trackway filled with poppy seeds or glass spheres, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology systematically varied the stiffness of the ground to mimic a variety of surfaces, from hard-packed sand to powdery snow. By studying how running lizards, geckos, crabs, and a...

Researchers have developed a three-fingered soft robotic hand with embedded, stretchable fiber optic strain sensors. By using fiber optics, the researchers were able to embed 14...

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