Small brush DC motors drive handheld biopsy system
When developing an automated, handheld system capable of harvesting multiple samples with a single insertion to reduce patient tissue trauma and sampling time, this medical device manufacturer turned to MICROMO for compact and high-efficiency FAULHABER® brush DC motors. Read the full article.
Compact angle sensor for robotics and other applications
See the robotics video demonstrating ease of programming and robotics application of certain angle sensors from Novotechnik. Novotechnik’s Vert-X 1600 Series of angle sensors (shown here) features easy mounting in tight spaces with a 16 mm diameter body. The sensors measure 0 to 360° with linearity ≤ ±0.3%, 14-bit resolution and repeatability to 0.1°. A variety of analog and digital output options are available. View the video.
Zero-backlash servo rotary indexing table
The Sankyo Automation RollerDrive Reducer is a precision gear reducer that uses a zero-backlash roller gear mechanism. The unit is constructed from an input shaft and a turret (output shaft) that is assembled with roller followers. The roller followers are preloaded against a screw-like input shaft to eliminate backlash. Sankyo servo indexing tables offer a constant lead cam with a servo motor drive for programmable motion and provide fast, highly accurate motion, with the added capability to move medium to heavy loads. The RU Series servo indexing table is available in 11 different sizes and varying ratios. Click here to learn more.
Plug-in motor controller for fast integration
Nanotec has introduced a new controller specifically for integration into devices: the NP5 plug-in motor controller, which is suitable for both brushless DC motors and stepper motors. A PCI Express connector allows for fast and easy integration into a customer-specific board, offering a compact and affordable solution that reduces wiring effort, particularly for multi-axis applications. The NP5 controller can control motors with a rated current up to 6 A via FOC, Hall sensors, or sensorless control. In addition to position, speed, and torque control, operating modes with cyclical set value specification are also available for interpolated multi-axis operation. Nanotec offers the free Plug & Drive Studio software for parameterization and programming. Click here to learn more.
Low-profile rotary air bearing stages achieve superior accuracy with virtually unlimited life
The new A-635/A-637 PIglide low-profile rotary air bearing stages from PI (Physik Instrumente) have no rolling or sliding elements and deliver frictionless, non-contact motion, resulting in negligible reversal error and better wobble eccentricity and velocity stability -- ideal prerequisites for high-end industrial applications such as inspection, metrology, calibration, and scanning, including cleanroom environments. Featuring 3-phase, low-cogging slotless torque motors with velocity to 500 rpm and optical encoders, these stages provide outstanding resolution, repeatability, and absolute accuracy. Click here to learn more. Watch PI’s Air Bearing Design & Manufacturing Operation Video.
Where would I get an exoskeleton joint actuator?
maxon motor is now offering a complete joint actuation unit consisting of a pancake brushless DC motor (EC90 flat) with inertia optimized rotor, internal high-resolution 4096 MILE Encoder, planetary gearhead with absolute encoder, and EPOS4 position controller with CAN and RS232 interface. Fitting the 17-bit SSI absolute encoder directly at the joint rotation to a degree will negate the effect of gearhead backlash, giving designers increased positioning accuracy. The unit will deliver 54 Nm of continuous torque and 120 Nm on a 20% duty cycle. The system can be operated on supplies between 10 VDC and 50 VDC, and the actuation speed is up to 22 rpm. Learn more.
Programmable electric moving coil servo actuator
Introducing the 35-mm diameter CBL35C electric cylinder from SMAC. With its built-in controller, the CBL35C controls force, position, and velocity and features simple installation. Ideal for applications with limited space but requiring accurate control, the CBL35C provides significantly longer life, programmability, high speed, accuracy, and energy efficiency while remaining price-competitive. It also enables the direct replacement of existing pneumatic cylinders and retrofits without any machine modifications required. Click here to learn more.
Zero downtime available for FANUC robots
The Robot LINKi Zero Down Time (ZDT) service is now available to all automotive and non-automotive manufacturers who purchase FANUC robots. Launched in 2015 in collaboration with Cisco, ZDT is a predictive analytic service that automatically monitors robot health status and upcoming maintenance requirements. It eliminates the need for manual analysis and tracking, avoiding unexpected breakdowns during production. Today, over 16,000 robots in the automotive industry are operating with ZDT, which is available for all FANUC R-30iB Plus robots as well as R-30iA and R-30iB robots with the latest software version. Click here to learn more.
Selecting pneumatic or electric actuators
For some automation applications, it can be difficult to decide if a pneumatic or electric motor-driven actuator is best. Obviously, cost can be a big factor when choosing between the two, with pneumatic actuators typically costing less. So why should you pay more for an electric rodless actuator? Rollon says the answer boils down to higher levels of stiffness, as well as dynamic speed and motor control. Read the full article.
Top 5 challenges of motion control design
As motion control solutions -- from angle encoders to direct drive motors -- become even more ubiquitous in industrial situations, engineers face evolving demands and opportunities. From lowering the cost of advanced technologies to improving functional safety in automated environments, here are the top five challenges and opportunities in today’s motion control design industry as seen by engineers from HEIDENHAIN. Read the full article.
XY stage gives high resolution and repeatability
The XYR-03-01 Motorized Alignment Stage from Optimal Engineering Systems (OES) is a high-resolution, high-repeatability XY-Theta (3-axis) stage for applications such as angular glass cutting and grinding, wafer alignment, semiconductor handling, and laser cutting and drilling. The linear resolution of the X and Y axis is 5µ (non-micro-step) or 0.125µ (20 micro-steps per step motor driver in use), the repeatability is 1.5µ, and positional accuracy is 5µ. The 1-mm per-turn lead screws and preloaded V-groove and crossed roller bearings add to the high precision and stiffness of the XYR-03-01 alignment stage. Click here to learn more.
Top-of-the-range high-resolution encoder
Requirements on encoders are becoming more and more demanding, particularly for positioning applications with precision constant-speed control, where increasingly compact housings need to accommodate an ever-greater number of electrical contacts. maxon motor solves this problem with its new ENX 16 RIO (Reflective, Interpolated, Optical) encoder. It is a mere 16 mm in size and offers a resolution up to 65,536 counts per turn, making it ideal for the precise position and velocity control of DC motors. With a 16-mm outer diameter and a 7-mm overall length, the housing is mechanically robust and protected from dust due to its injection-molded construction. The operating temperature range is -40 C to 100 C. It fits the new brushless EC-i 30 motors and the brushed DCX motors. The encoder can be combined and configured with matching drives online. Click here to learn more.
High-traction robot goes underground
Recent developments in motion control and engineering make it possible to inspect and perform maintenance in compact sewers from the inside. The underground sewer robot is equipped with a swiveling camera and an air-powered milling machine driven by FAULHABER miniature DC motors from MICROMO. Read the full article.
Tips for selecting linear actuators
Aaron Dietrich from Tolomatic runs through the main specifying considerations for electric actuators, citing their high performance, adaptability, low total cost of ownership, and easy integration. But what about accuracy and repeatability? Should you go with a rod-style actuator or a screw type? What kind of force should you expect if you are considering converting from hydraulic to electric actuation? Tolomatic also offers an extensive ebook to help with your decision-making if you need it. Click here to learn more.
Cost-optimized BLDC motors for series production
With the DBL36, Nanotec now offers a brushless DC motor that is designed for large quantities. This motor is available in three lengths with a rated power of 7.5 W (size S), 18 W (size M), and 33 W (size L). These electronically commuted 3-phase motors are equipped with three Hall sensors that provide information on the rotor position. They are characterized by very high efficiency and, thanks to their precision ball bearings, smooth running characteristics. The rated speed is 4,800 rpm for sizes S and M and 4,500 rpm for size L; its rated voltage is 24 V. With a rated torque of 1.5 to 7 Ncm and a diameter of 36 mm, the DBL36 is an extremely economical solution for a wide range of applications. The winding can be adapted to other rated speeds and voltages in series production. Click here to learn more.
Human pilot vs. artificial intelligence: In 40-mph drone race, who wins?
JPL engineers recently finished developing three drones and the artificial intelligence needed for them to navigate an obstacle course by themselves. As a test of these algorithms, they raced the drones against a professional human pilot. [Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech]
Drone racing is a high-speed sport demanding instinctive reflexes -- but humans won't be the only competitors for long.
Researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, put their work to the test recently. Timing laps through a twisting obstacle course, they raced drones controlled by artificial intelligence (A.I.) against a professional human pilot.
The race, held Oct. 12, capped off two years of research into drone autonomy funded by Google. The company was interested in JPL's work with vision-based navigation for spacecraft -- technologies that can also be applied to drones. To demonstrate the team's progress, JPL set up a timed trial between their A.I. and world-class drone pilot Ken Loo.
VIDEO: JPL drone race -- Human vs. machine.
The team built three custom drones (dubbed Batman, Joker, and Nightwing) and developed the complex algorithms the drones needed to fly at high speeds while avoiding obstacles. These algorithms were integrated with Google's Tango technology, which JPL also worked on.
The drones were built to racing specifications and could easily go as fast as 80 mph (129 kph) in a straight line. But on the obstacle course set up in a JPL warehouse, they could only fly at 30 or 40 mph (48 to 64 kph) before they needed to apply the brakes.
"We pitted our algorithms against a human, who flies a lot more by feel," said Rob Reid of JPL, the project's task manager. "You can actually see that the A.I. flies the drone smoothly around the course, whereas human pilots tend to accelerate aggressively, so their path is jerkier."
Compared to Loo, the A.I. drones flew more cautiously but consistently. Their algorithms are still a work in progress. For example, the drones sometimes moved so fast that motion blur caused them to lose track of their surroundings.
Loo attained higher speeds and was able to perform impressive aerial corkscrews. But he was limited by exhaustion, something the A.I.-piloted drones didn't have to deal with.
"This is definitely the densest track I've ever flown," Loo said. "One of my faults as a pilot is I get tired easily. When I get mentally fatigued, I start to get lost, even if I've flown the course 10 times."
While the A.I. and human pilot started out with similar lap times, after dozens of laps, Loo learned the course and became more creative and nimble. For the official laps, Loo averaged 11.1 seconds, compared to the autonomous drones, which averaged 13.9 seconds.
But the A.I. drones were more consistent overall. Where Loo's times varied more, the A.I was able to fly the same racing line every lap.
"Our autonomous drones can fly much faster," Reid said. "One day you might see them racing professionally!"
Without a human pilot, autonomous drones typically rely on GPS to find their way around. That's not an option for indoor spaces like warehouses or dense urban areas. A similar challenge is faced by autonomous cars.
Camera-based localization and mapping technologies have various potential applications, Reid added. These technologies might allow drones to check on inventory in warehouses or assist search-and-rescue operations at disaster sites. They might even be used eventually to help future robots navigate the corridors of a space station.