November 06, 2012 Volume 08 Issue 41

Motion Control News & Products

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Critical medical applications demand top-quality motion

Surgical robotics systems offer an overwhelming advantage over traditional methods: improved precision and speed, faster patient healing, and a reduced margin of error. For minimally invasive procedures requiring this level of precision, performance, and reliability, the engineers of surgical robotics systems depend on FAULHABER motion systems.
Read the full article.


Pick, measure, and sort small parts with one robotic workstation

New Scale Robotics has introduced its Q-Span Automated Small-Part Measurement Systems for quality control (QC) teams in high-mix, small-batch manufacturing environments. Q-Span Systems combine robotic pick-and-place with automated measurement of small parts. They easily integrate into existing workflows in the QC lab or on the production floor, and automate the tedious manual process of measuring parts with digital calipers.
Learn more.


Universal Robots develops interface for Siemens engineering portal

Integrating Universal Robots' collaborative robots into complex machines and manufacturing environments will soon be a process machine builders and systems integrators can handle seamlessly through one of the world's leading automation platforms: Siemens' TIA (Totally Integrated Automation) portal.
Read the full article.


Voice coil stages and actuators for precise motion

Because of their small dimensions, voice coil motors are often integrated in compact stages, actuators, and fast tip/tilt mirror platforms. These devices are driven by an electromagnetic motor consisting of a moving coil winding and a fixed magnet (the opposite is also possible). By precisely controlling the electric current in the coil, the magnetic force (Lorenz force) -- and thus, acceleration, velocity, and position -- can be varied very accurately.
Learn all about voice coil stages and actuators from PI.


Compact, low-noise gearboxes for high loads

With the GP56-N series, the Nanotec product line now also includes low-noise planetary gearboxes for brushless DC motors and stepper motors with flange size 56 and 60 mm. They are ideally suited for applications in medical devices and building automation. The helical toothing allows the teeth to mesh gradually, which results in a smoother transmission of forces so that vibrations and noise are reduced. Planetary gears and the ring gear consist of a high-quality, low-wear plastic, making the new gearboxes quieter than conventional, straight-geared metal gearboxes. Available in one- and two-stage versions in nine different reductions and varying output torques.
Learn more.


Gearless speed reducers with traction drive tech

Stock Drive Products / Sterling Instrument (SDP/SI) has introduced new speed reducers with traction drive technology. Featuring a gearless drive, these speed reducers are highly efficient and feature only six moving parts. They use engineered traction fluid to cool and lubricate, and they generate less heat than conventional drives. Years of development and testing have been invested in this new technology, resulting in a product featuring infinite ratios up to a ratio of 5:1, dramatic reduction of motor torque ripple, low vibration and noise level, and significantly less maintenance than a conventional gearbox.
Learn more.


Exploring Mars with miniature motors

When developing the high-resolution Panoramic Camera on the ExoMars Rover, engineers looked for motors that were extremely compact and could also deliver reliable and precise positioning for the camera-focusing mechanism. FAULHABER Stepper motors were selected for the job, as they precisely position objects with a resolution of 1280 steps per revolution without the need for a separate feedback system, and are more rugged and sturdy than conventional servo motors.
Read the full article.


MAHLE developing highly efficient magnet-free motor for electric vehicles

German automotive industry supplier MAHLE is currently developing a new, highly efficient magnet-free electric motor that does not require rare-earth elements and costs less to produce. The company says the motor's efficiency level has only been achieved by Formula E racing cars so far.
Read the full article.


Distributed drive system designed for conveyor applications

With its new Sinamics G115D, Siemens is introducing a compact and powerful drive system specifically designed for horizontal conveyor applications. The IP-rated system comprises the motor, drive, and gearbox in one unit and is offered in two versions: wall mounted and motor mounted. It is suitable for applications in intra-logistics and airports, as well as in the automotive and food and beverage industries.
Learn more.


FANUC tabletop robot now in 10 model variations

FANUC America has just introduced the LR Mate 200iD/14L, the 10th model variation of its popular LR Mate series of tabletop industrial robots. Since the LR Mate series was launched nearly 30 years ago, it has become one of FANUC's biggest sellers, with over 70,000 units installed across the globe. The LR Mate 200iD/14L allows the highest payload of the LR Mate series, handling parts weighing up to 14 kg in the automotive, e-commerce and warehousing, food and beverage, medical device, pharmaceutical, and many other industries.
Find the right LR Mate for your application.


Boost productivity with OnRobot's all-electric VGC10 vacuum gripper

OnRobot's versatile VGC10 vacuum gripper enabled Sydney, Australia-based injection molding experts Designed Mouldings to boost productivity and reduce cycle times through automation of key assembly processes. The low-cost, all-electric VGC10 easily completes 20,000 product runs in 24 hours -- three times faster than manual labor -- freeing workers to focus on higher value tasks. And with no external air supply to worry about, the VGC10 supported easy deployment with excellent results.
Learn how.


Neat. Guide any major industrial robot easily with Robeye visual guidance system

Recognition Robotics offers its complete Robeye visual guidance system that includes all the components needed to guide any major industrial robot. This industry-proven technology with potential for hundreds of applications is currently running production in multiple automotive OEMs. Benefits include quick-and-easy setup, simplified line feeding (for things like pre-centering tooling, conveyors, high-precision racks and rack stands), reduced production time, increased flexibility, and no CAD data or calibration required for new tasks. Just connect, teach, and recognize -- all in less than five minutes. The Robeye Espresso Starter Kit includes everything you need to get underway.
Learn more about the system.
Learn about Robeye in De-racking Applications.


Mini brushless DC motor with integrated driver

Portescap's new 22ECP miniature brushless DC motor includes an integrated driver to optimize motor performance and simplify installation. The 22-mm-diameter motor is just 35 mm in length and delivers 50% more continuous torque than comparable brushless slotless mini motors -- without compromising smoothness of operation or motor lifespan. It's a high-performance, economic two-pole motor designed to deliver a balance between speed and torque. Applications include respiratory and ventilation devices, infusion pumps, mini industrial pumps, medical hand tools, clinical diagnostics, and valve actuation.
Learn more.


New Cobot Welder is programmable with smartphone app

The new Cobot Welder from Hirebotics is a major leap forward in easy-to-use welding automation that combines industrial-grade robot welding functionality with consumer-level ease-of-use and a phenomenal price point -- especially for small and medium-size businesses. The Cobot Welder's app programmability decreases the time required to teach a new part by 60%. A Hirebotics/Universal Robots launch event will be held April 28.
Read the full article.


Improved low-backlash Slip-Ease clutches

SDP/SI offers a new, low-backlash variant of its existing line of multi-plate in-line slip clutches. Both versions feature an all-mechanical design, which makes them considerably cheaper than electromechanical alternatives. These clutches are commonly used for overload protection to prevent injury and machine failure, but have a wide variety of other applications such as tension control and positioning retention hinges like the ones in reclining chairs. The slip plates are layered with friction pads in between, and an adjusting nut sets the slip torque by squeezing the plates together. The outer plates are tabbed to fit into the output housing and the inner plates are connected to the input hub, so the two ends disengage from one another upon slipping.
View the video.


DARPA tests UAV-to-UAV refueling at 45,000 ft

DARPA completes close-proximity flight tests of two modified RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles, demonstrates technology enabling autonomous aerial refueling.

Global military aviation currently relies on a key enabler: aerial refueling. Fighters, bombers, reconnaissance, and transport aircraft use "flying gas stations" to go the extra mile.

Increasingly, UAVs are conducting combat and ISR operations, but they aren't designed to be refueled in flight. In 2007, DARPA teamed up with NASA to show that high-performance aircraft can easily perform automated refueling from conventional tankers, yet many unmanned aircraft can't match the speed, altitude, and performance of the current tanker fleet. The 2007 demonstration also required a pilot on board to set conditions and monitor safety during autonomous refueling operations.

But DARPA has been working to close this capability gap.

Global Hawk UAVs demonstrate close-proximity test flight.

 

 

DARPA's two-year Autonomous High-Altitude Refueling (AHR) program, which concluded Sep. 30, explored the ability to safely conduct fully autonomous refueling of UAVs in challenging high-altitude flight conditions. During its final test flight, two modified Global Hawk aircraft flew in close formation, 100 ft or less between refueling probe and receiver drogue, for the majority of a 2.5-hr engagement at 44,800 ft. This demonstrated, for the first time, that High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) -class aircraft can safely and autonomously operate under in-flight refueling conditions.

The flight was the ninth test and the first time the aircraft flew close enough to measure the full aerodynamic and control interactions for unmanned-to-unmanned connections. Flight data was analyzed over the past few months and fed back into simulations to verify system safety and performance through contact and fuel transfer, including the effects of turns and gusts up to 20 knots.

Since HALE aircraft are designed for endurance at the expense of control authority, the program started with the expectation that only one in six attempts would achieve positive contact (17%). The final analysis, however, indicated that 60% of the attempts would achieve contact.

Multiple autonomous breakaway contingencies were successfully triggered well in advance of potentially hazardous conditions. Fuel systems were fully integrated and ground tested, demonstrating a novel "reverse-flow" approach with the tanker in trail. This approach opens valuable trade space for future developers to choose between various fixed and modular implementations of proven probe and drogue hardware.

"The goal of this demonstration was to create the expectation that future HALE aircraft will be refueled in flight," says Jim McCormick, DARPA program manager. "Such designs should be more affordable to own and operate across a range of mission profiles than systems built to satisfy the most stressing case without refueling. The lessons from AHR certainly extend beyond the HALE flight regime, and insights into non-traditional tanker concepts may offer further operational advantages."

Using this capability, U.S. military Global Hawk UAVS could fly nonstop for days or maybe even weeks.

Source: DARPA

SIDEBAR: Some basic Global Hawk stats courtesy of Northrop Grumman.

Q. How far can Global Hawk fly?

A. It has an inter-continental range (~11,500 miles). This means the aircraft can fly from New York and land anyplace in the world.

Q. How high can Global Hawk fly?

A. About 12 miles high -- an altitude almost twice that of airliners. From this height, you can see over 300 miles to the horizon.

Q. How long can Global Hawk fly?

A. More than 32 hours -- the longest of any high-altitude operational aircraft in the world.

Q. How much can Global Hawk carry?

A. It can carry equipment weighing 3,000 lb -- that's the weight of a Ford Focus.

Published November 2012

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