Australian invention virtual reality fire-fighting system is first of its kind in the world

The FLAIM Trainer™ is a VR system designed to train firefighters. Maxon motor Australia and Dr Karl Walter-Braun tested the FLAIM Trainer at maxon’s Sydney premises. Maxon DC motors are part of the haptic feedback technology creating a realistic kick-back when the fire hose is “turned on”.

Creating real time scenarios to train firefighters is dangerous, expensive, difficult to reproduce, time consuming and not environmentally friendly. But these are necessary to prepare firefighters for the situations they face. To mitigate the risk of these factors, Dr James Mullins, a volunteer fire fighter and a fundamental part of the team within the Institute for Intelligent Systems Research and Innovation (IISRI) at Deakin University, developed the FLAIM Trainer™. This world first invention is an immersive Virtual Reality (VR) system comprising of 14kgs of breathing apparatus including a head mounted VR headset, personal protective clothing with heat generation components, a hose-line with branch/ nozzle and a patented haptics feedback system. Incorporated in the FLAIM Trainer™ is hitoe, a wearable, bio-sensing nano-fibre vest which tracks electrocardiogram readings and transmits these signals to provide real time fitness analysis of the wearer during the exercise. This intimate feedback of the wearer’s reaction to the unstable environment widens the applications reach across emergency services, disaster training, upskilling and education options.

Maxon motor Australia have been working with Dr Mullins to develop the haptic feedback system. Two maxon DC motors are used in the FLAIM Trainer™ system. The DC motors are a compact size providing high power and low torpidity. At their annual board meeting, Dr Karl Walter-Braun and Sales Director Felix Herger from maxon HQ in Switzerland, along with Australian Managing Director Brett Motum and new R&D Robotics Software Integration expert at maxon Australia, Dr Carlos Bacigalupo, got to trial the system with a visit from Dr Mullins. Also fortunate to try out the equipment were some local Berowra NSW Fire Brigade and RFS members. The impressive technology got the thumbs up with the benefit of the system instantaneously recognised by those who’ve experienced on the ground real life situations that the FLAIM Trainer™ simulates. The system is garnering global accolades cementing Australia as a real player in the haptics arena.

For more information on the FLAIM Trainer™ visit the website https://www.flaimsystems.com/ or for information on the DC motors in the application call maxon motor Australia tel. +61 2 9457 7477.

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Brushless DC motor with integrated controller

Unique 5 wire Brushless DC motor with integrated BLDC controller provides a new and more conveniently packaged solution.

New from maxon motor is a brushless DC motor that takes a turn away from the Swiss motor company’s traditional designs. The EC-I 30IE motor features a five wire connection to simplify implementation and still give a wide functionality. An independent set speed value connection allows for a greater motor operating speed range over the common two wire approach to integrated brushless motor control. Additional features are a disable, direction and speed monitor output. It is an enclosed design that does not require any airflow through the body for cooling which makes it suitable for harsh environments typical of various industries such as food, packaging, manufacturing, mining & deep sea drilling and aerospace. Despite the internal motor control board the motor has still been designed with a shaft on both ends of the body for orientation convenience and is still part of the modular construction program allowing the addition of ceramic planetary gearheads (reduction gearboxes). The motor is 30mm diameter and 41mm long including the control unit. It has four quadrant control meaning it can control dynamic acceleration and deceleration in both directions. The controlled top speed is 6000rpm from a 24V supply and the 20W power rating indicates a high power density ratio.

For more information contact maxon motor Australia tel. +61 2 9457 7477.

Micro DC motor perfectly adapted

This very small DC micromotor has morphed into a perfect application solution. It is in fact, a brushed DC motor, planetary gearhead and magnetic encoder customised to suit the application.

Being only 10mm diameter it requires close inspection to notice the unique changes that have been made to the motor solution. Through extensive and vigorous testing the design engineers for the end application have individually examined and “tweaked” almost every feature. The first prototypes delivered used a standard maxon RE10 motor and GP10 planetary gearhead. It was found that the extremely space constrained location where the motor is mounted required the assembly technicians to tightly bend the cables where they exited the digital encoder. This caused strain on the solder terminations of the encoder PCB. maxon quickly implemented the customers following request for a resin to be applied at the cable exit to assist with strain relief. This assisted to an extent by making the motor design more robust however it was what is commonly referred to as a “band-aid solution”. Further testing revealed the true cause of the cable strain came about because of an unspecified cable exit angle with relation to the customer fitted custom front flange for the motor. Also further exacerbated by the screw on mounting assembly between the motor and gearhead that allowed for various angle of orientation that were torque dependent. This in a small number of occasions caused the cable to interfere with other components in the machine. A solution offered by maxon motor Australia was that at the point of motor fabrication, the front motor mounting flange and customer drive element be laser welded in place. This is difficult enough to achieve given the motors micro dimensions but additional drastic changes had to be made to facilitate the customisation. This being a completely redesigned gearbox with a stainless steel construction to enable welding of the flange to the motor body. A special jig was constructed to hold the motor and encoder cable exit in specific orientation with the front flange whilst welding takes place to ensure consistent part relationship. Thus, over time maxon motor have morphed a standard catalogue motor and gearhead into a perfectly suited custom solution.

Contact maxon motor Australia at their Sydney office on Ph: +61 2 9457 7477.

New functionality from maxon’s EPOS4 Compact DC motor positioning controller

Unlocking new opportunities for a range of applications, Maxon’s EPOS4 Compact series motor controller can now be incorporated into EtherCAT networks.

Maxons compact controllers now speak another language: the new EtherCAT models comply with the CoE standard (CAN application layer over EtherCAT) and can be easily integrated into existing EtherCAT networks.

The new, intelligent motion controllers with realtime communication offer a simple, plug-and-play solution for controlling brushed DC and brushless EC motors with peak currents of up to 30A. With their modular design, they are particularly suited to applications with single or multi-axis systems in small devices and machines as well as robotics.

Also available is an extensive range of accessories to make the connection and integration process as seamless and easy to use as possible. Besides the intuitive “EPOS Studio” software, Windows DLL and Linux Shared Objects Libraries are also freely available for incorporating the controllers into a variety of master systems. As well, a detailed range of product documents are readily available.

The versatile EtherCAT controllers are available immediately in two power versions: 50V/8A and 50V/15A. Other variants in the Compact series (EPOS4 Compact 24/1.5 EtherCAT & EPOS4 Compact 50/5 EtherCAT) will be available by the end of 2018.

For more information about maxon‘s EPOS controllers visit epos.maxonmotor.com or contact maxon motor Australia tel. +61 2 9457 7477.

Let light shine down on Opportunity.

Almost one year to this day 15 years ago, NASA Rover Opportunity embarked on its journey to Mars.

NASA Engineers have been trying to reach the Opportunity Rover in recent weeks, however due to a heavy and persistent sandstorm they haven’t been able to make contact. It’s assumed the batteries have fallen below 24V causing the machine to enter into standby mode. It needs sunlight to recharge the batteries to “wake up” the computer and resume communications.

Opportunity’s six wheels are driven by maxon DC motors. There are 35 drive systems with diameters of 20mm and 25mm for the rover. The maxon motors in the wheels, for example, did more than 78 million revolutions each, under extreme environmental conditions and temperature fluctuations from -120 to +25ºC. The practicalities and knowledge from this successful project are being transferred across developments of new motors that will soon fly to Mars on forthcoming missions by NASA and ESA. “Opportunity has braved many minor and major sand storms over the years and has always managed to recover its energy. We have no doubt that our motors will also run without trouble afterwards,” says maxon CEO Eugen Elmiger.

For more information on DC motors to suit harsh environment applications please contact maxon motor tel. +61 2 9457 7477.

A robot that hops.

maxon brushless frameless DC motors are used in a semi-autonomous prototype that can hop upstairs.

A robot that can balance and move on two wheels is being developed by a team of students at ETH Zurich. Named the Ascento, it is a bi-pedal robot that adapts to different environments and terrains with the explicit purpose to hop upstairs. Similar to a Sedgeway the centre of gravity is above the axis thus the robot can balance on two wheels and move, as long as it is powered by a controlled device. Equipped with sensors the Ascento can 3D scan a room and calculate the required height and length of jumps to take. Powered by two maxon EC 90 flat brushless frameless DC motors in the wheels, the motors give high torque and precise control that allow a jumping and balancing action, such as that of landing on a narrow step. maxon deliver the rotor and stator separately without an output shaft. This gives the researchers the flexibility to integrate the DC motors into the application and joint structure without compromising on space. Each motor is driven by a compact EPOS4 module motor controller. The potential for the prototype is in building inspections that are at risk of collapse or on fire, for example.

For more information on brushless frameless DC motors for robotic joint applications please contact maxon motor Australia tel. +61 2 9457 7477.

2017: a year of record growth for the maxon motor group

Global DC motor and drive specialist maxon motor has recorded growth across innovation, markets, revenue and production in 2017.

Sachseln/Obwalden (Switzerland) – The maxon motor group accomplished record revenues in 2017reporting a rise by 8.6% to CHF 459 million (up from CHF 422.5 million in the previous year). All markets contributed to the growth. Cash flow increased to just under CHF 50 million (up from 41.7 million). The number of employees globally increased to 2577. At a 40% revenue share, medical technology continues to be the strongest sector, followed by industrial automation at 28%. With R&D investments of CHF 34 million and more than 360 employees in our R&D sites worldwide, maxon has succeeded in bringing more than 20 new motors and gearheads to market and expand the company’s position as a leading manufacturer of high-quality drive components and systems. maxon looks to the future with confidence.

The impetus of growth behind maxon is mainly from the innovative precision DC motors and drives with high efficiency as well as the matching electronics for controlling complex motion sequences. The company produces in Sachseln/CH, Sexau/GER, Veszprém/HU, Cheonan/South Korea, and soon at its new factory in Taunton near Boston/USA. In addition to the sites above, R&D facilities are also located in China, France, and the Netherlands.

Growth in all markets worldwide

The biggest market in Europe is Germany, followed by Switzerland and the UK. Italy and the Iberian peninsula also grew markedly. After some years of stagnation, a strong growth has also picked up in the US. In Asia, maxon achieved new records in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. In China, maxon has seen double-digit growth over the past years. “The revenue increase by 100 million over four years has posed a great challenge to us as a company in regard to quality and service. Owing to our highly trained employees, we have been able to master this challenge successfully,” says majority shareholder Karl-Walter Braun.

20 + new products released in 2017 alone

One in seven maxon employees works in research and development. As a result of these steadily expanding capabilities, maxon launched more than 20 new electric motors, gearheads, encoders and controllers in the past year. In aerospace, the motors work at temperatures as low as -130°C, while ESA’s Mercury Planetary Orbiter space probe has to withstand temperatures of more than 350°C on its flight toward the sun. In 2020, high-performance maxon motors will be used in two rover missions by ESA and NASA, after having run for more than 15 years in the hostile Mars environment despite a scheduled service life of only a few weeks.

“Our ‘Mission 2020’ strategy for growth, which we launched years ago with the goal of achieving forward integration of drive systems, is showing some initial success,” says Eugen Elmiger, CEO of maxon motor group. “For example, we’ve been able to secure a large order for pump systems to reduce nitrous gas emissions in Diesel cars in the highly competitive automotive market. We also drove forward the development of complete surgical power tools, as well as micro-pump systems used in minimal invasive cardiac surgery.” Eugen Elmiger also expects healthy growth for the user-friendly and efficient high-performance multi-axis controllers made by zub, a company acquired by maxon last year.

Looking ahead: a strong start

The first months of the new year were characterised by strong growth across the group. Pending orders and revenues exceed the figures of the previous year. Due to the overall economic development, the company expects growth to slow down somewhat in the second half of the year. “We will approach further expansion with the necessary caution,” says Karl-Walter Braun.

For further information please contact maxon motor Australia tel. +61 2 9457 7477.

Ambulance E-bikes in a remote African village

In first world countries we take for granted how easy a journey can be to access emergency health care. In a small town in Mozambique, Health Organisation SolidarMed has teamed up with maxon motor to retrofit two Ambulance bikes with maxon’s BIKEDRIVE.

Across dirt roads in a remote town in Northern Africa, pushbikes with special trailers are what is used to transport pregnant women and other patients to the closest health centre. Ambassador for SolidarMed and Olympic Mountain Bike Champion, Nino Schurter, visited the town and tested the bike trailers “I’m an elite athlete, but even I would find it hard to pull the heavy trailer with the patient on it” he said. Maxon motor is supporting SolidarMeds E-bike Ambulance project with two BIKEDRIVE retrofitting kits. The kits are fitted to prototypes that will be tested & developed over two years, and evaluated at the end of 2019. If the project is a success, SolidarMed is looking to expand the E-bike Ambulance project across the entire region.

For further information on maxon’s BIKEDRIVE visit www.maxonbikedrive.com/ or call +61 2 9457 7477.

For more information on SolidarMed’s project in Mozambique, please visit www.solidarmed.ch/en/countries/mocambique

Unlocking the secrets of the spine.

Research and development into the spinal cord has taken an unconventional approach at The Swiss Institute of Technology.

Our brain is the central processing unit of our motor skills and functions. But it does not control our physical movements alone. The contribution that our spinal cord makes to our physical actions has driven two investigative questions from a team at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne – How do these motor circuits work and what is the underlying control mechanisms for the movement of vertebrates? To better understand the secrets of the spinal cord, they have a dedicated Lab, called the Biorobotics Laboratory or Biorob for short. Here, they build robots to better understand mobility in living beings, drawing inspiration from many different animals where motor control happens mostly in the spinal cord. From this they built a robot called the Pleurobot, based on a Salamander. Powered by 27 maxon brushless frameless DC motors the robot can move on land and in water seamlessly mimicking the actions of the amphibian. Primarily its use is to assist with understanding how the nervous system in a spinal chord operates and will assist research in the neurosciences and biomechanical fields contributing to neuroprosthetics and paraplegia therapies.

For further information contact maxon motor Australia Tel. +61 2 9457 7477 or visit the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology’s BioRob Page – Pleurobot.

Nature inspiring robotics

For many, many years nature has inspired engineers in evolving and enhancing technology to create powerful and proficient robots. Here are some examples of current creative developments.

Birds, Dogs, Snakes and Elephants are just some of the animals inspiring mechatronic engineers to design state of the art robots. Here maxon takes a closer look.

The bionic bird A French company has developed a bionic bird toy that can be controlled with a smartphone. A lightweight 9 grams, the bird can achieve speeds of up to 20 km/h and has a range covering more than 100 metres. The bird presents an alternative to propeller drones.

bionic bird

ANYmal Engineers at ETH Zurich developed a four-legged robot that was made for very harsh conditions and can move autonomously. Since its inception in 2009, ANYmal has evolved into machine that can conquer inclines, run, jump and press elevator buttons. Using laser sensors and cameras, the robot continuously creates a map of its terrain, knows where it is and navigates through the changing landscape. Weighing around 30 kg it can carry a payload up to 10kg and run for 2 hours on a fully charged battery. The future use for the ANYmal is expected for inspections, rescue operations or the entertainment industry.

anymal

The underwater snake

A modular underwater robot snake has been developed for use in inspections, maintenance and repair work reaching distances and places that conventional underwater robots are unable to reach. The robot is flexible and has moving connecting parts with the option of mounting tools. Inside the connecting modules are maxon brushless DC motors with customised gearheads. The underwater robot has been in constant development for 10 years with the current model reliant on a cable. Future versions include keeping the robot on the bottom of the ocean indefinitely at a docking station from where it can launch into action when needed.

underwater snake

SnakeBot

This robot was named so because it moves like a snake. With a diameter of 6cm it can fit into narrow spaces making it suitable for inspection in unstable environments such as after earthquakes. With independent modules the SnakeBot can also climb up plant legs and posts. There are approx.. 20 maxon EC20 flat brushless motors in the snake, selected for both their high torque and ability to withstand short periods of overload.

snakebot

BionicMotionRobot

This robot is modelled on an octopus’s tentacles and elephant’s trunk. With skin made of innovative fibre technology this robot offers flexible movement that can bend in three different directions at the same time. The robot is pneumatic and lightweight with 12 degrees of freedom and can carry up to three kilos of payload.

octophant

For further information on any of these examples please contact maxon motor Australia tel. +61 2 9457 7477.

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