The robot named DARwIn-OP (Dynamic Anthropomorphic Robot with Intelligence-Open Platform) is used mainly for research and education purposes. The user can easily program the robot according to his own wishes, as the system is based on open source. The very quick and precise movements of the robot are executed by maxon motors.
The robot is approx. 45 cm high, is equipped with sophisticated sensors and is able to perform dynamic movements. For example, it can walk very fast (24 cm/s and more), it can speak and listen, run processes, can balance itself and works fully autonomously. One of its biggest hobbies is playing soccer. In June 2012, Team Darwin conquered 24 international teams and won the RoboCup in Mexico City.
The special feature of the humanoid robot is its open, modular structure that makes changes very easy. DARwIn-OP is a completely open platform; both the hardware and the software can be customised in any way desired and various software implementations are possible (C ++, Python, LabVIEW, MATLAB, etc.). Furthermore, all CAD data for the robot components and instructions for manufacturing and assembly are available online, free of charge. A computer has been built into the humanoid robot; like a normal PC, it is equipped with all customary ports such as Ethernet, USB and HDMI. Thanks to the USB camera integrated in its head, it can locate objects and thus also detect the ball during a game of soccer
DARwIn-OP was developed by the “Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory” of Virginia Tech (RoMeLa), with the support of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and in cooperation with the University of Pennsylvania, Purdue University and the South Korean company ROBOTIS. The mini robot is based on the award-winning Darwin series which is being developed ever since 2004. ROBOTIS is to thank for the very high mobility of the robot.
The company manufacturers the so-called Dynamixel actuators, which are used by numerous universities and research centers all around the world in the development of their own robots. Dynamixel actuators are smart actuators with fully integrated DC motors and are produced exclusively for robots. They are characterised by high precision, top quality and a wide functionality range. These all-in-one drive modules with built-in controllers are equipped with numerous feedback functions (position detection, velocity, input voltage, internal temperature) that are controlled via a network. The Dynamixel actuators are programmed by means of RoboPlus, the free graphic programming software of ROBOTIS. DARwIn-OP is a very good example of how intelligent a robot can act with the aid of the actuators.
The drive modules are used in the production of robotic arms, mobile robots as well as humanoid robots. Each Dynamixel unit is equipped with a maxon RE-max motor. The implemented RE-max motors achieve a high performance of 0.75 to 22 W, thanks to their neodymium magnets. Three different versions of the maxon motors are used in the small robot. One of these is the RE-max24, which has been specially modified for this application by adapting the drive pinion. A total of 20 Dynamixel MX-28T units can be found in the DARwIn-OP robot — twelve for the arms, six for the legs and two for the movements of the neck. Robotis chose maxon motors because, although they are small and light-weight, they are very powerful and simultaneously very robust with a long service life.
The robot is supplied with power by means of a rechargeable battery. The DARwIn-OP weighs 2.9 kg and can go through its wide range of motions for 30 minutes on a single battery charge. It can even stand on its head. Three gyro sensors (balance sensor module) make sure that it does not lose its balance.
The flawless launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on May 22, 2012 is another successful step for maxon motor ag in the use of high precision motors in the astronautics industry. The crucial tasks of the maxon motors in the SpaceX mission included orienting the solar arrays of the Dragon spacecraft towards the sun to provide the power supply.
The first private cargo capsule in the history of space travel was launched into space on May 22, 2012 from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.The voyage of the unmanned “Dragon“ spacecraft, developed by the Californian company SpaceX, was a historical event for all involved. Never before has a private company developed a combined spacecraft and launch system that is capable of undertaking an orbital rendezvous and then returning to earth.
Brushless maxon motors for mission-critical tasks EC maxon motors were used on the voyage to the ISS to rotate the solar arrays to keep them aligned with the sun as Dragon orbited the earth, open the instrument bay door which contains navigation equipment, and lock in place the fixture that allows Dragon to be grappled by the space station’s robotic arm.
On May 25, 2012, astronaut Donald Pettit successfully used the 17.6 metre robotic arm of the ISS to grapple the Dragon and guide it to the docking point on the space station. The 4.4 metre tall Dragon spacecraft supplied 520kg (1146 pounds) of scientific equipment and food to the ISS. On May 31, the six ton capsule detached from the ISS and splashed down under parachutes in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California on the same day. The capsule was returning 660 kg (1455 pounds) of material from the ISS. Now that NASA has phased out its space
shuttle program, the Dragon is the only means of transporting such large quantities of material back to earth. The maxon team has been working on the SpaceX motor project for the last year. This is a milestone in the history of maxon, and the story isn’t over yet, as NASA has contracted with SpaceX for another twelve flights to the ISS. In a few years, the spacecraft will carry seven astronauts to the international space station.
For maxon motor, this latest flight is a major step forwards in the future of commercial aerospace applications.
With the Mars rovers Opportunity and Spirit, maxon motor has previously demonstrated that maxon motors function flawlessly, even in outer space and on other planets. “We recognised the significance of what SpaceX were trying to achieve when they first approached us for motors several years ago. Our participation demonstrates that our standard industrial motors now have the technological sophistication that enables them to function in the critical roles needed for the success of this ground breaking mission,” explained Robin Phillips and Kornelia Stubicar, the two managers of the SpaceX motor project at maxon who, together with their team, implemented the development of the Dragon motors.
Would you like your position controller with 1, 5 or 11 axis?
Now available from maxon motor ag is the completely innovative modular system position controller that is available globally in any number of axis up to 11. The unique system allows either the user or supplier to simply snap off an axis. The 11 axis motherboard features a unique perforated or breakout design that is both robust enough for OEM integration but also features a cut point for separation down to smaller drive number configuration. So if maxon have a request for a 4 axis control unit they simply take the 11 axis controller and divide it into a 7 axis and 4 axis. The 4 axis unit is sent to a customer and the leftover 7 are put on the shelf for the next application for 7 or less axis.
To drastically reduce cabling requirements for power and communications the controller system features and internal CAN bus system that simply jumps the segments of the motherboard allowing a single connection at the start of the motherboard that can be easily separated at any point. Every segment features a BUS termination resistor that can be selected if it is the last node on the CAN line. Power is also carried down the motherboard system and across the breakout points by jumpers.
Each unit is supplied with a powerful software configuration suite that features a user friendly graphical interface for drive configuration and auto tuning of the motion control card with your selected motor. With this interface you can see all axis in your machine and freely adjust the parameters of each. The motherboard features a USB and RS232 gateway for easy connection and setup and is supplied with leads and optional longer pre-configured cables.
Today, various microassembly tasks present ever greater challenges to drive technology. Whereas the microcomponents and systems are continuously getting smaller, the development of production systems in macroscopic dimensions is frequently left behind. A Swiss company has revolutionised the market with an entire product family of Delta robots. Strong maxon motors ensure high-precision dynamic movements.
Asyril, a company from western Switzerland, specialises in the development and integration of mechatronic systems for fast and flexible automatic handling of small components, for example microscale components for micro, nano and bio technology. The company was founded by microrobotics specialist Dr. Alain Codourey in 2007 and builds on the technological know-how of CSEM and the CPA group. The founding of the company was preceded by the core question of whether it is possible to build a microrobot with a size of 100 x 100 x 100 mm3 and what the ideal kinematics would be for such a robot. As early as 10 years ago, researchers at CSEM (Swiss Centre for Electronics and Microtechnology) noticed the increasing discrepancy between microcomponents getting ever smaller yet the size of the production systems staying constant. Whereas the mechanical structures of a robot is relatively easy to miniaturise, the same only holds true for drives to a limited degree: “In conventional systems, the motors remain very large in comparison to the mechanical components. As a result, the conventional kinematics of — for example — articulated arm robots are also unsuitable, because large motors are still required in the joints,” explains Dr. Alain Codourey.
To find a solution for this increasing discrepancy, microrobotics specialist Codourey and his research team at CSEM and at the Engineering and Information Technology department of the Bern University of Applied Sciences in Biel started looking for systems that are more suitable for handling microtechnical components. “In the end, we came to the conclusion that parallel kinematic structures are the most promising for our purpose,” explains Codourey.
With this objective in mind, the idea of a parallel kinematic axle system was perfected first. To keep the mass inertia as low as possible, all components are kept as delicate and light-weight as possible. A large advantage of the Delta configuration is the fact that, although the maxon motors are responsible for the movement of the kinematic elements, the motors themselves are not moved. Instead, the motors are attached to the support frame and transmit the movement directly to the structure. This engineering principle has been implemented in an entire range of Delta robots: The “Desktop Delta”, “Power Delta” and “Pocket Delta” have all been designed according to the same basic principle.
Slimline drive technology for microassembly
Not only the mechanical components had to slim down — the sizes of the drives themselves were also reduced. Instead of oversized motors with high power and correspondingly high heat emission, the Pocket Delta uses space-saving micromotors of maxon motor. The parallel mechanism of the robot is driven by three EC-i 40 motors that are all mounted to a plate above the robot. This means that the mass to be moved is very low; as a result, the robot is highly dynamic. The Pocket Delta needs 0.33 s for a single pick-and-place cycle and can thus complete three cycles per second. Thanks to the high rigidity of the kinematic structure, the robot has a repeat accuracy of less than 3 micrometers.
The brushless DC motors have a diameter of only 40 mm and a power of 50 W. To ensure that the Delta robot is not only fast, but also precise, the angle position of the motor has to be measured with high precision. The micromotors are therefore connected directly to high-resolution rotary encoders for position detection. Furthermore, each motor is equipped with a holding brake designed by Asyril. Small pins hold the motor shafts by means of a spring. During operation of the robot, these pins are pulled away by means of electromagnets to release the brake. The robot controller is fully integrated into the robot and the communication takes place via an Ethernet interface. With the features it provides, the miniature robot is especially suited to tasks that involve quickly moving or assembling tiny components. It is one of the fastest and most precise robots in its category. Another advantage of the chosen design is that no gearhead is required for the Pocket Delta.
The Pocket Delta Robots are used in various industries. However, its main talent is sorting, selecting and machining microcomponents in the watch industry. This solution is suitable for assembling nearly all components in mechanical clockwork, for example screws, rivets, pins or gears. But the Pocket Delta is also used in the field of medical technology and in the electronics and semiconductor industries. The components to be moved are typically between 0.5 and 15 millimetres in size.