Archive | July 2018

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.

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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.

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