Archive | October 2019

Roger Frigola from Emirates Team New Zealand inspires maxon.

Roger Frigola, Optimisation Engineer at Emirates Team New Zealand, presented to the maxon global Group at their annual management meeting in Brunnen, Switzerland on the 18 September, 2019.

maxon Group were delighted to welcome Roger Frigola (MSc Aerospace Engineering and PhD Artificial Intelligence) from Emirates Team New Zealand at their annual management meeting. In their capacity as Official Supplier to Emirates Team New Zealand, maxon Group received insight into the process and technicalities of designing the AC75 Class yacht. For the current America’s Cup campaign, the design process began in 2018 with the publication of the Class Rule that states specific design parameters set out by the Deed of Gift. Roger has been involved in the America’s Cup since 2014 and has experience in the McLaren F1, Ferrari F1, Porsche Le Mans and Red Bull F1 Motorsports.

Emirates Team New Zealand: Current Defenders of the America’s Cup

The America’s Cup is the world’s oldest trophy in international sport, captivating the world since its inception in 1851. Emirates Team New Zealand are three times winner, current Defenders of the America’s Cup and the first non-American competitor to successfully defend the trophy. It would appear to remain that if you won the America’s Cup you would stay with the same type of boat. This isn’t the case for Emirates Team New Zealand, who created a New Class of Yacht – the AC75. Innovation is key and the entire concept was proven only through use of a simulator without any prototypes. The Challengers have developed smaller boats and tested them, but Emirates Team New Zealand placed their trust in the simulation and the team of people working behind the scenes.

For the new AC75 Class of Yacht, Emirates Team New Zealand designed the system that all the teams use to raise and lower the foils. The Design & Engineering Team also work with HP using 3-D printed components for the Yacht.

The team

A support team of more than 150 people contribute expertise from across many disciplines. There is the crew of 11 sailors (8 of those are grinders) and around 25 people within the design and engineering team including naval architects, structural and mechanical engineers, simulators and software developers. Then there is the shore people, boat builders, marketing, media, lawyers, accounting, physiotherapists, trainers and cooks.

AC36: a new rule

One method of gathering data for the performance of the Yacht and the Sailors was to test through physical experiments in wind tunnels or towing tanks. However this America’s Cup campaign is the first to prohibit any experimental testing in wind tunnels or towing tanks. This new concept and Yacht design has been modelled on physics with design by optimisation. The results of the simulation data were then compared to the actual boat reactions with testing on and off the water looking closely at safety issues, strains, stress loads etc. The Computational fluid dynamics (the examination of fluid flow in accordance with its physical properties such as velocity, pressure, temperature, density and viscosity) were modelled on the conditions of a wind tunnel. The amount of data that is collected is so large it’s stored across 8 HP desktop machines.

The members of the Design & Engineering Team spend the majority of their time on the Chase Boat, analysing real-time data from the AC75 yacht test runs. The thousands of gigabytes per day that are captured are compared against the computational physics from the simulation data and used in the build of the second boat that will sail in the America’s Cup.

The America’s Cup World Series, Sardinia, April 2020

All teams will meet for the first time between April 23-26, 2020 with the America’s Cup World Series kicking off in Cagliari, Sardinia. The fearlessness with adopting innovation and confidence placed in the simulation, combined with the knowledge, skills and enthusiasm of Emirates Team New Zealand – not to mention the backing from Sponsors, Official Suppliers and Supporters – advocate strongly the retention of Current Defender of the America’s Cup. The prowess of the AC75’s will be on full display and we eagerly await seeing the boat racing to its full potential.

maxon motor Australia is an Official Supplier to Emirates Team New Zealand. We follow the progress of their journey as Defender in the 36th America’s Cup campaign, to be held in Auckland, New Zealand in March 2021.

maxon motor Australia | tel. +61 2 9457 7477.

Update: America’s Cup

No wrong answers?

With four AC75s now successfully launched and actively foiling, what have we learned about the outcomes of the various design strategies chosen by each of the teams for their first-generation boats?

One thing seems clear – that there is more than one way of creating a 75-foot monohull that flies above the water on foils – a fact evidenced by the four distinctly different looking yachts that the teams have independently come up with.

There are so many ways to compare and contrast just how different all four boats look. For instance, the cigar-shaped bow of American Magic’s Defiance and the striking cutaway foredeck and slab sides of Ineos Team UK’s Britannia.

Then there is the comparatively flat bottoms of the American’s and British boats compared to the rounded and v-shaped longitudinal ‘bustles’ underneath the Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli boats respectively.

The closer you look the more the differences you find, and it is tempting to oversimplify things by falling back on the comfortable, well-worn adage that: “Somebody is going to be right, and somebody is going to be wrong”.

But is that really the case? What if in fact – at this stage – nobody is 100 per cent right, or 100 per cent wrong?

Given that all four teams have been up and foiling on these revolutionary boats within days on launching them, isn’t it possible that all four have come up with competitive designs – the performance of which may vary only marginally based on weather conditions and the speed with which the crews get to grips with sailing them?

Although the teams and their spies will have a gut feeling for who amongst them is fast or slow and in what conditions, they will be keeping that information close to their chest right now.

That means that the rest of us will have to wait six months until the teams all come together for the first time for four days of racing at the opening act of the America’s Cup World Series in Cagliari, Sardinia next April 23 – 26 to learn who – if anyone – has stolen a march on the rest.

For now though we can happily continue to pore over every photograph the teams release and squint as we step frame-by-frame through their videos for evidence to support our speculative theories about what the crews are trying out as they battle to get master their AC75s.

However, the reality is that there are so many differences between the four boats that we cannot hope to see even if we were charging alongside in a chase boat.

Those are the hidden differences in the systems that control the flaps on the foils, that determine the constantly shifting 3-D aerodynamic shape of the ground-breaking double-skinned mainsails, and a myriad of other complex elements that make up these highly technological AC75s.

How to effectively balance the complexity and functionality of these systems with the overall reliability of the boat will no doubt be high on the list of problems keeping the design teams and the sailors awake at night.

We may not get to know much about those critical concepts before this 36th edition of the America’s Cup is all played out, but they could easily prove to be the difference between success and failure when the competitive phase begins.

One question that is yet to be definitively answered concerns the crew logistics when manoeuvring the AC75s. Given the centrally divided cockpits on all four boats and the trend towards deck-sweeper mainsails, who amongst the crew will be changing sides and how will they be doing it.

With 11 on the crew, clearly not everyone is going to be running from one side to the other on the tacks and the gybes. Some teams are rumoured to be moving just a handful of sailors each time, while others – it is believed – are experimenting with two helmsman, one on either side of the boat.

It’s a radical approach for sure, but given that the team that can keep its boat in the air the most in a race will likely emerge the winner, it is a technique that is likely well worth trying.

 

THE AC75 CLASS

Click here to find out the parameters within which teams can design a yacht eligible to compete in the 36th America’s Cup.

maxon motor Australia is an Official Supplier to Emirates Team New Zealand. We follow the progress of their journey as Defender in the 36th America’s Cup campaign, March 2021.

 

 

Update: Emirates Team New Zealand

Junior Data Acquisition / Mechatronics Engineer wanted.

Emirates Team New Zealand are looking for a talented and enthusiastic electronics, mechatronics or mechanical engineer to contribute to the development and calibration of sensors and data acquisition systems on Emirates Team New Zealand’s race yacht that will defend the America’s Cup in 2021.

Sensors are a massive part of the competition: from helping to control the systems on yacht, to providing the instruments that guide the sailors, and collecting data for designers to analyse, we need to excel across all areas to be competitive.

You will be working with Emirates Team New Zealand’s design and build team, an extremely talented group of engineers, boat builders and technicians that cover many disciplines. We are a team, not a company, and this isn’t a typical nine-to-five… you will need to be committed and hard-working, and the rewards in seeing your work contribute to sailing success will give you job satisfaction you won’t find elsewhere.

You will be involved with the specification, manufacture, testing and calibration of a wide range of electronic systems and benefit from the experience of an existing small team of very skilled engineers. Despite being a small group with a unique focus, we are serious about accuracy, sensors and electronics; we are keen to use the latest technologies, and we work to very high standards.

The role:

  • Work with design engineers to understand sensor requirements.
  • Research instrumentation options and test new equipment.
  • Manage the calibration of sensors, including load cells, IMUs, cameras, fibre optic strain sensors.
  • Provide on-the-water support of sensors as required.
  • Adapt as required through the campaign!

Depending on your specific skills, you could also be involved in:

  • Design and prototyping in-house electronics and electrical devices
  • Design of mechanical parts for sensors or sailor input devices, including 3D printing
  • Development of software we run on the yacht for processing sensor data
  • Development of software for live and historic display of sensor data (JavaScript React)
  • Development of PLC code that controls the hydraulic systems on the yacht (we use Beckhoff)

What we’re looking for:

  • A degree in electronics, mechatronics, or mechanical engineering
  • If you are an electrical engineer, a good understanding and intuition of mechanical systems, calibration and measurement
  • If you are a mechanical engineer, some experience in electronics and/or software development
  • Talent, commitment and an enthusiasm for mechatronics.
  • A meticulous eye for detail and a love of being organised.
  • Ability to work and communicate well within a team, but not need 24-7 supervision.
  • Ability to work under pressure, and work long hours when required.
  • NZ citizen or existing work permit.
  • Someone who can start by the end of November.

To apply visit the Emirates Team New Zealand website or Seek.

 maxon motor Australia is an Official Supplier to Emirates Team New Zealand. We follow the progress of their journey as Defender in the 36th America’s Cup campaign, March 2021.

 

Sensorless control of brushless motors.

Many applications would benefit from a brushless motor without a sensor. A method developed by maxon is now setting new standards for precision and reliability.

Driving a brushless motor requires control electronics for precise commutation. However, this is possible only if the control electronics “know” the exact position of the rotor at all times. Traditionally, this information was provided by sensors, e.g. Hall sensors, installed inside the motor. But it can be done differently. Sensorless control methods use current and voltage information from the motor to determine the rotor position. The motor speed can then be derived from changes in the rotor position, and this information can be used for speed control. More advanced sensorless control methods can even control the current (torque) and the position. Leaving out the sensors has a range of benefits, such a lower cost and space savings, because cables, connectors, and sensitive electronic circuits become unnecessary.

Sensorless controllers by maxon use three basic principles that are adapted specifically to maxon BLDC motors.

Principle 1: EMF method with zero crossing

The EMF method with determination of the zero crossing uses induced voltage (or EMF) in the non-powered phase during block commutation. The zero crossing happens in the middle of the commutation interval (fig. 1). The time delay to the next commutation point can be estimated from the preceding commutation steps.

The EMF method with zero crossing works only when the speed is high enough, because EMF becomes zero at standstill. Starting up the motor requires a special process, similar to step motor control, and must be configured separately. True sensorless commutation is possible only with motor speeds of 500–1000 rpm and up. The commutation step frequency is used for speed control. The limited feedback information puts some constraints on the motor dynamics, although this can be improved by integrating estimation methods into the control algorithm (observer, Kalman filter, etc.). The EMF method with zero crossing also has a range of benefits: It works for all brushless motor models, and it’s robust and cost-effective. The approach is used in many standard products, such as the maxon ESCON Module 50/4 EC-S.

Principle 2: Observer-based EMF method

Observer or model-based EMF methods use information about the motor current to determine rotor position and speed. The model-based approach yields a much higher resolution of the rotor position. This enables sinusoidal commutation (or FOC, field-oriented control), with all its benefits: Higher efficiency, lower heat generation, less vibration and noise. However, the observer-based EMF method also requires a minimum speed of several 100 rpm to function properly.

Principle 3: Magnetic anisotropy methods

Methods based on magnetic anisotropy deduce the rotor position from the motor inductance, which is minimal when the magnetic flows of the rotor and the stator are in parallel in the magnetic return (fig. 2). Measurement is achieved by means of brief current pulses, which do not cause the motor to move. Unlike EMF-based methods, this method also works at standstill or very low speeds, and it permits sinusoidal commutation. The measured signals are highly dependent on the motor type. The rotor position is determined in a model of the motor, which needs to be parameterised and adapted for each motor. Controllers based on magnetic anisotropy are therefore highly specific products – “plug and play” is not an option. The computation effort required for evaluating the rotor position also limits the maximum speed.

Why sensorless control?

In price-sensitive applications, the use of sensorless motors may reduce the cost. Hall sensors, encoders, cables, and connectors become unnecessary. Typical applications in this field are fans, pumps, scanners, mills, drills, and other fast-turning applications with a relatively modest control performance that do not require a tightly controlled start-up. For high quantities, a customised version of the EMF-based controller makes sense.

Cost optimisation for high control performance

Cost savings aren’t the only reason to choose sensorless control. Applications like door drives or bike drives require high controller performance. Jerk-free motor control from zero rpm is important, as are high dynamics and sinusoidal commutation for noise avoidance. All this needs to be realised without using an expensive encoder. Over the last few years, high-quality sensorless controllers based on the anisotropy method have become established, including maxon’s new High Performance Sensorless Control (HPSC, see below). However, the engineering effort required for adapting the model parameters can only be justified for quantities upward of a few hundred.

Rough ambient conditions

Sensorless control may also be required in situations where vulnerable sensor electronics need to be avoided in a motor. Examples include applications in very high or low ambient temperatures, cleaning and sterilisation in medical technology, or ionising radiation in space, nuclear facilities, or medical settings. The lower number of motor connectors also makes integration easier if space is limited.

The required control quality depends on the application. Which sensorless method fits best must be decided on a case by case basis. For example, hand-held dental tools for drilling or grinding need high speeds, while lower speeds and controlled torque are required for fixing screws in surgery.

Conclusion

There are three main reasons for choosing sensorless control: Cost savings, space savings, and operation in environments unfavorable to sensors. The EMF method with zero crossing determination is widespread in cost-sensitive applications that run at high speeds. Sensorless control from standstill and at low speeds requires more advanced methods. The implementation effort is greater and includes modelling and parameterisation. Cost savings are secondary. Field-oriented control yields a higher efficiency, less heat build-up, and a lower vibration and noise level. All these are advantages that come to bear especially in hand-held medical devices.

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

 

maxon sensorless controllers

The HPSC Module 24/5 (High Performance Sensorless Control) is a new development from maxon, it is a platform of hardware and customer-specific software. HPSC is always a customised solution and therefore not a catalogue product.

What’s special about this development: At standstill and at low speeds, magnetic anisotropy-based control technology is used first (principle 3). Then, when the speed is higher, a smooth transition to an observer-based EMF method (principle 2) follows. The module’s firmware is customised for every drive system. In a special tuning process, more than 120 parameters are automatically adjusted to each motor’s “fingerprint.” An example of the use of HPSC is the hand-held medical tool developed recently by maxon.

The ESCON Module 50/4 EC-S is the only sensorless controller from maxon that is listed in the product catalogue (block commutation with EMF method and zero crossing determination). The Sensorless Controller 24/1 is an alternative for the smallest EC motors (up to about 10 mm diameter). However, it is not listed in the catalogue or the e-shop.

 

Fig.1Fig.2

A mechatronic orthosis glove, for restoring mobility to the hand after an accident or stroke.

A specially developed glove with maxon DC motors provides strength and mobility to the wearer.

Two medical engineers have created a glove that restores mobility to the wearer’s fingers. The mechatronic orthosis, called the exomotion® hand one, is in its testing phase and available soon to the market. The exomotion® hand one is worn like a glove and consists of custom-fitted exo-finger mechanics, a supporting forearm splint, a sensor, a control unit, and four miniature drives that provide the power to open or close the wearer’s fingers. Six types of grip are available, restoring freedom of movement that may have  been lost as a result of accident, stroke or degenerative disease.

The hand orthosis was developed by Dominik Hepp and Tobias Knobloch, both medical engineers. They first met in university, where they both focused on this issue and founded start-up company HKK Bionics, in 2017. The two men hope to close a gap with their development: “We offer patients with fully or partially paralysed hands an aid than helps them to perform everyday tasks on their own again,” explains Dominik Hepp. Simple tasks like cooking, carrying shopping bags and opening packages will soon become part of the wearer’s daily routine again. “With an aid that is suitable for everyday use, these people can regain a degree of independence in their daily lives.”

The development of engineering medical prototypes is not without its challenges. The orthosis is intended to be worn all day long therefore it needed to be robust, high-performing and lightweight. After developing the initial prototype, the main focus was on making everything smaller, including finding suitable new components. “That was a real challenge, since we couldn’t accept any compromise in terms of stability or performance,” says Dominik Hepp. To solve this problem, the two designers collaborated with suppliers to develop special components. At the core of the hand orthosis are four customised EC motors from maxon. These requirement was not only small in size and powerful, also the DC motors had to guarantee years of service with hundreds of thousands of operating cycles. The brushless micromotors deliver the necessary grip strength and are controlled via sensors that respond to still-intact muscles, a principle that is also found in prosthetic arms.

2019 is a year of practical trials for HKK Bionics, as the product goes through extensive testing before it is approved and becomes available on the market. “We want to make the exomotion® hand one accessible to as many patients as possible. That’s why we are pursuing collaborative partnerships with selected medical supply stores while expanding our network to include doctors and therapists,” explains Dominik Hepp. For the two young businessmen, this is an exciting challenge at the interface between technology and human beings. “It’s great to see that with our experience, plenty of creativity, and some tinkering around, we can contribute to improving the quality of patients’ lives.”

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

One Class, Two Different Designs: What Next?

The much-anticipated launch of the first two AC75 foiling monohull yachts from the Defender Emirates Team New Zealand and USA Challenger NYYC American Magic respectively did not disappoint the masses of America’s Cup fans waiting eagerly for their first glimpse of an AC75 ‘in the flesh’.

Emirates Team New Zealand were the first to officially reveal their boat at an early morning naming ceremony on September 6. Resplendent in the team’s familiar red, black and grey livery, the Kiwi AC75 was given the Maori name ‘Te Aihe’ (Dolphin).

Meanwhile, the Americans somewhat broke with protocol by carrying out a series of un-announced test sails and were the first team to foil their AC75 on the water prior to a formal launch ceremony on Friday September 14 when their dark blue boat was given the name ‘Defiant’.

But it was not just the paint jobs that differentiated the first two boats of this 36th America’s Cup cycle – as it quickly became apparent that the New Zealand and American hull designs were also strikingly different. On first comparison the two teams’ differing interpretations of the AC75 design rule are especially obvious in the shape of the hull and the appendages.

While the New Zealanders have opted for a bow section that is – for want of a better word – ‘pointy’, the Americans have gone a totally different route with a bulbous bow that some have described as ‘scow-like’ – although true scow bows are prohibited in the AC75 design rule.

The differences between the two AC75 hulls do not stop there, with the two design teams taking significantly contrasting approaches on the underwater profiles of their AC75s as well.

While the American Magic AC75 appears to have been built with an all but totally flat underwater section, Emirates Team New Zealand’s boat has a pronounced longitudinal bulge underneath running almost from bow to stern.

These two different approaches have set the sailing world alight with fans speculating over the thinking is behind each of them and pondering what the sailing characteristics of each boat might be.

Despite being very different the images of the two boats reveal some similarities as well such as the cockpit layout. Both teams have their cockpit divided in two by a central extension to the forward deck, creating two pits in which the crew can operate low down and out of the airstream. There will be plenty of improvements to come on how teams will manoeuvre the boats but so far both teams seem to have decided on fixed positions for their grinders who won’t cross sides during tacks and jibes.

With foiling now established for the America’s Cup, a key focus for designers has been to make the foils more efficient. Once again designing the shape, width and thickness of the foil wing is a trade-off between speed and stability.

The path chosen by the two teams have been very diverse. Emirates Team New Zealand has two different foils: one with anhedral angle and the other one which is straight. American Magic, on the contrary, seems to have two very similar foils wings in terms of shape and that’s probably because the Kiwis are still testing solutions whereas the Americans having been sailing consistently with their test boat, might have already got to some key conclusions.

Given that we can expect the teams to build and test a multitude of shapes in the run up to the 36th America’s Cup there is probably little to be gained from too much analysis there at this stage.

After almost a decade, soft sails are back in the America’s Cup and a lot of effort has been put in by the teams adapting the twin skinned mainsail concept to the new Class Rule with the main difference between the two AC75 appearing to be the boom position in relation to the mainsail foot. The Americans sporting a conventional boom, whereas the Kiwis have opted for a deck-sweeper mainsail foot, not unlike those used on the latest A-Class catamarans.

Despite all their differences – in their bows, underwater sections, and other design features – it is worth noting that both boats were foiling (and seemingly stably) within hours of going sailing for the first time. That is a remarkable achievement for both syndicates and a testimony to both the designers and builders, as well as to the efficacy of the AC75 design rule itself.

And it seems we will not have to wait very long for the next two AC75s to see the first light of day. The Italian Official Challenger of Record Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team is scheduled to be the next to launch on October 2, with the British INEOS Team UK syndicate following suit two days later.

Could we see two more surprising design ideas on show then?

 

maxon motor Australia is an Official Supplier to Emirates Team New Zealand. We follow the progress of their journey as Defender in the 36th America’s Cup campaign, March 2021.

 

Swiss racer Sébastien Buemi joins maxon Group as an Ambassador.

Drive specialist maxon and Swiss car racer Sébastien Buemi team up to share their passion for precision, efficiency and e-mobility.

Racer Sébastien Buemi knows what precision and efficiency are. After all, the former F1 driver has already won 13 races in the new Formula E and was the world champion in 2016. Being fast is not enough to be a front runner in this fully electric race series, a driver must also be efficient and energetic, or the battery will be empty before he reaches the finish line. That’s why Sébastien Buemi is a perfect match for maxon, whose high-end electric motors can be found not just in Mars rovers, but also in the Ad-Blue injection systems used in Formula 1 race cars.

maxon is collaborating with Sébastien Buemi and the parties signed the contract on September 9th. To celebrate the occasion, Buemi visited maxon headquarters in Sachslen, Switzerland to tour the company and meet the maxon team. Buemi was impressed with the cleanrooms and the tiny drives with a diameter of only four millimeters.

When the Formula E starts its sixth season on November 22nd, the Swiss collaboration will be represented by the maxon logo on Buemi’s racing suit. Buemi is also an ambassador for maxon. He says: “I’m proud of working with a Swiss high-tech company and being part of the maxon family.” The joy is mutual. CEO Eugen Elmiger says, “Sébastien and the Formula E in general are a great match for maxon. After all, we are increasingly becoming a systems provider, and the e-mobility market is particularly interesting in this regard.”

For further information please contact maxon’s media office, telephone +41 41 662 43 81 or email media@maxongroup.com

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