In February, Solar Orbiter will launch its mission to collect new data about the Sun. Swiss research and industry have played a substantial role in the construction of the space probe – with drives from maxon Group among the contributions.
The European Space Agency (ESA) wants to study the Sun up close. Next month the agency will launch the Solar Orbiter space probe, equipped with ten measuring instruments. Scientists hope that the mission, which will last several years, will provide them with new insights into phenomena such as the solar wind, as well as the complex dynamics that are responsible for solar eruptions. Solar Orbiter will fly to within 45 million kilometres of the Sun – closer than Mercury, its nearest planet. At this distance, the side of the probe facing the Sun will be exposed to intense heat: more than 500°C. A heat shield will protect the important instruments on board the probe, equipped with shutters to provide a view of the Sun only when measurements are being taken.
Studying solar eruptions
The same applies to the spectrometer-telescope for imaging X-rays (STIX), whose purpose is to study solar eruptions more closely, possibly enabling large-scale eruptions to be predicted in future. STIX was developed at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW) in collaboration with several industrial partners from Switzerland, including Almatech. Swiss drives made by maxon are among the components used in the X-ray telescope. Two specially modified DC motors with diameters of 13 mm move an aluminium attenuator, which slides in front of STIX’s 30 detectors as required. The micro drives are wired in parallel and can be used together or individually. Thus ensuring that they’ll run smoothly for the entire five years planned for the mission. The design is based on micromotors that will soon be used in ESA’s ExoMars Rover. Key factors when selecting the drives were their low weight, energy efficiency, and resistance to vibration.
Solar Orbiter is one of ESA’s flagship projects and has cost more than 1.5 billion Australian dollars (AUD). After its planned launch in February, the probe will journey for almost two years before it can start taking measurements. The mission is scheduled to end in 2025.
From the Sun to Mars
While Solar Orbiter approaches its launch date, preparations are underway for the next two major Mars projects, which are scheduled to start in the (European) summer of 2020: NASA’s Mars2020 Rover and ESA’s ExoMars Rover. The aim of both missions is to provide new information about the Red Planet, answering questions such as whether there has ever been life on Mars. Mars2020 also carries a small helicopter to deliver a proof of concept that flights are possible on Mars despite the very thin atmosphere.
maxon drives are used for mission-critical tasks in both projects, including wheel drives, handling soil samples, and steering the Mars helicopter.
Please contact maxon media office for more information:
maxon motor Australia tel. +61 2 9457 7477 | maxon Group Headquarters Tel. +41 41 662 43 81
(main picture: The aluminum attenuator, powered by the above pictured maxon brushed DC motor © maxon Group)
maxon motor UK office spoke with Philip Norman at Ross Robotics, who has created greater flexibility with his modular robots via innovative use of hub drives.
Ross Robotics specialises in remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) that are modular. The robots are designed to be made from generic parts to build robots small, medium and large. Tools and sensors are modular too and can be plugged on to suit the application. One robot can then perform different functions, which is highly unusual in the robotic world.
An unusual advantage
The latest modules offer greater flexibility than previously by using hub drives. Hub drives consist of motors and electronics inside a wheel case. These are stand-alone units, one of the advantages being that little maintenance is required. The speed and torque of the ROV can be changed quickly by swapping to a different hub drive. ‘The idea is to hide the complexity from the end-user to provide a range of performance options’ said Philip Norman, Research and Development Director of Ross, ‘If you want a police force robot to travel at 25 kmh or a bomb disposal unit to travel at 1 kmh, the hub drive will look the same from the outside but will be calibrated to perform to a specific task.’
Philip’s team are now using the maxon EC flat motor series with accompanying maxon gearboxes in each hub. Philip explained that initially they were using an alternative gearbox combined with a maxon motor. ‘We thought we needed a customised gearbox. This was expensive and we found they were prone to failure. We then tried an off-the-shelf maxon motor and maxon gearbox and it worked perfectly.’
The modular ROV’s have huge potential from mine inspection in South America to perimeter fence patrolling in Scandinavia. In agriculture, they can be used inside chicken farms. The robots are used to check the welfare of the birds. By using autonomous or remote-controlled navigation, onboard modular sensors can monitor the air quality, as well as the chicken distribution. Chicken aggression can be a big problem. Because robots are not imprinted as predators (unlike the human stockman) they can modify the behaviour of the birds by interacting with them, like ‘super hens’, allowing smaller birds to get to the feeders and drinkers. This is hugely beneficial for the birds’ welfare and results in improved commercial outcomes for the farmer.
The nuclear industry is using robots to explore areas hostile to humans. The robots can endure rough terrain and deploy modular sensors, LIDARs, cameras and Geiger counters to determine the quality of the environment. When equipped with suitable tool modules they also perform useful decommissioning tasks.
Ross Robotics offers a range of hub motors, depending upon customer requirements. They promise quality and reliability. ‘Our biggest worry is failure. No-one wants a call at 2 am from a customer in Australia to say that your robot has failed, and it’s affecting business’, says Philip. ‘This is why we use maxon products. maxon has a great reputation globally, we only have to say that the Hub has maxon motors and gearboxes in it and customers are reassured. If we want to deliver a quality product, the quality of our suppliers is paramount.’
Please contact Karen Whittaker, Marketing Manager maxon UK and Ireland, for more information.
maxon motor Australia tel. +61 2 9457 7477.
Left to right: maxon EC flat motor with gearbox; hub drive from Ross Robotics; and hub drive.
Emirates Team New Zealand revealed their new custom designed and built test boat Te Kāhu today in Auckland.
Te Kāhu meaning ‘The Hawk’ was rolled out of the shed on Wednesday and was christened by Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei.
Te Kāhu fits within the rules on test yachts according to the 36th America’s Cup Protocol which says they must not exceed 12 metres length overall (LOA), and will be used by the team to continue design development for a large proportion of 2020 while their AC75 ‘Te Aihe’ is being shipped and raced offshore for the America’s Cup World Series events in Cagliari, Sardinia (April 23-26) and Portsmouth (June 4-7).
“We are really excited about launching Te Kāhu today. There has been a lot of work gone into the design and build of this boat internally, which is amazing really as it has all taken place between the design and build of our first AC75 and the ongoing work on our next AC75 race boat.” said Emirates Team New Zealand CEO Grant Dalton.
To outside spectators it likely seems that Emirates Team New Zealand are a bit late to the party with the launch of their test boat, considering the Challengers test boats started hitting the water all the way back in September 2018, to which Dalton explains:
“It might seem like the launch of our test boat is a bit overdue, but early in any campaign decisions have to be made that ultimately will only be judged at the end.
As a team, we decided that a test boat was indeed a really key necessity but believed it needed to have as much design input as our first AC75 to give it meaningful ongoing development possibilities.”
“There is no doubt looking back that the Challengers all learnt some valuable lessons and got a bit of a jump on us with their developments. But it was a conscious decision of ours to suck that up and play the long game knowing that points don’t start to count until the first race of the America’s Cup, which obviously is in March 2021.” continued Dalton.
While Te Aihe is being shipped 60 days either way to and from Europe, by launching Te Kāhu now, Emirates Team New Zealand plan to continue their on-water development programme uninterrupted.
“We know from experience that the development and gains that take place in the year before the America’s Cup are vitally important,” explained Head of Design, Dan Bernasconi. “We couldn’t afford to only be sailing on the water for the handful of weeks we will get on Te Aihe around the ACWS events between now and its return to New Zealand.”
Emirates Team New Zealand are now in the process of packing up and preparing Te Aihe for shipping to Cagliari in preparation for the first ACWS event in April which is the next time the AC75 will be sailed, and the first time it will line up to race against the other AC75’s.
Dalton directly concluded: “In Te Kāhu we have a very legitimate test boat which will provide us the platform to hopefully make some significant gains in our developments for 2021. Who is right in their overall plans and strategy we have no idea. I guess we will find out next year.”
About the name:
‘Te Kāhu’ was named by Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei translated as ‘The Hawk’
The hawk majestically glides and soars at high speeds in the wind. It has great vision and foresight and stealthily swoops in on its prey.
maxon Group tel. +61 2 9457 7477.
maxon Group is an Official Supplier to Emirates Team New Zealand.
Principally due to a disagreement over Wind Limits for racing in Auckland, the Match Conditions were unable to be agreed with the Challenger of Record by the due date of 20 December 2019.
As required by the Protocol, the issue has now been referred to the Arbitration Panel for mediation between the Defender and Challenger of Record. A successful mediation will require agreement between the Parties but if unsuccessful then the Protocol requires the Arbitration Panel to make a decision on the issues of disagreement by 20 March 2020.
By way of background, the America’s Cup Deed of Gift requires racing rules and conditions to be agreed by mutual consent between the Defender and Challenger but with the modern day America’s Cup involving multi challengers this is modified by the Protocol under which all teams enter. Under the AC 36 Protocol, the Challenger of Record has the responsibility to represent all Challengers and that responsibility involves consulting with other Challengers before taking a position with the Defender on issues such as race conditions.
The Defender does not deal with the other Challengers direct on such issues but works on the basis that the Challenger of Record is presenting the collective position of the Challengers when undertaking such negotiations, not just the view of its own sailing team, Luna Rossa. In fact, in the various negotiations Emirates Team New Zealand has had with the Challenger of Record there have been many practical examples where the COR has made specific reference to the views of the other Challengers when taking a particular stance.
Emirates Team New Zealand was therefore very surprised to learn that the current stance of the Challenger of Record in relation to wind limits does not reflect the collective position of all Challengers. The Defender’s position on the Wind Limits is what is needed to ensure a quality event in Auckland for the benefit of the New Zealand public, international visitors and the world audience.
maxon Group tel. +61 2 9457 7477.
maxon Group is an Official Supplier to Emirates Team New Zealand.
maxon would like to inform customers of the upcoming discontinuation of the EC 13 and EC size 5 brushless DC motors with a power of 30 W and 50 W.
The discontinuation affects the following motors and combinations in which they are used:
- EC 13, 30 W Length: 39 mm
- EC 13, 50 W Length: 50 mm
- EC size 5, 30 W Length: 39 mm
- EC size 5, 50 W Length: 50 mm
The sterilisable versions of these EC motors with a diameter of 13mm / 0.5” were first introduced in 2009. They were revised in 2013 and at the same time, the status of the original version was set to NRND (not recommended for new designs).
With the release of the latest generation ECX SPEED 13 brushless motors in April 2017 (main picture), all EC 13 / size 5 motors with 30 W and 50 W were set to NRND.
The ECX SPEED 13 brushless motors serve as a replacement for the EC 13 / size 5. They are also available in a sterilisable version (up to 2,000 autoclave cycles) and are very similar in terms of both performance specifications and size.
The ECX 13 can be combined with gearheads of the GPX 13 (sterilisable) and GPX 14 series, are available with integrated EASY INT encoders, and cost less than the EC 13 / size 5.
As configurable units, ECX SPEED 13mm brushless motors are also available for shipping within 11 days.
For more information contact maxon motor Australia tel. +61 2 9457 7477.
The maxon brushless flat motors are now available in combinations with planetary gearboxes, encoders and vented rotors for increased torque.
The recently released 90mm diameter Brushless DC ventilated motors from maxon gave power level increases from 160W to 600W within the same diameter. Two length options of 27.4mm and 39.9mm are selectable with two air cooling options. Four winding options are available for DC voltages varying from 12 to 60VDC. Continuous torque capability is up to 1610mNm from the motor alone and when combined with planetary, worm and helical gearhead options repeated peak torque levels of 650Nm have been achieved. High ratios and 25600qc integrated internal encoders make them extremely useful products for rotary joint applications such as robotics and industrial machinery actuators. Maxon can also manufacture custom versions with specific cable looms and rear shafts for mounting loads on both sides of the motor. The combination of the flat motors with high stiffness, low profile, zero backlash, trochoidal style gearheads also makes the complete drive suitable for wheel drive applications such as autonomous ground vehicles and warehouse logistic machinery.
maxon motor Australia tel. +61 2 9457 7477.
Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) are most often used in industrial applications to transport heavy materials around warehouses or factories. It is critical AGVs don’t fail. The choice of motorisation is key.
If you’re thinking about motorising an AGV we have five fundamental points to bear in mind and introduce maxon’s IDX drive.
- Choose compact motorisation
Compactness is an important factor in warehouses both in the machinery used and the storage solutions themselves. Customer demands have increased and 24-hour delivery is becoming the norm. As things stand, warehouses can no longer afford to be far from major delivery areas. The price per m2 on the outskirts of a town is not the same as it is in the middle of the countryside, so logistics firms are opting for high-rack storage solutions. This means they need ergonomic robots that can move vertically and reach required heights. However, it is difficult, if not impossible, to have a compact AGV if the motor is bulky, therefore it is essential to choose compact motorisation. Drives must also be able to fit into restricted spaces, as they are sometimes integrated into existing trucks. A small footprint is a major issue for applications in logistics.
- Focus on true plug-and-play solutions
Essentially, robots were designed to help humans, and motorising an AGV is no exception. maxon’s IDX compact drives have all possible connectivity options as standard and are adjustable to suit individual needs. When you plug the IDX drive in, it works immediately, because they are delivered pre-programmed – a true plug-and-play solution.
When you place an order for an IDX motor, you define all the parameters you need through our online configurator. How the product communicates, what cables are needed, the electronics you choose, the motor power, whether or not you want a brake, etc. You can program everything online in just a few clicks. That way, the motor is configured to suit you and is delivered ready to use.
Motors with integrated electronics can be managed remotely because they are connected. The communication buses used can communicate both with the EtherCAT and CANopen systems, and in the future with IoT networks, too. Robots can therefore be programmed by computer and controlled remotely, which makes maintenance much simpler. This means you can work at one time on your entire fleet of AGVs, to run diagnostics or carry out an update, for example.
- Prioritise safety
AGVs operate in close proximity to operators, staff and other AGVs. It is therefore necessary to maintain safe human/ machine interaction, encompassing all of the safety measures. Robots have movement and optical sensors allowing them to detect the presence of humans and avoid any risk of collision. This safety-oriented approach applies also to motorisation. To avoid any danger from overheating, for instance, IDX drives have two integrated temperature sensors, one inside the motor and the other within the electronics. If there is a problem, the motor is secured immediately, without waiting until the whole envelope has overheated. Most motors on the market lack this responsiveness because they have sensors only for the electronics. The motorisation of AGVs can be a technical challenge. To meet customer needs, maxon has designed an exceptionally compact motor, with performance 25% better than its competitors, while keeping pricing competitive.
- Base the design on modularity
Not all AGVs do the same job. Some will carry loads of 1 tonne or more, while others will lift loads of around 100kg; some will travel in a straight line, while others will have an integrated steering function.
Motorisation requirements vary with each application, and that is why it’s essential to have a modular solution as a base. It’s imperative to choose the type of motor, power rating, electronics, connectivity, type of communication, the protection rating of the motor, and whether or not a brake or an encoder is required.
All these parameters can be easily configured online. Maxon’s innovative configuration tool is unique in the market; customers benefit from highly organised production that can develop a drive solution to match requirements in just 19 days.
- Opt for fast delivery
Today, responsiveness is fundamental and expected as standard. maxon is well aware of the challenges in the AGV sector and guarantees delivery of IDX solutions in 19 days.
Irrespective of how you use your AGV, with maxon’s capabilities and tooling, you can be sure you will have the right motorisation. Find out more about maxon’s IDX compact drive.
maxon motor Australia tel. +61 2 9457 7477.