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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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Shining a light on motor applications.

Brushless flat DC motor with hollow bore for air and light transmission.

Today we exhibit a new motor development featuring a Brushless DC (BLDC) flat motor. Flat motors are also commonly referred to as pancake motors. This unit has a body length of just 38mm and an output power of over 157W and 6000rpm at the shaft in the application. The average motor power rating for the series across 6 variants is 100W. The overall motor diameter is 68mm and it can be supplied with or without protective covers for IP rating. The motor is available with an internal encoder with resolutions up to 16,384qc per revolution making it suitable as a rotary stage of robotic joint actuator. The unique feature though is the motors hollow shaft. This is to enable customers to pass light or air through the bore of the motor. Air transmission is a common requirement for packaging and placement machinery and light or fibre is a common requirement for film and camera gimbal applications. This motor was also manufactured with the customers shaft length and bore specifications in combination with a custom rear shaft extension at the rear from the motor rotor.

Contact maxon motor Australia for motor specifications or assistance with a custom solution Tel. +61 2 9457 7477.

New maxon motor catalogue

maxon motor have released the 2018/19 catalogue. Entitled “High precision drives and systems” the new catalogue theme is based on maxon motors focus on building complete drive systems including DC motors, gearheads, sensors and controllers.

maxon motor will continue to be the world’s leading supplier of high precision brushed and brushless DC motors and gearheads but also have expanded into cross-platform system solutions from a single source. In addition to the new capabilities expansion maxon have released a large range of new products. These include: A new square format 16mm brushless DC motor, 13mm and 16mm ECX high speed brushless motors, the new ECi-30 low cost high torque BLDC motor, an entire range of frameless brushless motors that are particularly suitable for wheel hub applications and robotic joint actuation, new encoders and various new motor control units. The first torque levels from a direct drive maxon motor at 1Nm have been achieved with the new 260W flat motor that is less than 40mm long and a series of motors with a hollow bore are handy for applications that require a passage for cables, air or light. Print versions and online e-paper versions have been released.

For customised solutions contact maxon motor Australia Ph: +61 2 9457 7477.

First maxon motor of its kind. Brushless DC motor with hall sensors, absolute encoder and incremental outputs

For fine motor position control across multiple generation brushless motor controller models, maxon motor Australia has supplied the first of its kind maxon EC-max brushless DC motor with three modes of feedback.

The new micromotor encoder 16 Easy Absolute 16mm x 9mm offers high resolution motor feedback from a tiny package. Additionally it offers 4,096 counts per turn incremental outputs with line driver channels and an index pulse. The Absolute output is available in the choice of Binary BiSS-C or Gray Symmetric SSI. The encoders use an interpolated hall sensor angle measurement system to generate the incremental quadrature output signals according to EIA-422 with 20mA maximum current draw and ESD protections built in. The angle value zero of the encoder is factory aligned with the BLDC motor zero point and the encoder is welded in place on the rear flange of the motor. When fitted with a multi pole brushless DC motor the encoder can still show the angle values zero once per mechanical turn and the angle zero is identical to the index position. The motor itself also contains three hall sensors for commutation purposes. An adaptor is available to convert the single ended clock and data signals of the absolute encoder into TIA/EIA RS422 compliant differential clock and data lines.

For special configurations of this unique feedback solution with other maxon motor types contact maxon motor Australia Sydney office on +61 2 9457 7477.

New powerhouse DC motor positioning controller.

Maxon motor have developed their most powerful DC motor positioning controller to date.

With a maximum power output of 2.1kW maxon are pleased to announce the release of the EPOS4 70/15 DC motor positioning controller. The CANopen controller with an EtherCAT option is presented in a robust metal housing. Suitable for both brushless and brushed DC motors the positioning controller is a cut above the rest due to its ease of operation and broad operative scope. The various digital and analogue connections can be configured and the unit is suitable for use with a wide variety of feedback systems. It can also be integrated into various master systems. This new product and many more will be showcased at the Hannover Messe in Germany from 23-27 April. For more information please contact maxon motor Australia tel. +61 2 9457 7477.

Powerful zero backlash servo gear motor.

Brushless DC (BLDC) servomotor, zero backlash gearhead, holding brake and high resolution encoder combination drive offers high torque levels without compromising positioning accuracy.

This servo motor and gearhead combination recently released by maxon motor Australia can produce 364Nm with a peak torque rating at the output of 686Nm. Fitted with both an encoder and a holding brake inside the IP rated motor’s rear enclosure the combination can move heavy loads into position and make sure they stay there. The high acceleration of the brushless DC motor with top grade Neodymium magnets enables a zero to 2600rpm speed change in under 4ms. Being both brushless DC and also slotless gives the motor zero cogging or position detent for smooth position transitions and low speed performance. The solid construction and sealed nature of the motor drive components makes it suitable for mining, food, process control and manufacturing environments. Customisation of the motor and gearhead features is possible and both 24 and 48V DC supplies can be used. The unit is compatible with standard Servoamplifier and position controllers from maxon motor.

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

Brisbane Boys College creating robots and beating experts at their own game

Created by Year 12 students from Brisbane are soccer-playing machines that achieved first place at famed international competition, RoboCup.

Brisbane Boy’s College (BBC) has a dedicated robotics program with teams participating in regional, state, national, Asia-Pacific and international Robotic competitions. In 2017, five participants from BBC formed a team and visited Nagoya, Japan for the annual RoboCup competition. And they beat the best of the best with their soccer-playing robot.

Weighing just over 1 kg, the robots had to be remotely operated meaning everything had to be programmed and no human touch was allowed. To win the world superteam champions lightweight category for under-19s, the boys’ robots acted as either goalie or striker against, and with, machines from other countries. The Chinese team had the fastest robots and received the highest score for gameplay but Australia won on accuracy and coding. Maxon DCX motors and gearheads are in the wheels of the robot. Maxon motor Australia is a proud supporter of BBC.

Team captain and ex-soccer player, Lachlan Grant, said the programming and circuit board building was extremely complex, and it was nice to see their win make news for the school, traditionally renowned for rugby and tennis. Master in Charge Colin Noy said the boys’ skills were so good the school gets former students, now at university, to coach instead of teachers. “In fact, one European university lecturer attending the championships told us the programming level of our students was higher than most of his Masters students,” Mr Noy said.

“Our robots were to the most responsive and most accurate in the competition.”

To watch the BBC robots at play click on this YouTube link. For more information on DC motors in robotic applications contact maxon motor Australia tel. +61 2 9457 7477.

Robots for playing soccer through to disaster relief

At the international RoboCup, maxon motors featured in robots playing soccer and in mock recovery operations.

At the end of July 2017, more than 3,000 participants from 42 countries participated in the annual RoboCup competition held in Nagoya, Japan.

maxon had inbuilt motors and controllers in a rescue robot developed by the Carinthia University of Applied Sciences that placed seventh out of 20 competitors. Scoring high marks for the light design and system approach, the robot contained several DC motor, gearbox and encoder combinations. Using the EC-4 pole brushless motor with 200W power as a base, the motor operated the chains propelling the robot forward. The camera arm of the robot also contained eight maxon DEC 50/5 modules on circuit boards and four 70/10 ESCON controllers for the gripper arm. The machines acted in a simulated disaster scenario carrying out rescue operations and were evaluated based on their performance.

At the other end of the contest was the Soccer finale, with the two competing robots both containing maxon drives. The University of Bonn developed an 18kg, 135 cm robot supported by an exoskeleton that was 3D printed called “NimbRo”. Maxon DC motors were integrated into an actuator drive system developed by a South Korean company. The competitor’s robot, named “Sweaty” and developed by Offenburg University, contained 24 maxon DC motors and gearheads. 18 of these drives were fitted with an overload motor controller and a further two were fitted with an evaporative cooling system to prevent overheating. This cooling system is similar to the way humans sweat hence the name “Sweaty”. NimbRo won 11-1.

For more information on DC motors to develop robotic applications contact maxon motor Australia tel. +61 2 9457 7477.

New! complete drive systems for mechanical doors

An integrated DC motor, motor controller and sensor unit has been developed by maxon motor for use in sliding door systems.

Maxon have developed a compact drive unit for use in elevator doors, public transport, sliding doors or machine tools. Consisting of an EC90 flat brushless DC motor, with integrated mile encoder and an EPOS 2 position controller set within a single die cast carrier. Available in two options, both with 24V DC motor, the mdd1 offers 96mNm torque and 2000 rpm. The mdd2 has 730 rpm and up to 291 mNm torque. The modules can also be tailored to customer specific requirements.

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

maxon DC motor / gearhead combination in V8 race car engines.

maxon motor UK subsidiary supplies DC motor combinations in V8 engines of race cars that competed at Le Mans in 2017.

maxon UK customer, Gibson Technology, created, developed and manufactured a new 4.2 litre V8 engine. The race car engine specialist depended on the performance and reliability of maxon DC motor and gearhead assemblies in each of their engines.

The environment of the motors is particularly harsh, subjected to high vibration and extreme heat cycles. The DC motor system is responsible for the throttle actuation in the Gibson engine and was exclusively designed for endurance racing, so it is vital that the DC motor drive system is reliable and hard wearing. Put simply, if the motor fails the engine stops. The combination used by Gibson Technologies is a modified and customised product.

Throughout Le Mans race week maxon’s DC motors successfully travelled a total of 143,449.03 km’s over 719 hours, 27 minutes. That is the equivalent of three-and-a-half times around the world. In 2017 Gibson engines competed in four prestigious endurance racing events: the FIA Word Endurance Championship, the Le Mans 24 Hours, the European Le Mans Series and the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship. To the surprise of many, two LMP2 cars came second and third place in the Le Mans 24 Hours and 14 out of the top 16 cars were Gibson powered. Across the LMP2 category Gibson had 25 cars on the grid, the largest number ever for a single engine manufacturer.

For more information please contact maxon motor Australia tel. + 61 2 9457 7477 or maxon motor UK +44 1189 733337.

About Gibson Technology

Gibson Technology was nominated for a number of awards and won ‘Race Engine Designer of the Year’ at Race Technology Magazine’s World Motorsport Symposium. Significantly, having seen the achievements in 2017, the company has been approached to provide the Dragonspeed LMP1 team, and another two car LMP1 team the name of which will be announced shortly, in the FIA Word Endurance Championship with a newly developed GL458 engine for 2018 and 2019.

LMP1 cars are the most powerful cars in endurance racing. They have size restrictions on length, width, and fuel tank capacity and are fitted with homologated fuel flow meters, which constrains both fuel energy per lap and maximum instantaneous fuel flow. This will be more of a technical challenge with the focus being on gaining efficiency and control of the engine. A challenge Gibson is more than ready to take on – watch this space!

www.gibsontech.co.uk

 

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