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Medtech development: miniature surgical robot with haptic technology

A start-up company in Hong Kong has developed an abdominal surgical robot with two small arms that unfold inside the abdomen and controlled by the surgeon using a control panel.

The start-up company NISI (HK) Limited is developing a miniature surgical robot that can be inserted though natural openings in the body and only unfolds inside the abdomen. To achieve this goal, the engineers are pushing components to their limits and beyond.

In the world of medtech, there are many astonishing new developments these days. The world of surgical robots could soon be disrupted: In summer 2018, the Hong Kong-based startup NISI announced that they have successfully performed a series of gynecological operations on live pigs. This may not sound like anything special at first, however: The essence is that the surgeons used a small robot that had been inserted rectally. This is a world’s first in medical history, according to the company.

NISI was founded in 2012 and works with the universities of Hong Kong and Cambridge to develop a robotic system that enables complex, minimal-invasive surgeries in the abdominal and pelvic area without leaving visible scars. “We want to become the world’s leading expert in non-invasive surgical robotic technology,” says Dr. Corinna Ockenfeld at NISI. The successful surgeries in the summer of 2018 have given the medtech start-up a lot of momentum. Initial surgeries on humans are planned for 2021.

The idea behind the NISI’s novel surgical system is as follows: The surgical robot is inserted through a natural orifice, usually the anus or the vagina. By doing so, only a small cut inside the body is necessary to get multiple robotic instruments inside the abdomen. Current systems require several incisions, one for each instrument. The new technology has obvious benefits: Less blood loss during surgery, less wound related complications, shorter recovery time for the patient, and no visible scars.

The robot itself has two small arms that unfold inside the abdomen and can be controlled by the surgeon using a control panel. The two robotic arms are directly controlled by micromotors from maxon and have up to eight degrees of freedom. The system also has a high-resolution 2D and 3D camera and delivers haptic feedback, so that the surgeon is able to feel what is happening at the other end and can work with even higher precision.

Bringing surgical robots to the next level requires more than outstanding technicians and engineers: Quality components are a key element. NISI is therefore testing various concepts and combinations of components. “We want to push the boundaries of medical and robotic technology,” says Dr. Corinna Ockenfeld. With regard to the motors, this requires an extremely small size and extremely high power density. “We are working closely with maxon and have a weekly exchange of information. We really appreciate the support we’ve received over the past years. The collaboration with maxon is highly productive and extremely valuable for both sides.”

The prototypes of the NISI surgical robotic system currently use various brushless DC motors from the EC series, with diameters ranging from 4 to 8 millimeters, complemented by matching customised gearheads. Both partners are pushing the precision drives to their limits, sometimes running them outside the nominal specifications. However, the BLDC motors are customised for the application’s specific needs. They require high power density, must fulfil extremely strict quality standards and be sealed against body fluids. In the future, the drives will also be biocompatible.

The next steps are to make the entire system even smaller, to make the motors even more dynamic and to expand the working range of the robot. “We take care of every little detail and take innovative approaches to solving problems,” says Dr. Corinna Ockenfeld. Step by step, NISI is coming closer in fulfilling its vision of making non-invasive surgery without scars a commonplace reality.

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

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New functionality from maxon’s EPOS4 Compact DC motor positioning controller

Unlocking new opportunities for a range of applications, Maxon’s EPOS4 Compact series motor controller can now be incorporated into EtherCAT networks.

Maxons compact controllers now speak another language: the new EtherCAT models comply with the CoE standard (CAN application layer over EtherCAT) and can be easily integrated into existing EtherCAT networks.

The new, intelligent motion controllers with realtime communication offer a simple, plug-and-play solution for controlling brushed DC and brushless EC motors with peak currents of up to 30A. With their modular design, they are particularly suited to applications with single or multi-axis systems in small devices and machines as well as robotics.

Also available is an extensive range of accessories to make the connection and integration process as seamless and easy to use as possible. Besides the intuitive “EPOS Studio” software, Windows DLL and Linux Shared Objects Libraries are also freely available for incorporating the controllers into a variety of master systems. As well, a detailed range of product documents are readily available.

The versatile EtherCAT controllers are available immediately in two power versions: 50V/8A and 50V/15A. Other variants in the Compact series (EPOS4 Compact 24/1.5 EtherCAT & EPOS4 Compact 50/5 EtherCAT) will be available by the end of 2018.

For more information about maxon‘s EPOS controllers visit epos.maxonmotor.com or contact maxon motor Australia tel. +61 2 9457 7477.

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.

Maxon expands offering with acquisition of zub machine control AG

maxon is expanding its product portfolio to include intelligent multi-axis controllers, taking a step further to becoming a one-stop system provider.

Well respected Swiss company zub machine control AG has joined maxon motor effective immediately. Zub has 30 years’ experience focusing on multi-axis controllers and motion control in the field of industrial automation. The products compliment maxon’s controllers, allowing maxon to offer its customers complete solutions such as power supply (batteries, battery management) from a single source. The first integrated project is with maxon’s BIKEDRIVE, an e-bike solution for pedelecs and s-pedelecs consisting of a rear motor, battery and the controller.

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

DC motors in blood analysis machines

High-tech machines analyse human blood samples and detect coagulation disorders. Maxon motor France supplies the DC drives as well as builds entire conveyor modules especially for a customer.

Analysis devices in laboratories and hospitals run 24/7, autonomously pipetting samples to deliver quick results. Such industrial automation equipment must work with high accuracy and reliability. This in turn places high demands on all components of the machines.

Stago is a French company that specialises in analysis instruments for haemostasis diagnostics (for testing blood clotting). Maxon DC motors are found in Stago’s StarMax machine. A fully automated analysis system, the StarMax is equipped with a three-axes robot with space for 215 samples and 1,000 test containers. Working autonomously the machine checks results, compares them and monitors the processes.

There are several varieties of maxon’s brushed A-max DC motor combined with planetary gearheads, that are used for the movements of the rack. With varying diameters between 16 and 26mm, these DC motors were selected for being highly dynamic and easy to control. The DC motors have an ironless rotor and are manufactured autonomously giving them an attractive price-performance ratio.

For more information on applications involving mechatronics and automation please contact maxon motor Australia tel. +61 2 9457 7477.

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Maxon’s A-max DC motor and GP22 planetary gearhead © maxon motor

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The analysis system STAR Max. © Stago

 

 

New! Maxon release the first sterilisable encoder.

maxon motor have unveiled the first sterilisable encoder for brushless DC motors. This will create many opportunities for advances in medical technology.

The first steam sterilisable encoder has been released by maxon motor. The ENX EASY is available in two versions, as an incremental (1024 CPT) and an absolute version (4096 CPT). It can be integrated into suitable motors without increasing the length. The encoder has allowed maxon to create the first sterilisable drive system with brushless DC motor, gearhead and integrated encoder.

Ideal for demanding medical / surgical applications where speed and positioning control tasks are performed. Available with ball bearings or in a ceramic version. The encoder delivers high speeds, extremely precise commutation, low vibration and reduction of heat build-up. To optimise costs and space restrictions, the encoder is integrated in the brushless DC motor.

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

DC motors in medical technology.

The new edition of maxon motor’s magazine, driven, focuses on developments in the medical industry.

Surgeon’s tools, robotics and machines used in medical technology are developing at a fast pace. The latest maxon motor magazine looks at hand held surgeon tools, robotic devices, measuring tools and machines to aid faster patient recovery times, less invasive procedures and pin-point precision surgery.

Published two times a year in English, Chinese and German, maxon’s magazine is available free of charge. For more information visit magazine.maxonmotor.com or for even more blogs, stories and videos visit maxon motor’s drive.tech site.

DC motors for ROV and subsea actuators.

The new maxon motor magazine delves into the fascinating use of motors in all sorts of equipment used at the bottom of the sea.

Tethered by umbilicals or autonomously controlled, robots, ROV’s and subsea mechanisms use DC motors for positioning, gripping and propelling tasks. The motors need to be manufactured to suit the harshest operating environments and extreme pressure. Learn how design engineers create products for subsea applications and see them in use.

Also in the upcoming edition maxon motor experts cover the important features to look for in a DC motor controller and give a detailed comparison between brushed and brushless DC motors.

Contact maxon motor Australia for your copy. Ph: +61 2 9457 7477.

 

maxon DC motors in a climbing robot on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

The iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge has 7.2km of confined tunnels in its arches. A climbing robot, fitted with maxon DC motors, has been developed to access areas deemed too unsafe for workers, sending real time information to Engineers to evaluate disrepair and damage.

The climbing robot has magnetic feet and uses a sensor to create a map of the dim and narrow tunnels. This gives the robot the ability to move through the tunnels climbing up and down walls and scaling drop-offs up to 1.5 meters.

The robot uses six of the Maxon DCX custom motor configurations. They are used to peel the magnets from the surface, one for each magnet, three in each foot. maxon DCX series of DC motors are a robotically manufactured, online configurable motor, gearhead and encoder combination.

Developed by the University of Technology Sydney and Roads & Maritime Services over a five-year period, the robot was able to access a section of the bridge that was too dangerous for workers and where paintwork hadn’t been updated since 1932. The climbing robot has negated the need to send workers down 30cm hatches that appear roughly every six meters along the Bridge. The risk of asphyxiation, poor air quality, getting stuck inside the Bridge and the need for emergency rescue are drastically reduced if not negated by using the climbing robot.

The climbing robot has the potential to access dangerous structures where workers would otherwise risk their lives to inspect or maintain.

For more information on DC motors and Drives robotic applications please contact maxon motor Australia on Tel. +61 2 9457 7477.

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The maxon motors used in the climbing robot on the Sydney Harbour Bridge © 2016 maxon motor

 

 

The bionic model.

Rebekah Marine walked the runway at New York Fashion Week. What’s so inspiring is that Rebekah was the first to do so wearing her prosthetic i-limb.

It’s not every day you see a model with a bionic arm sashay down the runway at New York Fashion Week. But that’s exactly what Rebekah Marine, 28, did. Born without a right forearm she has refused to let this hold her back. Challenging stereotypes and proudly wearing her prosthetic, the i-limb quantum, Rebekah also publicly appeals for more tolerance in the modelling industry.

The groundbreaking limb was made by British Manufacturer Touch Bionics. The strong, powerful yet smooth movements in the prosthetic feature maxon DC motors and planetary gearheads. It is the first and only upper-limb prosthesis that enables the user to change grips by performing a simple gesture. This control is automated and allows for the change between the grip by moving the i-limb quantum in one of 4 pre-programmed directions.

For more information please contact Tel. + 61 2 9457 7477.

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The I-limb quantum, by Touch Bionics.

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