Unlocking the secrets of the spine

Pleurobot landscape

Research and development into the spinal cord has taken an unconventional approach at The Swiss Institute of Technology.

Our brain is the central processing unit of our motor skills and functions. But it does not control our physical movements alone. The contribution that our spinal cord makes to our physical actions has driven two investigative questions from a team at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne – How do these motor circuits work and what is the underlying control mechanisms for the movement of vertebrates? To better understand the secrets of the spinal cord, they have a dedicated Lab, called the Biorobotics Laboratory or Biorob for short. Here, they build robots to better understand mobility in living beings, drawing inspiration from many different animals where motor control happens mostly in the spinal cord. From this they built a robot called the Pleurobot, based on a Salamander. Powered by 27 maxon brushless frameless DC motors the robot can move on land and in water seamlessly mimicking the actions of the amphibian. Primarily its use is to assist with understanding how the nervous system in a spinal chord operates and will assist research in the neurosciences and biomechanical fields contributing to neuroprosthetics and paraplegia therapies.

For further information contact maxon motor Australia Tel. +61 2 9457 7477 or visit the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology’s BioRob Page – Pleurobot.

 

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.

 

Design considerations for an exoskeleton for children.

Exoskeleton for children maxon DC motors

 

 

Developing Exoskeletons for children present their own engineering challenges simply because children are still growing.

Exoskeletons were largely developed for people that have sustained paralysis or suffer muscular dystrophy. For adults who have stopped growing there is no risk of outgrowing the exoskeleton. However for children their growth and ability present a multitude of challenges for design engineers. An exoskeleton that fits a six-year old perfectly may be much too small by the time the child turns seven. For a child with spinal muscular atrophy an exoskeleton is designed to recognise users are not completely paralysed but are able to move their legs to a certain extent. Sensors within the frame detect weak leg movements and respond immediately to provide support. As a result, the child is able control the exoskeleton directly with the legs.

Spanish company, Marsi Bionics, manufactures exoskeletons mainly for adults but have developed two exoskeletons for children, the Atlas 2020 and Atlas 2030. Weighing approximately 14 kgs it is made for children from 3 years up who have a neuromuscular disease. The exoskeleton can be adapted to various leg lengths and hip widths, so that it also fits teenagers up to about 14 years of age. The “Atlas 2030 is an upgrade of Atlas 2020”, explains Elena García, creator and co-founder of Marsi Bionics. “The main difference is that Atlas 2020 is intended for use in hospitals for gait training and rehabilitation, while Atlas 2030 is designed for use in private homes as an integral part of the patient’s everyday life. Both devices are ready for industrial production and until then, Atlas 2020 will continue to be used in hospitals for clinical research.”

maxon motor have five drive systems in each leg of the children’s exoskeleton. Brushless flat EC45 motors deliver very high torque in a compact design, coupled with inductive MILE encoders that act as sensors. The motors are controlled by servo controllers from maxon’s ESCON series.  “EC flat motors provide the best power-to-weight and power-to-volume ratio”, explained Elena García. “This is a variable of paramount importance, as gait exoskeletons require high power but a very low weight and volume.” The exoskeletons will be made available commercially once CE certification marks have been received.

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

Shining a light on motor applications.

BLDC Brushless Flat DC motor sideview450px BLDC motor Brushless Flat DC motor450px

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.

DC motors for the transportation industry.

maxon motor works closely with Hannover based, German manufacturer KAG motors. KAG produces heavy duty, innovative, reliable EC and DC motors for off-the-shelf or customisable drive system solutions to the transport sector. The industry is heavily legislated with regards to access rights for the general public. KAG DC motors can be found in automatic bus and train doors, sliding steps, access ramps, doors for WC facilities in trains, switchgear, sanding systems, mirror adjustment and auxiliary compressors. The designs are vandalism-proof, vibration-resistant, cogging-torque and noise optimised, and have a slim design where needed. For more information on DC motors for transport systems please contact maxon motor Australia tel. +61 2 9457 7477. Visit http://www.kag-hannover.com/en/ for more information on KAG DC motors.

Brushless DC flat motors – in parts.

BL Frameless DC motor + encoder 450px

maxon motor Australia’s new frameless DC motor and encoder set allows even further miniaturisation and integration. The new motors meet the increasing need for smaller robotic actuation by assembling individual parts directly into the robotic joint.

This is the new frameless brushless DC motor (BLDC) with a diameter of 45mm and an assembled depth of just 23.7mm, it has a continuous rating of 50W. 70W and 130W versions are also available. The frameless design is particularly suitable for processing machine or rotary stage manufacturers who need a large through bore to pass cabling or tubing. For positioning a high resolution magnetic encoder ring also with the same bore as the motor rotor is also supplied as components. The encoder ring is marked with the zero position to allow alignment with the motor zero commutation point in the application and is available in IP rated, absolute and incremental options. The combination gives a low profile large bore positioning system made up from standard parts with shorter lead times than specialty manufactured complete assemblies. The second advantage is for space saving in applications already containing joint actuation bearings or mounting systems there is no need for a second set within the motor.

Contact maxon motor Australia for assistance with brushless frameless DC motors. Ph: +61 2 9457 7477.

 

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

BLDC motor w hall sensors, absolute encoder +incremental outputs 450px

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.

Tailor made brushless DC servomotor and planetary gearbox.

Small brushless DC motor and planetary gearbox 450px

This small brushless DC motor displays the advanced miniature and micro motor manufacturing techniques of maxon motor. So small are the details it is hard to capture the modifications and quality. The example pictured is a 10mm diameter DC motor and planetary gearbox fitted with an encoder for speed and position control.

What’s new? Sure there are a lot of small DC motors available now days however it’s in the detail that defines the difference between motors. Pictured is maxon motors newest planetary gearhead range that has been selected because of its stainless steel construction. The body and flange of the gearbox are one piece allowing the design engineers to not only create a mounting flange specific to the mounting footprint available in the application, it also allows maxon motor to orientate the gearhead flange with the motor cable exit. Enabling a shorter cable and neater cable looms. Laser welding of the motor flange is also a technology that is used to affix a customer specific drive pinion to the shaft. This gives the strongest possible power transmission coupling in these miniature sizes. maxon motor provide its customers with complete drawings and models for appraisal before samples are manufactured even for non-standard DC motor and gearhead assemblies like the shown example.

The new 10mm gearhead can supply torque levels up to 200mNm and can operate with input speeds up to 15,000rpm. Standard supply is with stainless steel ball bearings, it has efficiencies as high as 90% and weight as low as 6.7g.

Contact maxon motor Australia for further assistance Ph:+61 2 9457 7477.

 

Maxon release new product: flat BLDC motor with cables.

EC45_flat_70W_Kabelversion_411812_450px

Driven by customer demand, maxon release modifications to their flat / pancake motors.

maxon motor have altered the EC45 and EC90 flat BLDC motors. Now with the option to add cables with a pre-mounted connector by default and in combination with the integrated MILE encoder. The motors offered are the EC 45 flat in 50 & 70 W versions or 30 W by request. The EC 90 flat 160 W and 260 W is now available in cable version. The cable versions feature a much smaller footprint by eliminating excess PCB overhang from the side of the motor.

The flat design of the brushless DC flat motors makes them ideal for many applications, particularly robotics and industrial automation. Offering internal or external rotor motors, the flat BLDC motors are perfect for when space is limited being small and lightweight but with powerful torque. The simple and considered design means that production is largely automated, keeping prices as low as possible.

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