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.

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.

Fast brushless DC linear actuator.

Fast BLDC linear actuator 450px

New brushless DC linear actuator series from maxon motor.

This new combination linear actuator features a useful mixture of fast movements, high torque and holding ability. A precision ground metric thread and nut assembly can be customised to suit individual application mounting requirements. The unit pictured below has an external thread for mounting the load and an internal thread for traversing the spindle with a stainless steel and brass combination suiting the application running characteristics. Ceramic and plastic materials are also available. This is also the first such unit imported into Australia with the new EC-i 30mm brushless DC motor. The linear actuator is held in an amalgamated bearing block with radial and axial bearings contained inside a planetary gearhead end flange. This reduces the size and eliminates many alignment issues associated with standalone ball screws and bearing blocks. The new series features speeds of up to 386mm/s and linear forces up to 2700N. The linear actuation length and system operating voltages are all changeable and high resolution encoders enable positioning. The EC-i actuation system represents a cost reduction from exiting brushless solutions further widening the use of the devices into general engineering machinery and manufacturing equipment.

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

 

 

More rovers on Mars

In 2020 the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA will send their rovers to Mars. Here’s a comparison of the two machines.

Both rovers are being deployed to Mars in June/July 2020 to looks for signs of life and take soil samples.

Maxon DC motors feature in both the rovers and here we take a look at the difference between the two rovers.

NASA Mars 2020

Mission start: June/July 2020 aboard Rocket Atlas V-541.

There are nine maxon DC brushless motor and drive systems that help collect the soil samples. The EC 32 flat and EC 20 flat motors fitted with planetary gearhead and customised in commission with NASA/ JPL.

ESA ExoMars

Mission start: June/July 2020 aboard Rocket Proton.

More than 50 actuators from maxon assist with the wheel drive, sample distribution and camera movements. There are 17 different configurations of brushed and brushless DC motors including the DCX 10, DCX 22 and EC 40 combined with gearheads, brakes and encoders.

For more information on maxon’s Aerospace capabilities please contact +61 2 9457 7477.

ESA ExoMars 2020 NASA - Mars Rover 2020

 

Autonomous delivery vehicles …..coming soon!

delivery robot

Swiss start-up company TeleRetail is testing a prototype delivery robot that delivers groceries/ small packages autonomously.

Called “mobile trunks” these autonomous delivery robots are small containers on wheels equipped with sensors, intelligent software and powerful maxon DC motors. Made and designed to travel autonomously, reliably and without obstructing or endangering anyone, these small robots reduce congestion on the roads and are more economic to run than an electric car.

Maxon brushless DC motors, the EC 90 flat, features in the mobile trunks. Developed in conjunction with maxon engineers since 2016 the vehicle is still in it’s infancy. Before these delivery robots can be produced en-masse, laws need to change. Currently these types of delivery robots can only move around with the use of special permits away from the large bustling cities.

For assistance with your application please contact maxon motor tel. +61 2 9457 7477.

 

DC motors steering the rear wheels of race cars.

 

Active rear wheel steering drivetech

Maxon actuators, DC motors, gearheads and encoders help to improve the handling and overall driving stability of a race car through rear wheel steering, with up to 3 degrees transfer per side.

A maxon supported Young Engineers Student project is developing mechatronics for steering the rear wheels of a race car. At the heart is a maxon spindle drive (linear actuator) that converts rotational movement into linear movement. Fitted with an EC-4 pole brushless DC motor to provide up to 200W of power, GP32 planetary gearhead for torque and two maxon EPOS2 position controllers with HEDL encoders to set the steer angle of the wheels. The maxon drive system is connected to the cars internal controls to calculate the desired steer angle.

The main issues for the engineers were lightweight, small components, with enough force to set the required steer angle and trustworthiness of the components to work reliably without fail.

For more information on spindle drives or mechatronic engineering applications please contact maxon motor on +61 2 9457 7477.

maxon products in this article

GP32S_HD_450px EC4pole30_long_MR-Encoder_450px  GP32HP_450px
Linear Actuator EC-4 pole DC motor GP32 Planetary gearhead
maxon’s linear actuator (spindle drive) convert the power generated by the motor into feed velocity and feed force. The EC-4 pole DC motors have no cogging torque, high efficiency, and excellent control dynamics. Planetary gearheads are suitable for transferring high torque up to 180 Nm.
     
EPOS2-50-5_347717_V1_6_450px  Encoder_HEDL_5540_cropped  
EPOS2 encoder HEDL sensor  
EPOS is a modular, digital positioning controller by maxon motor. It is suitable for permanent magnet-activated motors plus encoders with a range up to 750 W continuous output power. maxon encoders allow accurate evaluation of the speed & angle position and form the framework for high-precision control loops.  

 

 

 

 

 

22mm High Speed Brushless DC gearmotor in DRS system

When you only have 0.2seconds to move your load maxon motors and gearheads are required.

In 2016 the Academic Motor Sports Club Zurich set a world record for electrically powered vehicles by accelerating to 100km/h in 1.513s. Maxon motors are used in the vital race car Drag Reduction System (DRS). The maxon 22mm Brushless DC motor and high powered 22mm planetary gearhead drive rear airfoil. Rotating 165˚ in 0.2 seconds means the gearhead had to withstand very high forces.

To read the full article please visit the applications area of our website. Or contact our Australian office for application assistance. Ph: +61 2 9457 7477.

EC22_40W_450px      GP22HP_450px

Pictured left maxon EC22 – The EC motors have excellent torque characteristics, high power, and a wide speed range of up to 100,000 rpm.

Pictured right maxon GP22 HP – Planetary gearheads are suitable for transmitting high torques of up to 120 Nm.

 

A new year full of innovation for the leading DC motor specialist.

New site DC motor specialist

 

Welcome to a new year full of exciting technological innovation. maxon motor will again lead the technology push for the most efficient, powerful and dynamic DC motors, gearboxes and controllers.

maxon motor continued to grow in 2016 achieving new records, the maxon motor factory is better, faster and more organised than ever before and all production sites are being expanded. A renewed global focus and streamlining will increase our organisations efficiency with more access to experts in specific application areas. With our increase in capacity and knowledge we will produce more and more complete systems and highly complex sub-assemblies offering further benefits to our customers.

We are eagerly awaiting the Hannover Messe in Germany where maxon motor will present over 18 new products in the 2017/18 program as well as new products launched on the maxon online configuration platform.

I wish all our Australian and New Zealand customers a prosperous year and look forward to helping you succeed.

Brett Motum,
Managing Director, maxon motor Australia
Tel. +61 2 9457 7477