Category Archives: Miniature – Controllers

Motion Control – Maxon drives are heading to the Red Planet with NASA’s Perseverance Rover!

Motion Control – Application – Maxon drives heading to the Red Planet!

In July, NASA will be sending its fifth rover to Mars. Its main mission is to collect soil samples that will be analyzed on Earth at a later time. The rover will also carry a helicopter that will perform the first flights on the Red Planet. maxon’s precision DC and BLDC motors will be used for numerous mission-critical tasks.

motion control - application - mars rover

 

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Taunton, MA — Motion Control Products & Application – maxon drive systems are very familiar with Mars. Our drives have been used in virtually every successful robotic mission over the last three decades. There are now more than 100 of them on the Red Planet and there are likely to be more soon. The launch window for NASA’s next mission opens on July 22nd. An Atlas V rocket will launch the new Perseverance rover on its way to Mars, where it will be searching for signs of previous life on the planet. Its most important job is to take multiple soil samples, seal them in containers and deposit them on the surface of Mars so that a future mission can return them to Earth. Several maxon motors will be used to handle the samples inside the rover. For example, maxon DC motors are installed in the robotic arm, which moves the samples from station to station. Maxon motors will also be used for sealing and depositing the sample containers.

motion control - maxon drive  to mars

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), is carrying out the mission, and have asked maxon to produce 10 drives for the rover. As with almost all previous Mars missions, these drives are based on standard products from maxon’s catalog with modifications. For the first time, NASA is using brushless DC motors, including: nine EC 32 flat and one EC 20 flat in combination with a GP 22 UP planetary gearhead. Working closely with JPL specialists, maxon engineers developed the drives over several years and tested them thoroughly to achieve the highest standards of quality. “We’ve learned a lot from this exciting project,” says Robin Phillips, head of the maxon SpaceLab. “We now have very broad expertise in space applications and have established quality assurance processes that meet the expectations of the industry. Customers from other industries such as the medical sector, where requirements are often similar, can also benefit from this know-how.”  Space missions place the highest demands on drive systems. This includes vibrations during the rocket launch, vacuum during the journey, impacts on landing, and the harsh conditions on the surface of Mars, where temperatures fluctuate between -125 and +20 degrees Celsius and dust penetrates everywhere

Maxon DC motors control the Mars helicopter.

motion control - maxon drive

The Perseverance rover is expected to land on Mars on February 18, 2021 – but it won’t be alone. A drone helicopter called Ingenuity will be attached to the underside of the rover. It weighs 1.8 kilograms, is solar powered and will perform several short flights, as well as take aerial images. The main goal of this experiment is to test the concept for further drones of this kind. maxon has six brushed DCX motors with a diameter of 10 millimeters controlling the tilt of the rotor blades and the direction of flight. The drives are very light, dynamic and highly energy-efficient. These properties are crucial, because every gram counts on the Mars helicopter. Flying on Mars is not easy. The atmosphere is extremely thin, roughly comparable to the conditions on Earth at an altitude of 30 kilometers. The drone helicopter has flown in a simulated test environment in the JPL laboratory. Whether it will lift off on Mars remains to be seen. First, other obstacles, such as the rocket launch, must be successful. “We hope that everything goes well and that we’ll soon see our drives in action on Mars,” says maxon CEO Eugen Elmiger. “We’re all keeping our fingers crossed.”

motion control maxon miniature motors

For additional information, please contact us at info.us@maxongroup.com or 508-677-0520.

About Maxon

maxon is a developer and manufacturer of brushed and brushless DC motors, as well as gearheads, encoders, controllers, and entire mechatronic systems. With over 50 years of experience in drive technology, maxon works closely with engineers designing high-tech innovations. maxon drives are used wherever the requirements are particularly high: in NASA’s Mars rovers, in surgical power tools, in humanoid robots, and in precision industrial applications. Worldwide, maxon has more than 2800 employees at nine production sites and is represented by sales companies in more than 30 countries. www.maxongroup.com/maxon/view/content/index

Contact maxon for more details https://support.maxongroup.com/hc/en-us/requests/new

Comprehensive documentation and software are included with every delivery, and are also available for you to download from our website at www.maxonmotor.com.

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Motion Control – New from MAXON, Miniaturized Controller the EPOS4 Micro 24/5 CAN!

Motion Control – Miniaturized Controller

motion control micro controller

 

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Taunton, MA — Motion Control Products – Maxon is launching a new, miniaturized controller with a size of only 32 mm x 22 mm as part of its successful line of positioning controllers. The attractive price-performance ratio, with a functionality that’s virtually identical to the larger units, addresses cost-sensitive single- and multi-axis applications.

The functionality, operation, software, and accessories of the new controller are derived almost directly from the existing products in the EPOS4 range. The device is suitable for use with both brushed DC and brushless EC motors (BLDC) of up to 120 W and has comprehensive feedback options such as Hall sensors, as well as digital incremental and SSI absolute encoders. State-of-the art concepts such as Dual Loop, Field Oriented Control (FOC), feed forward, and observer control allow optimal control in a wide variety of applications.

The existing digital and analog inputs and outputs are freely configurable and ideally matched to the numerous functions and operating modes of the CiA-402 positioning controller. The intuitive EPOS Studio start-up software, as well as libraries and programming examples for integration in a wide variety of master systems, are available free of charge and make operation as easy as possible. A plug-and-play EvaluationBoard (EB) is provided for initial commissioning. The offer is rounded out by a comprehensive scope of accessories and detailed product documentation.

The first derivative of this new micro design is the CANopen version, which can also be addressed via RS232 or USB, as usual. In spring 2020, the EPOS4 Micro 24/5 EtherCAT will follow as a second product of similarly small size.

Visit epos.maxongroup.us for the latest updates about EPOS and individual devices, EPOS Studio, as well as all downloads and technical documentation.

About Maxon

maxon is a developer and manufacturer of brushed and brushless DC motors, as well as gearheads, encoders, controllers, and entire mechatronic systems. With over 50 years of experience in drive technology, maxon works closely with engineers designing high-tech innovations. maxon drives are used wherever the requirements are particularly high: in NASA’s Mars rovers, in surgical power tools, in humanoid robots, and in precision industrial applications. Worldwide, maxon has more than 2800 employees at nine production sites and is represented by sales companies in more than 30 countries. www.maxongroup.com

Contact maxon for more details https://support.maxongroup.com/hc/en-us/requests/new

Comprehensive documentation and software are included with every delivery, and are also available for you to download from our website at www.maxonmotor.com.

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Motion Control- A Wide Variety of High-performance Drives from Maxon Motor!

Motion Control – High Performance Drives

maxon, high precision drive specialist, launches high-torque product innovations this Spring. These include higher performance flat motors, drives with higher torque output, and new additions to the GPX gearbox family.

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Taunton, MA — Motion Control Components -The new, maxon EC-i 52 Power up brushless motor meets customer demands for industrial applications with higher torque. The new version of the EC-i 52 now achieves a torque of up to 1 Nm. This increase in performance is due to improved cooling, the ventilated version of the EC-i 52 Power up reaches 420 watts of nominal power.

Another addition to the EC-i family includes the, EC-i 40 High Torque 130 watt brushless motor. This drive was originally developed for power tool applications. To meet the high demand for higher-torque drives, maxon is mass producing the EC-i motor with an additional 34.8 mm in length. The versions with a fan offer up to 100 percent more power.

If required, the EC-i drives may be combined with encoders, gearheads, and a maxon controller in our easy to use online shop: shop.maxongroup.com

EC 45 flat Power up – higher-power flat brushless motor

Using new processes, maxon has developed a rotor for flat motors whose housing is produced by cold forming. The result is the more powerful and less expensive EC 45 flat Power up motor, it is available in two standard versions, as well as in two new versions with either an open rotor or a fan.

Motion Control High Performance Drive

motion control drive from Maxon

ECX Torque 22: Dynamic brushless motors

Brand new additions to the market are the brushless maxon ECX TORQUE motors, which have a diameter of 22 mm and are available in three different lengths. With their iron core and multi-pole rotor design, these motors achieve a very high torque density at moderate speeds, while their low time constant makes them extremely dynamic. The ECX TORQUE motors are available as configurable units ready for shipment in 11 working days.

 

Motion Control - Maxon  High Performance motor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ultra Performance gearhead

A new addition to the GPX gearhead family. In addition to the existing diameters of 22 mm and 32 mm, maxon is launching the larger GPX 42 UP gearhead version. The GPX UP “Ultra Performance” gearheads are extremely efficient.

motion control brushless motor

About Maxon

maxon is a developer and manufacturer of brushed and brushless DC motors, as well as gearheads, encoders, controllers, and entire mechatronic systems. With over 50 years of experience in drive technology, maxon works closely with engineers designing high-tech innovations. maxon drives are used wherever the requirements are particularly high: in NASA’s Mars rovers, in surgical power tools, in humanoid robots, and in precision industrial applications. Worldwide, maxon has more than 2800 employees at nine production sites and is represented by sales companies in more than 30 countries. www.maxongroup.com

Contact maxon for more details https://support.maxongroup.com/hc/en-us/requests/new

Comprehensive documentation and software are included with every delivery, and are also available for you to download from our website at www.maxonmotor.com.

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Motion Control Components Application Exoskeleton! – Maxon Driven – Focus – 2020 Cybathlon!

Motion Control – Application Exoskeleton

“People with disabilities are only disabled if they come up against the insurmountable. But where do the obstacles in our everyday lives come from? From barriers in our minds” … Cybathlon founder Robert Riener.

Motion Control - Application Exoskeleton

 

motion control - Maxon

Taunton, MA — Motion Control Components Application – maxon’s DRIVEN magazine just released a special issue focusing on the 2020 CYBATHLON to be held in Zurich on September 19th and 20th.This is an event where people with physical disabilities compete against each other in obstacle courses with the use of assistance systems such as exoskeletons, bionics prostheses and motorized wheelchairs.

CYBATHLON is so much more than a competition, it is intended to serve as a platform between technology developers, people with disabilities and the public. It’s bringing everyone together under one roof to see where the challenges are and to work towards developing technologies that make everyday life easier for those with physical disabilities.

We, at maxon, are very excited to be a part of this special event. Our drives are perfectly suited for these application – they are precise, compact and extremely efficient. We look forward to seeing all the latest developments and working with the developers on the next generation of assistance systems.

Enjoy this latest issue and if you see a story you’d like to share with your readers, I’d welcome the opportunity to discuss this with you.

About Maxon

maxon is a developer and manufacturer of brushed and brushless DC motors, as well as gearheads, encoders, controllers, and entire mechatronic systems. With over 50 years of experience in drive technology, maxon works closely with engineers designing high-tech innovations. maxon drives are used wherever the requirements are particularly high: in NASA’s Mars rovers, in surgical power tools, in humanoid robots, and in precision industrial applications. Worldwide, maxon has more than 2800 employees at nine production sites and is represented by sales companies in more than 30 countries. www.maxongroup.com

Contact maxon for more details https://support.maxongroup.com/hc/en-us/requests/new

Comprehensive documentation and software are included with every delivery, and are also available for you to download from our website at www.maxonmotor.com.

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Motion Control – Protection Against Contamination: Breathing Clean Air!

Motion Control – Protection Suit Motor!

Maxon DC motors are used in the blower components of high-quality protection suits.

motion control Maxon Motor

 

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Taunton, MA -Motion Control – Protection suits containing an air blower element that fills the entire suit with clean air, have been used by health professionals when faced with contaminated environments. The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented situation where these type of suits have been utilized. Maxon DC brushless motors are found inside these specialized suits. The DC motor is efficient, high-speed and robust.

Maxon was selected for the compact and lightweight DC motor design, ironless winding, strong magnet and producing very little vibration and noise output. Most importantly, a brushless DC motor was mandatory as a brushed motor may cause sparks that would ignite within the suit. When designing the suit, special attention was given to the placement of the blower unit sewn inside the suit, to avoid the need for heavy straps or air supply hoses. A Li-Ion battery provides more than four hours of operation of air supply with a flow up to 600 liters per minute.

 

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

About Maxon

maxon is a developer and manufacturer of brushed and brushless DC motors, as well as gearheads, encoders, controllers, and entire mechatronic systems. With over 50 years of experience in drive technology, maxon works closely with engineers designing high-tech innovations. maxon drives are used wherever the requirements are particularly high: in NASA’s Mars rovers, in surgical power tools, in humanoid robots, and in precision industrial applications. Worldwide, maxon has more than 2800 employees at nine production sites and is represented by sales companies in more than 30 countries. www.maxongroup.com

Contact maxon for more details https://support.maxongroup.com/hc/en-us/requests/new

Comprehensive documentation and software are included with every delivery, and are also available for you to download from our website at www.maxonmotor.com.

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Motion Control – John Uzzolino joins Maxon Group to head up the Parvalux product line in the United States!

Motion Control – John Uzzolino joins Maxon Group 

Motion Control - Maxon Parvalux

 

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Taunton, MA — Maxon Group of Taunton, MA has hired John Uzzolino to head up the business development activities for the Parvalux product line in the United States. In December, Maxon Group acquired the British geared motor manufacturer Parvalux Electric Motor, Ltd. (For additional information Click Here)The acquisition expands the maxon portfolio with DC drives in the power range of up to 1.5 kW, as well as an attractive expansion of maxon group’s already broad motor and motion control portfolio including AC Motors and Worm gearboxes. The acquisition and the addition of Mr. Uzzolino to the team demonstrates maxon group’s continuing commitment to becoming a provider of complete systems. Ultimately, the acquisition opens interesting new markets requiring larger drives and motion systems such as patient handling within the medical technology sector (stair lifts, electric wheelchairs, etc.) and industrial applications (robotics and transport systems, conveyors).

John Uzzolino comes to maxon Group with 20 years’ of experience in industrial motion control and mechatronics applications. John started his career as a Sales Engineer working with a high tech distribution company, focusing on solving motion control and mechatronic applications for machine builders in the Northeast U.S. John then went to work for a local machine builder, helping them bring their automated test and measurement products to the North American market. Most recently, John worked for two European control manufacturers, helping them develop customers in the U.S. market.

As the Business Development Manager for Parvalux, John will be responsible for managing and promoting the Parvalux products in the United States, initially focusing on the industrial and e-mobility markets. “I’m excited to be on board and help bring a strong European brand to the U.S. market,” says John Uzzolino. “Parvalux has positioned themselves well to be a high-quality product at a competitive price, while offering both standard and highly customized solutions globally. Combining this with the ability to now manufacture locally in Massachusetts, positions Parvalux well to build a strong brand here in the U.S.”

motion control - Maxon Parvalux building

About Parvalux

Parvalux is a leading global manufacturer of geared motor solutions with over 70 years’ experience in creating the perfect combination of motor and gearbox to match the customer’s application. Parvalux offer thousands of standard options as well as customization of any motor or gearbox to meet customer requirements. Parvalux products are found in hundreds of applications in healthcare, leisure, mobility, transport, and a diverse range of industrial applications. For more visit www.parvalux.com

About Maxon

maxon is a developer and manufacturer of brushed and brushless DC motors, as well as gearheads, encoders, controllers, and entire mechatronic systems. With over 50 years of experience in drive technology, maxon works closely with engineers designing high-tech innovations. maxon drives are used wherever the requirements are particularly high: in NASA’s Mars rovers, in surgical power tools, in humanoid robots, and in precision industrial applications. Worldwide, maxon has more than 2800 employees at nine production sites and is represented by sales companies in more than 30 countries. www.maxongroup.com

Contact maxon for more details https://support.maxongroup.com/hc/en-us/requests/new

Comprehensive documentation and software are included with every delivery, and are also available for you to download from our website at www.maxonmotor.com.

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Motion Control – Maxon EC-i 30 20W Motor with Integrated Electronics is available from Electromate!

Motion Control – Miniature Integrated Motor
motion control miniature integrated motor

 

Motion Control - Electromate-Logo

 

Vaughan, Ontario, Canada — Motion Control Components — Maxon have released the new EC-i30 20W Brushless Servo Motor with Integrated Electronics. With an integrated 4 Quadrant speed controller, this latest addition to the EC-i portfolio is available as a 5-wire version. Both enable and direction versions of the motor are offered.

This high torque 20Watt 30mm diameter motor is ideal in micro fluid pump (air/gas) and medical applications such as:

  • Vacuum wound therapy
  • Patient vital signs monitoring
  • Anaesthesia and gas monitoring
  • Compression therapy
  • Blood analysers
  • Peritoneal dialysis
  • Haemodialysis
  • Portable oxygen concentrators
  • Gas detection and analysis
  • Fragrance distribution
  • Surgery training systems

The EC-i30 20W Brushless Servo Motor with Integrated Electronics is available with an optional planetary gearhead, model GP32C, and can be customized specific to the needs of the application.

Features include:

  • Cost-effective
  • 20 Watt Rated
  • 24VDC winding
  • 4 Pole Pairs
  • Speed range 250 – 6060 RPM
  • Optional gearheads, encoders and drive electronics

Order your EC-I 30 20W motor with Integrated Electronics online now at-

EC-i 30 20W with Integrated Electronics Brushless Servo Motor Buy Online

Information on the EC-i 30 20W with Integrated Electronics Brushless Servo Motor from maxon can be viewed at:

EC-i 30 20W with Integrated Electronics Brushless Servo Motor Specification

About Electromate:

Electromate’s Core Purpose is to help Manufacturers build better machines using differentiated automation technology. They specialize in Robotic and Mechatronic Solutions for the Industrial Automation marketplace. Respected by customers as a premiere source for High Performance Automation and Motion Control Components & Systems, Electromate® specializes in AC & DC Servo and Stepper Motors & Drives, Motion & Automation Controllers, Positioning Systems & Actuators, Feedback Devices, Gearing Products and HMI’s & Operator Displays, all supported via extensive product selection, just-in-timedelivery, dedicated customer service and technical engineering support.

More on Electromate can be found at

Website: http://www.electromate.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company-beta/209277/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Electromate

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/electromateindustrial/

Google+: https://plus.google.com/104057418684128701566

Blog: https://electromate.wordpress.com/

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To see all of Electromate’s Products and Application Stories featured on MotionShop.com, enter electromate in the Google custom search box (upper left, above)

For further information on this new product or others in our extensive product portfolio, call 1-877-SERVO99 (737-8699) or e-mail Warren Osak at sales@electromate.com or visit Electromate at: www.electromate.com


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Motion Control Application – Driver assist systems can help save lives by alerting driver of potential danger!

Motion Control – Application – Driver Assist Systems Help Save Lives!

 

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motion control - application - brushed motors

Maxon A-max 16 brushed DC motor – This drive with a diameter of 16 millimeters (precious metal brushes, 2 Watt) was developed for use with an eccentric weight and a specified bearing.

Fall River, MA — The majority of traffic accidents are caused by human error. In the future, computer-controlled cars will significantly reduce the number of such accidents. Driver assist systems, such as adaptive cruise control (ACC), brake assist systems, or lane departure warning systems (LDW), can save lives. Lane departure warning systems warn the driver if the vehicle is drifting out of its lane. The LDW determines the vehicle’s position in the lane with the use of various optical sensor systems and computers. If the car is in danger of drifting out of the lane, the system activates an electric motor in the steering wheel that causes the wheel to vibrate, warning the driver.

A luxury car manufacturer has engaged maxon to supply the motors for this application. The base DC brushed motor is maxon’s A-max 16 (precious metal brushes, 2 W), modified for the application with an eccentric weight and a specified bearing. In order to prevent the other vehicle systems from being affected by the electromagnetic fields of the motor, it has been equipped with special EMI suppression for automotive applications. The small drive system must meet specific requirements: It needs to be low-noise, dynamic, feature high power density, and fit in a narrow space – requirements that maxon’s small A-max 16 easily masters..

Contact maxon for more details info@maxonmotorusa.com

Comprehensive documentation and software are included with every delivery, and are also available for you to download from our website at www.maxonmotor.com.

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Motion Control Application – Twenty-twenty Vision – Maxon Components Allow Surgeon to Not only See But to Feel!

Motion Control Application –

While robotic assistance systems are available for most types of surgery today, eye surgery used to be an exception. A Dutch company has changed that. A world first in eye surgery.

 

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motion control component used in eye surgery

© 2016 Preceyes

Fall River, MA — Motion Control Components Application – Worldwide, about 50 to 70 million people are suffering from visual impairment due to disorders of the retina. Adequate treatment is still impossible in many cases. Eye operations are always a big challenge for a surgeon, and steady hands are a key requirement. Surgeries like those for treating a detached retina require extreme precision. And when it comes to precision, human hands can’t hold a candle to robotic systems.

Ten to twenty times better precision

This is why the company Preceyes, which originated as a spin-out from the University of Eindhoven (Netherlands), has developed a completely new robotic system for eye surgery. Specially designed for the treatment of retina disorders, the assistance system improves precision by a factor of 10 to 20 compared with the human hand. This allows operations to be performed that are currently impossible due to lack of precision – an enormous gain for patients, but also for surgeons, whose effectiveness and accuracy will be vastly improved

motion control haptic robotic component

The new robotic system is used in surgery to treat disorders of the retina. Image © Preceyes

The world’s first robot-assisted operation inside the eye was performed successfully at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford. “This is the culmination of 10 years of work. The ease with which Professor MacLaren was able to perform the surgery is an important step ahead for robot-assisted eye operations and a clear vindication of our technology,” says Marc de Smet, MD Chief Medical Officer at Preceyes.

Haptic feedback

The functional principle is straightforward: While the operating surgeon is sitting next to the patient’s head looking through a microscope, he is operating a joystick whose motion is transmitted to a robotic arm (slave). The robot downscales the motion: When the surgeon moves the joystick by a centimeter, the tip of the robotic arm moves only by a millimeter. Meanwhile, the other hand performs manual tasks as required. The system is designed to allow surgeries to be performed with motion control alone as well, using two joysticks and two robotic arms..

In addition to a haptic feedback function that not only lets the surgeon see but also feel his actions, the robotic system also supports quick retooling. This is an important factor because it reduces the time required for an operation. The motions of the robotic arms are performed by high-precision drive systems of maxon.

Contact maxon for more details info@maxonmotorusa.com

Comprehensive documentation and software are included with every delivery, and are also available for you to download from our website at www.maxonmotor.com.

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Motion Control Application – Maxon Drives Power – Hull Cleaning Robot for Large Ships!

Motion Control Application – Specially designed robotic crawler navigates around the underwater portion of a ship to remove the biofilm layers that accumulate there. As a battery operated, autonomous vehicle, component selection made up a highly critical part of the design and manufacture.

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The HullBUG provides grooming of the biofilm that collects on the
underwater portion of ships. © 2011 SeaRobotics

Fall River, MA — Motion Control Components Application – Toxic paint is used on the bottoms of large ships to prevent fouling, which is when a biofilm layer develops, decreasing the ship’s efficiency in moving through the water. The toxic paint continually leeches copper and other heavy metals into the underwater environment as well, causing damage to the organisms that live there. To further complicate the matter, the paint must be blasted off and replaced every 5 to 10 years, at which time literally tons of toxic waste is produced and needs to be disposed of. A ship that operates with a clean underwater surface free from fouling—even thin biofilm layers—will operate so much more efficiently that potential savings can easily reach over five percent in fuel costs alone. Without the concern for fouling, a ship’s underwater coating can be engineered for corrosion protection and longevity rather than its need to eliminate the potential for biofouling. If realized on all the ships operating in the world today the energy savings would greatly reduce the presence of greenhouse gases, as well.

To eliminate the requirement for toxic paint and its cleaning waste, there needed to be a method to “groom” the biofilm from the underwater portion of a ship. The idea was to create important changes for the ships being built as well as for the environment. That is where the HullBUG (Hull Bioinspired Underwater Grooming) concept originated. “The most important feature of the HullBUG is its small size,” according to SeaRobotics Research Engineer, Dr. Kenneth Holappa. “It is only about half a meter in length. This was a necessary design feature, needed to allow the vehicle to maneuver over the curved surface of the hull while continually maintaining close contact with the surface.

This close-up of the HullBUG clearly shows its sensor alignment
system that helps it keep on course while cleaning a hull.

© 2011 SeaRobotics

Because there are hazards associated with operating such a device underwater and in a harbor environment occasionally a HullBUG might be lost or destroyed during operation. Keeping the size and cost of the system low definitely helped to eliminate damage as a major obstacle to implementation. So, from the very beginning of the project, small size and low cost have been identified as being critical to the satisfactory implementation of the HullBUG project. As can be expected, this need to maintain a particular size and weight filtered into the selection of every component of the design.

Motion Control Components

The selection of the motors to drive the HullBUG involved a number of critical engineering constraints and compromises. SeaRobotics decided to make two basic models, one with wheels and one with tracks, and offer several options for keeping track of the system’s progress, which will be discussed later. Sizing of the motors, for example, required a calculated estimate of the power, speed, and torque characteristics of the manufactured devices. Determining factors included the resistance caused from pushing the grooming tool across the surface of the ship, the hydrodynamic resistance of the vehicle itself as it moved through the water, friction losses in the shaft seals that were used to protect the motors from the saltwater, and track or wheel friction dependent on which version of the unit was used.

In this close-up you can see the max-on EC45 brushless motor and
interface boards about to be safely mounted inside the machine.
© 2011 SeaRobotics

maxon motors offers a full line of fractional horsepower moving coil DC motors and brushless motors ranging in size from 6mm to 90mm, and from 30 mW to 500 watts. They also offer gearheads, controllers, and accessories. “The breadth of their product line and quality of their service helped us to feel comfortable that we had selected the right partner,” Ken said. Flat motors manufactured by maxon Precision Motor provide long life along with their low profile package. The entire EC series of brushless motors are electronically commutated, which enables them to have extremely long motor life since there are no mechanical brushes to wear out. The motors incorporate ball bearings or ruby bearings that also add to the longevity of the motors, especially needed in such harsh conditions. The flat motors were designed specifically for robotics applications where size and weight are important selection criteria. The EC45 flat motors selected for the HullBUG are very efficient and weigh only 75 grams. Continuous output power is 30 watts, while the maximum speed is 10,000 rpm (much faster than what was needed for this application). The important specification for this application was torque. Even under the potentially harsh environments that the HullBUG would be engaged in, the EC45 offered a maximum continuous torque up to 56.2 mNm depending on the winding chosen by the user. The Maxon brushless motors are built to IP54 standards, which was important to the application. Furthermore, the motors were also available in the system voltage that SeaRobotics required for the HullBUG application.

According to Ken, “The large load capacity of the shafts of the GP42 gearhead allowed the wheels to directly mount to the gearhead shaft, greatly reducing the complexity of the overall design of the system.” Gearheads manufactured by maxon are available in a wide range of ratios to enhance speed reduction and/or torque multiplication dependent on the needs of the user’s application. Concentric input and output helped to facilitate simpler and more direct mounting arrangements, as well.

Given that the HullBUG vehicle was to be completely autonomous, it had to be designed in such a way as to operate for many hours on batteries (cables would simply get in the way of the grooming operation). In order to maximize battery life, the grooming of the biofilm had to be performed in the most efficient manner possible. Navigating in a random pattern may eventually get the job done, for instance, but not in a reasonable amount of time. Plus, a typical ship presents a very large underwater surface, often as upwards of three thousand square meters. To keep this amount of area groomed it is expected that a user would employ multiple HullBUG vehicles to operate at the same time and, consequently, require a method of acquiring sophisticated coordinated navigation.

Navigating the HallBUG

A toolset of navigation modes has been created to allow multiple HullBUGs to efficiently groom a ship by dividing the ship’s underwater surface into regions. Numerous algorithms have been incorporated to accurately groom the ship in steps down to the turn of the bilge. Additional algorithms and associated sensors are used to allow efficient grooming of the flat bottom of the ship. Miniature acoustic ranging sonar (MARS) is also an option for navigation control of the HullBUG. This is where a very small close range, pencil beam sonar was specifically developed to allow the vehicle to “see” an upcoming wall or cliff condition such as bilge keels and bow thrusters. Yet another mode of navigation uses a MEMS rate sensor for navigation information. Another feedback mode uses encoder based odometry. Hall sensor feedback from the motor is used as an encoder signal to establish an accurate estimate of odometry. Hall sensors were used instead of optical encoders because of size and cost. The Hall sensors provide better than 1mm accuracy in the measurement of odometry with the motor/gearhead combination chosen.

Ongoing Software Development

An autonomous vehicle is often software heavy in terms of engineering efforts once you’ve selected and implemented the proper motion control system. Getting smooth reliable navigation maneuvers that result in accurate positioning in a widely varying environment was one of the more difficult challenges for the design team. Multiple layers of software were necessary for handling the number and variety of possible events that can occur during grooming. And, the proper organization of the control logic to allow extensibility of navigation behavior was the most difficult part of this complex system. “Software development will continue to be an ongoing effort even after the years already put into it,” Ken said. “Though the vehicle is completely operational, there remains a considerable amount of on-ship testing to be done.” As the project moves forward and into the field, there will no doubt be additional issues that will crop up and need to be addressed, as well. Even now, the vehicle must be able to reliably accomplish its task in a hostile environment and in an unmapped terrain. Then it has to be able to return to the waterline of the ship for retrieval.

This operation must be done repeatedly for days, months, and years, and with multiple systems in the water at the same time. Although this sounds as though it is overly difficult, according to Ken, “A technician was recently trained to use the vehicle and was fully competent within a short period of time. The user interface was borrowed from SeaRobotics’ Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) product line and presented an intuitive graphics-driven interface that has hundreds of hours of use by many different customers.” The vehicle is operational and the navigation software is working. The next primary focus will be the structuring of the interface to improve ease of use and allow non-engineering personnel to manage operations.

maxon manufactures a wide variety of EC flat motors for different
kinds of applications. © 2011 maxon motor

Contact maxon for more details info@maxonmotorusa.com

Comprehensive documentation and software are included with every delivery, and are also available for you to download from our website at www.maxonmotor.com.

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