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Move away from control cabinets gathers pace

One automation trend that has been gaining traction in recent years is the move towards control systems that use rugged, decentralised, modular components instead of traditional centralised control cabinets. At the recent SPS exhibition in Germany, there were several companies were showing the latest examples of this trend in practice.

Three partners develop deep learning for vision systems

ABB-owned B&R Automation is enhancing its smart cameras with powerful deep learning functions. It has formed a three-way collaboration with the German machine vision software specialist MVTec and the Israeli AI chip developer Hailo to turn its cameras into powerful edge devices.

Can the ChatGPT AI bot be used to program PLCs?

A PLC expert has tested the PLC programming knowledge and capabilities of ChatGPT – the online chatbot that has attracted a huge amount of publicity since it was launched last November. Jakob Sagatowski, a PLC software engineer based in Germany, has posed a series of questions to the chatbot and recorded the results in a YouTube video.

World’s smallest servodrives get even smaller

Just months after claiming to have set a new world record for the smallest servodrive, the Spanish developer Ingenia has produced an even smaller device – a 250W drive that measures 33 x 17.6 x 6mm, and weighs just a mere 6 grammes. The new Denali drives are aimed at applications such as robots, industrial grippers and lab automation systems.

OS links IT to OT and frees users from proprietary limits

The German connectivity and automation supplier Weidmüller has developed an automation operating system that links the worlds of OT (operational technology) and IT and will allow automation engineers to assemble customised Web-based systems. Called u-OS, the system is based on open standards such as Linux, container technology and OPC UA, and can integrate custom apps, apps from third-party developers, as well as apps developed by Weidmüller itself.

3D cameras will no longer be dazzled by bright light

Two German companies, Jabil and Osram, have collaborated a Lithuanian OEM manufacturer Artilux to develop a 3D camera technology that can operate in both indoor and bright outdoor environments, with a sensing range of up to 20m.

Robot tool has precision painting application taped

A pair of robotics companies based in the US and Austria have joined forces to develop an end-of-arm tool that allows robots to apply masking tape for painting applications, especially in the aerospace industry.

Rexroth opens up real-time OS to third parties

Bosch Rexroth has opened up its real-time Linux-based operating system, which it has previously used exclusively for its ctrlX Core controls, to third-party suppliers. The hardware-independent ctrlX OS can be used by other automation suppliers to connect their components to the ctrlX Automation portfolio, including items developed by partner companies on Rexroth’s ctrlX World platform. There are currently more than 60 partners offering 50 downloadable apps from the ctrlX Store.

Platform automates robot deployment, slashing set-up times

OnRobot, the Danish specialist in add-on technologies for cobots (collaborative robots), has launched a new flagship platform which it describes as “the industry’s first automated platform for building, running, monitoring, and re-deploying collaborative applications”. Called D:Ploy, it automates the process of getting robot applications up and running, allowing complete applications to be deployed and redeployed on factory floors in a few simple steps, with no programming – all within a few hours.

PCB-stator axial-flux motor offers “class-leading” efficiency

Infinitum, the Texas-based developer of air-core motors with PCB stators, has announced a next-generation, axial-flux propulsion and traction motor that delivers high power and torque density and operates with “class-leading” efficiency over a wide range of speeds and load conditions to maximise vehicle ranges on or off road, on water, or in the air.

Belt-driven rival to hydraulic actuators wins US patent

Rise Robotics, the US developer of an electromechanical alternative to high-power hydraulic actuators, has been granted a US patent for its high-reduction, belt-driven linear actuator technology.

System promises installation time savings of up to 70%

Murrelektonik has developed a technology that, it says, will help to avoid errors during automation installations, and deliver time savings of up to 70%. The uKonn-X system is designed to make the planning and installation of automation technologies more efficient. The company describes the development as “the first seamless, digitally and visually supported system with bidirectional communication between design, development, assembly and commissioning”.

Drives with onboard condition-monitoring avoid sensors

The German drive and automation supplier Baumüller has developed a software-based condition monitoring technology integrated into a servodrive that can avoid the need for costly sensors. The company suggests that machine-builders could use the function to create new business models that offer their customers additional data-driven services.

UK axial-flux motors power clean outboard motors for boats

A Dutch offshoot of the UK axial-flux motor developer Saietta is about to start production of an electrically powered outboard motor for boats that, it believes, will pose a significant challenge to traditional outboard engines, especially as emissions legislation drives a move towards electric power. In Amsterdam, for example, all new vessels will have to be electrically powered by 2025, and it is predicted that 74% of outboard motor sales in Europe will be electric by 2030.

‘Ground-breaking’ machine vision tech sets new benchmarks

A Californian company has launched what it claims is the most compact and powerful coherent machine vision system available, with the highest resolution and precision, and the longest operating range. SiLC Technologies says its Eyeonic Vision System sets new benchmarks, delivering the highest levels of vision perception to identify and avoid objects with extremely low latency, even at distances of 1km or more.