Drives and Controls Magazine
Standardised box PCs will end proprietary design limitations

A consortium of industrial PC specialists is developing a specification for a standardised modular box PC that will guarantee interoperability of PCs from different suppliers, while offering cost-sensitive integrated designs.

Voice-controlled robot programming is ‘90% faster’

Mitsubishi Electric has developed a technology that, it claims, will allow industrial robots to perform tasks such as sorting and arranging, as quickly as humans, without needing to be taught by specialists. It says that the technology – which uses speech recognition to issue voice instructions to robots – will allow them to be programmed and fine-tuned in 10% or less of the time needed for conventional approaches.

Tests show that 5G out-performs Wi-Fi for AMRs

Kollmorgen has joined forces with Ericsson to test the use of 5G transmissions on AMRs (autonomous mobile robots). They believe that 5G will enable new levels of AI and machine learning, simplify infrastructure requirements, and increase network stability for AMR applications.

Soft 3D sensor gives robots a sense of touch

A Belgian microelectronic sensor specialist has developed tactile 3D sensor for robots that will make their grippers sensitive enough for delicate operations such as picking fruit. The Tactaxis sensor, from Melexis, has a force resolution is 2.7mN – enough to distinguish changes in weight as small as 0.3g. The technology has already been implemented in a functioning prototype.

Supercar motor delivers ‘record’ performance

The Swedish supercar manufacturer Koenigsegg has developed an electric motor that combines radial (power-dense) and axial (torque-dense) flux topologies to produce a machine which, it claims, delivers the best torque-to-power-to-weight ratio available. The car-maker says that its Quark motor is smaller and lighter than any other in its class, with the first production version weighing just 30kg, yet capable of producing up to 250kW of power and 600Nm of torque.

Rapid roaming tech helps to keep mobile equipment connected

A Californian communications specialist has come up with a relatively low-cost technology that allows communications to be maintained with vehicles or autonomous robots as they move around a site. Antaira says that its “rapid roaming Wi-Fi” technology overcomes the 100m range limitation of Wi-Fi communications based on the 802.11ac standard. It argues that this range is usually not enough to ensure reliable operation and requires multiple access points (APs) to be installed to cover a large area, with vehicles or robots constantly having to switch from one AP to the next with a strong signal as they move around.

Technology clarifies rationale behind AI-based controls

Mitsubishi Electric has collaborated with the Japanese Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (Riken) to develop a technology that, they say, clarifies the rationale underpinning AI-based control systems.

€1.6m EU grant will help to build plant to re-use industrial oils

The European Commission has awarded SKF a €1.62m grant to install and operate a plant to regenerate industrial oils in Tudela, Spain. The project – due to come onstream in the second quarter of 2022 – will remove contaminants from used oils and return them to the same condition as they were when new, thus cutting CO2 emissions.

Radar sensor gauges micron distances in tough locations

A German start-up company called Ondosense has launched a radar-based sensor for measuring distances which, it claims, is the most precise and fastest on the market, with the widest measuring range and the smallest blind range. The OndoSense apex sensor promises accuracies of up to 1µm, a sensing range of 0.1-50m, and high (300Hz) operating frequencies. The lens of has an opening angle of just 4 degrees, ensuring reliable measurements using a tiny measuring spot.

Piggyback robots test infotainment systems in Fiat 500 EVs

The Italian car-maker Fiat is using a pair of robots, combined with powerful AI-based software, to automate the testing of infotainment systems in its new all-electric Fiat 500 cars. Testing such systems has traditionally been a repetitive, time-consuming process carried out by human operators at a high cost and with a significant risk of errors.

Intel, Moxa and port join forces on wireless TSN over Ethernet

Three companies – the industrial communications specialist Moxa, the chip-maker Intel, and the German software stack developer, port industrial automation – have collaborated to develop and demonstrate a “game-changing” platform that they say is the first application-to-application use of time-sensitive networking (TSN). The platform combines Gigabit bandwidths, high performance, reliability and security, with the potential for wireless communications.

Porsche will use 5G to control robots in real time without cables

Porsche is installing a 5G network at it Macan body shop in Leipzig, Germany, which will allow it to control robots in real time without using cables. The installation – Porsche’s first private 5G network – is part of a research partnership between the high-performance car-maker and the communications specialist Ericsson, aimed at cutting production times and costs, improving quality, and increasing worker safety.

Multi-role wireless passive sensor is ‘the world’s smallest’

A Slovak company claims to have come up with the world’s smallest passive wirelesss sensor technology, which can directly measure variables such as pressure, temperature and magnetic field strength, as well as derived quantities such as torsion, stress and flow, without making contact or needing a direct power supply.

Wireless power and data is ‘quantum leap’ for production lines

The German automation giant Beckhoff claims to have achieved a “quantum leap” in production line flexibility by developing a technology that transmits power and data wirelessly to and from “movers” on its the XTS production transport system. It says that development will open up many new possibilities such as the ability to handle, process, measure and weigh items on the movers.

AI optimises factory automation processes in real time

Mitsubishi Electric and Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) say they have developed an AI (artificial intelligence) technology that makes real-time adjustments to factory automation (FA) equipment while it is running. As well as eliminating the need for time-consuming manual adjustments, the AI estimates the confidence level of inferences regarding factors such as machining errors, and then controls the FA equipment based on suitable levels of confidence.