Drives and Controls Magazine
MIT’s megawatt motor could help to electrify aviation

A team of engineers at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) in the US are working on a 1MW motor that, they believe, could be a key stepping stone toward electrifying larger aircraft. They have designed and tested the motor’s main components, and shown through detailed computations that the parts could work together to generate 1MW at a weight and size competitive with current small aero-engines. The researchers plan to assemble and start testing a fully working motor later this year.

SiC module will lead to smaller, more efficient industrial kit

Mitsubishi Electric has announced a silicon carbide (SiC) power semiconductor module for industrial applications that it says will result in smaller, more efficient and lighter industrial equipment.

Whale’s tail inspires ‘revolutionary’ propulsion concept

ABB has announced a “revolutionary” electric motor-driven marine propulsion system that, it claims, breaks new ground for efficiency in the marine industry. Inspired by the dynamic movements of a whale’s tail, the system – called Dynafin – is the result of more than a decade of research, development, and testing. The first prototype is expected to be available in 2025.

Digital twins help cobots to build more cobots faster

The Taiwanese cobot (collaborative robot) manufacturer Techman has turned to digital simulation to help it cut inspection times on its cobot assembly line by around 20%.

First cobot-based spot welder is ‘the future of spot welding’

A Californian welding specialist has developed what it claims is the world’s first cobot-based spot welder. Pro Spot International says that its i5s resistance spot welder will deliver up to three times more manufacturing capacity than manual welding.

AI system automates previously impossible screwdriving tasks

The German screwdriving technology specialist Deprag has joined forces with the Berlin robotics software developer Micropsi Industries to develop what they claim is the first automated screwdriving system that can handle changes in the environment. They say that such automation has not been possible, or economically feasible, using previous technologies.

UK project uses robots to embed wiring in components

British researchers have been working on a £1.7m project to accelerate automation in the aerospace industry by using a novel robotic system to embed wiring into complex aircraft components. The venture, called Project LiveWire, has been led by Bristol-based Q5D Technologies, working in collaboration with the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC). The two-year collaborative project, funded by Innovate UK as part of the ATI (Aerospace Technology Institute) programme, also involved other companies including OnePLM, M-Solv and Safran.

Robotic picker has an efficiency of at least 99.5%

ABB Robotics has launched an AI-based system that detects and picks items in unstructured environments in warehouses and fulfilment centres with an efficiency claimed to be better than 99.5%. The robotic item picker can handle up to 1,400 unsorted items per hour, each weighing up to 3kg.

Servomotors talk via wireless IO-Link rather than cables

The Italian motor manufacturer Siboni has developed a range of servomotors that use wireless IO-Link links to controllers instead of conventional cable connections. The high-speed, low-latency communications technology is said to offer practical and cost benefits, especially in applications such as packaging machinery and robots where high-speed rotary movements make conventional connections difficult to install and maintain.

GPT AI tool will enhance maintenance and efficiency

A Californian industrial software developer has announced a generative AI (artificial intelligence) tool designed to help manufacturers to train and test predictive maintenance models at the industrial edge. EoT (Embassy of Things) says that its patent-pending Twin Talk GPT system will help users to improve their operational efficiency and decision-making.

AI navigation ‘transforms’ the performance of AMRs

ABB Robotics says it has transformed its AMRs (autonomous mobile robots) by adding a technology that allows them to make intelligent navigation decisions in challenging environments. Using AI-enabled 3D vision to perform location and mapping functions, the Visual Slam (simultaneous localisation and mapping) technology will speed up production, making it more flexible and efficient, while cutting commissioning times by up to 20%, reducing the need for calibration and avoiding infrastructure changes.

‘Highest precision’ controllers can cut defects and wastage

Omron has launched a new generation of automation controllers that it claims offer the world’s highest precision data collection and large-capacity transfer capabilities, leading to rapid improvements in processes that cause defective products, as well as cutting wastage. The NX502-1x00 CPUs also boast a control technology for large-scale and high-speed safety that Omron says will cut lead times when making changes on production lines.

Chatbot add-on automates controller programming

The German automation manufacturer Beckhoff has announced at the Hannover Messe that it has developed an AI-supported chatbot add-on for its TwinCat XAE engineering environment that will help users to automate tasks such as creating and optimising PLC function block coding, and generating documentation. It can also complete missing code from function blocks, or restructure code for better readability.

First ‘virtual PLC’ will allow software-based automation

Siemens is presenting a virtual PLC (programmable logic controller) for the first time at the 2023 Hannover Messe. The Simatic S7-1500V is designed to meet special requirements such as the virtual hosting of PLC computing. In future, Siemens plans to offer virtual PLCs alongside its traditional hardware controllers.

Real-time scanner will ‘revolutionise’ 3D measurements

Pepperl+Fuchs has combined two technologies – Lidar and Mems (microelectromechanical systems) – to come up with a system that measures distances in 3D from a few centimetres to several hundred metres, with millimetre accuracy. The R3000 Lidar/Mems sensor, which makes its debut at this month’s Hannover Messe, can capture complex, dynamic scenes in real time, with potential applications ranging from automated guided vehicles to service robots and beyond.