Drives and Controls Magazine
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.

AI chip analyses vibration data, cutting costs and energy use

An Israeli semiconductor specialist has developed an AI-based vibration-monitoring chip that processes vibration data on-board, greatly reducing the amount of data that needs to be transmitted to the cloud, thus cutting power consumption and supporting energy-harvesting designs. Polyn Technology says that by reducing the amount of data transmitted by a factor of around 1,000, its VibroSense chip will cut costs and improve ROIs.

Microsoft and Nvidia deliver industrial metaverse via cloud

Microsoft and Nvidia are collaborating to offer “hundreds of millions” of Microsoft enterprise users access to the industrial metaverse and to AI supercomputing resources via the cloud.

UK-developed robot arm works inside aircraft wings

A Dorset automation specialist has developed a robot arm that can perform sealing, inspection and other operations inside aircraft wings and other confined spaces. Loop Technology worked on the four-year project – funded by a grant from the UK’s ATI (Aerospace Technology Institute) – in partnership with Belfast-based Spirit AeroSystems, which led the project.

Geckos inspire gripper that can grasp almost anything

The Chinese-American robotics developer Flexiv has announced a “revolutionary” robotic gripper that can lift almost anything that fits in its grasp, including oddly shaped items or those with uneven surface textures. Flexiv says that the Grav gripper, which uses an adhesive material modelled on geckos’ feet, represents the next generation of robotic grippers.

Voice commands control machines even in noisy factories

German researchers claim to have developed a way to control industrial machines reliably using voice commands, even in noisy factories. The researchers, from the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology (IDMT) in Oldenburg, say that using intuitive voice commands will allow shopfloor personnel to keep both hands free and to work more efficiently.

Custom gearboxes will ‘revolutionise’ transmission market

The German gearbox-maker Flender has announced a new generation of single-stage helical gearboxes which, it predicts, will revolutionise the market. The company – previously owned by Siemens, which sold it to the investment firm Carlyle in 2020 – says that the new Flender One gearbox sets new benchmarks for efficiency, operating costs, ease of ordering and maintenance, with every box having onboard monitoring and analysis to help avoid failures.

Smart on-battery electronics eliminates the need for inverters

A German start-up has come up with a technology that does away with the need for converters in battery-powered systems. The “AC battery” system, developed by Munich-based Bavertis, uses electronics to reconfigure battery cells several thousand times per second, and allows the battery to generate AC directly.

UK-developed 400kW motor is ‘most power-dense’ of its type

The UK powertrain developer, Equipmake, has unveiled an ultra-lightweight electric motor which, it claims, is the most power-dense of its type in the world. The HPM-400 motor has been designed for high-performance space, aerospace and marine applications.

Platform unites robots and sensors, boosting development

An Israeli developer of robot software has announced a new capability that integrates autonomous robots with sensors, cameras and automation systems, thus cutting robot development times by up to 60%. Cogniteam says, for example, that the development will allow cameras and other sensors to track autonomous robots as they collect laboratory samples, picking a path that gives them uninterrupted access.

Chainless drive gives a novel spin to e-cargo bikes

Schaeffler has partnered with the German drive specialist Heinzmann to develop a chainless electric drive system for cargo and utility bikes that achieves efficient power transmission from the pedal to the wheel. By doing away with chains, belts, gear rings, sprockets and other mechanical drive components, the Free Drive system is much less prone to mechanical wear, reducing the need for maintenance.

Trio develop a 5G alternative to control cables for hoists

Schneider Electric, Capgemini and Qualcomm have collaborated to develop a “first-of-its-kind” 5G-based system to replace wired connections – including control cables and video links – in industrial crane and hoisting systems. 5G’s low latency allows the system to replace fibre and copper cables for remote-control operations, simplifying networks, reducing wiring and providing reliable long-term connections.

‘Revolutionary’ software lets anyone program robots

A French developer has announced “revolutionary” software that allows non-experts to program and simulate almost any type of industrial robot, without needing to do any coding. Fuzzy Logic says that its Fuzzy Studio software will allow industrial users to create virtual cells and to robotise their production at an affordable price with low risk, even in situations that were once considered impossible – such as for small batches or complex parts.

‘First force-controlled parallel robot’ senses forces down to 0.1N

A Chinese robot developer has announced what it describes as “the world’s first force-controlled parallel robot”. Shanghai-based Flexiv says that its Moonlight robot will be ideal for applications that require precision motion and force control, such as fastening screws, polishing and handling precision loads.

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.