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Motor-driven probe will drill into Mars’ history

Nasa’s InSight probe, which landed on Mars in November 2018, is using a motor-driven probe to penetrate 5m into the Martian surface to shed light on the formation of rocky planets. The lander is scheduled to perform measurements for the next two years that will provide insights into Mars and the formation of the Earth.

EtherCat interface allows third-party access diagnostics

The EtherCat Technology Group (ETG) has developed a specification for a vendor-independent diagnosis interface that will allow third-party tools to access diagnostic information from EtherCat networks. The software-based interface could be implemented in controllers from any manufacturer.

Project shows how to link legacy sensors to IT systems

The Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) has announced results of a testbed project which has been looking at how operators of established manufacturing facilities can connect their sensors to IT systems using existing cabling infrastructure, without affecting real-time operations. The testbed was run by TE Connectivity and SAP, with support from the OPC Foundation and the sensor-maker ifm electronic

ODVA enhances Ethernet/IP to integrate Hart devices

ODVA has published enhancements to the EtherNet/IP specification outlining how to integrate devices that support the Hart Communication Protocol into an EtherNet/IP architecture. It says this will allow Hart users to take advantage of industrial Ethernet.

Friction-based speed-reducing technology challenges gears

A Dutch start-up has developed an alternative speed-reducing technology to gears which, it claims, can deliver higher precision, stiffness, torque densities and efficiencies, at a lower cost and with shorter lead times. Delft-based IMSystems adds that its Archimedes drive is compact, lightweight and backlash-free and can achieve ratios of 10,000:1. IMS is targeting the drive in particular at robots, but it could have other applications.

Tiny PLC board will ‘unleash’ the power of the IIoT

The electronics developer Maxim Integrated has produced a reference PLC design that packs 17 configurable IOs into a space half the size of a credit card. It says that the Go-IO board will “unleash” the full power of the IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) and allow designers to bring greater intelligence into Industry 4.0 factory equipment, while meeting the stringent size and power demands of PLCs.

Google reveals plans to launch cloud robotics platform

Google has announced that it is working on a cloud robotics platform that will combine the power of artificial intelligence, robotics and the cloud. It says that initiative, due to go commercial in 2019, will create “an open ecosystem of automation solutions” using cloud-connected collaborative robots. It will enable efficient robot automation in dynamic environments.

TSN core could simplify real-time Ethernet networks

Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems (IPMS) has developed a TSN IP core to simplify the implementation of endpoints in TSN-capable Ethernet networks. The core consists of modules for time synchronisation, traffic-shaping and Ethernet MAC communications.

Rockwell announces first control devices to support CIP Security

Rockwell Automation has announced the first industrial control products that support CIP Security – the protocol developed by ODVA to protect critical industrial communications as part of a defence-in-depth security strategy

Extending OPC UA to the field level ‘will end fieldbus wars’

The OPC Foundation has announced plans to extend vendor-independent end-to-end interoperability down to field-level devices such as sensors and actuators. This is part of a wider initiative aimed at delivering an open, cohesive approach to implementing OPC UA, including TSN (Time-Sensitive Networking) and associated application profiles, with the ultimate aim of creating a global industrial interoperability standard that integrates field devices with the shop floor.

Novel Hall sensor chip will ‘transform’ brushless DC motors

A Japanese chip-maker has developed a magnetic sensor IC (integrated circuit) that it predicts will “transform” the development, manufacture and performance of brushless DC motors. Ablic, located in Chiba City, claims that its ZCL Hall IC overcomes a weakness with existing bipolar Hall effect ICs, which cannot detect signals passing the 0mT (zero millitesla) south- and north-pole switching points, thus delaying the signal output.

Deep learning machine vision camera is ‘the first’

Flir has announced “the industry’s first deep-learning, inference-enabled machine vision camera”. Called the Firefly, it uses deep learning for more accurate image analysis decisions, and faster, easier development.

Robotic box-builder can handle eight sizes, without changeovers

A US packaging machinery specialist claims to have developed the first machine that can randomly erect boxes of different shapes and sizes, without needing any changeovers. New Jersey-based Xpak says that its Coboxx case erector can handle up to eight different box sizes, without needing to make any manual adjustments or perform any programming. Users can add new sizes via software that allows them to input lengths, widths and heights.

Joystick device is ‘the easiest way to program a robot’

A Texas company claims to have come up with simplest and possibly the quickest way to program almost any industrial robot. Sisu, which describes itself as an “innovator of electromechanical machines and robotic automation”, says that its patent-pending Vudu programming system does not need robot programming expertise, and can be programmed by machinists, welders and other non-programming professionals.

Rare-earth magnets from hard drives are re-used in motors

US researchers have succeeded in recovering rare-earth magnets from old computer hard drives and re-using them, without alteration, in motors. A second group of researchers has developed an acid-free technique for recycling rare-earth magnets and recovering more than 99% pure rare-earth elements.