Drives and Controls Magazine
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.

‘Revolutionary’ system turns controls into cabinets

UPDATED:  Beckhoff has announced “a revolution in control cabinet construction” in which an industrial controller becomes, in effect, a modular control cabinet, avoiding the need for conventional enclosures. The company believes that its “flexible, space-optimised and intelligent” MX system will change the way we design and build both control cabinets and automation systems in general.

ABB invests in 3D navigation start-up to guide future AMRs

ABB is taking a stake in a Swiss start-up that has developed a technology that allows mobile robots to navigate autonomously through complex, dynamic indoor and outdoor environments close to people and other objects. The company, Sevensense Robotics, founded in 2018 as a spin-off from the ETH Zurich university, uses AI (artificial intelligence) and 3D mapping technologies that are claimed to be more accurate than today’s 2D systems, and resulting in navigation that is more cost-effective than systems based on laser scanners.

Controller makes mass personalisation a reality

Omron has developed what it describes as the world’s first automation architecture for personalisation at scale. It says that its Robotic Integrated Controller (RIC) will make made-to-order mass production commercially viable for FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) businesses for the first time.

VW installs 5G network, paving way to smarter plants

Volkswagen has commissioned a standalone 5G wireless network at its main plant in Wolfsburg, Germany, to test whether 5G meets the demands of vehicle production, before adopting the technology more widely in the future. One scenario being tested during the pilot phase will be to upload data wirelessly to manufactured vehicles. With increasing levels of digitisation in vehicles, large amounts of data need to be transmitted to cars during production. 5G will make it possible to perform this much faster, and at any time during production.

3D collision-avoiding sensor works like bat echolocation

A German start-up has developed a 3D collision-avoidance sensor that mimics a bat’s echolocation techniques. Munich-based Toposens, founded in 2015, says that existing sensor technologies based on radar, ultrasound or cameras, can be negatively impacted by lighting conditions or moisture. By comparison, its Echo One DK generates robust, real-time 3D echo location data to guide autonomous systems in a variety of applications. The IP67-protected sensor is said to be particularly robust, tolerating dirt and not being affected by dust, smoke or mist.

30-tonne rack-and-pinion is ‘world’s most powerful’

A Swedish manufacturer has developed what it claims will be the world’s most powerful rack-and-pinion drive, capable of handling loads of more than 30 tonnes. Stockholm-based Cascade Drives believes that its “pioneering” electromechanical actuator technology has many advantages over hydraulic-based systems, including better pressure stabilisation in pumping applications, reduced need for maintenance, a lower risk of contamination by hydraulic fluid leaks, and energy savings of up to 60%.

Speckle-free laser doubles 3D image processing speeds

Cognex claims to have eliminated the speckle effect from laser lines, thus improving triangulation-based 3D imaging. It has incorporated its patented speckle-free technology into an embedded vision system which, it says, can achieve inspection speeds twice as fast as rival products.

Industrial edge 'first' will accelerate journey to I 4.0

Nokia has launched what it describes as industry’s first off-the-shelf, mission-critical industrial edge, designed to accelerate the journey to Industry 4.0 for asset-intensive sectors such as manufacturing, energy and transportation, helping them to digitalise their operations with high performance, reliability and security. The scalable Nokia MX Industrial Edge (MXIE) addresses a new category of I4.0 applications that require increased capabilities and performance at the network edge, and tight integration with industrial and networking systems.