Category Archives: Human Robots
Spherical Induction Motor Eliminates Robot’s Mechanical Drive System
PITTSBURGH— More than a decade ago, Ralph Hollis invented the ballbot, an elegantly simple robot whose tall, thin body glides atop a sphere slightly smaller than a bowling ball. The latest version, called SIMbot, has an equally elegant motor with just one moving part: the ball.
The only other active moving part of the robot is the body itself.
The spherical induction motor (SIM) invented by Hollis, a research professor in Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute, and Masaaki Kumagai, a professor of engineering at Tohoku Gakuin University in Tagajo, Japan, eliminates the mechanical drive systems that each used on previous ballbots. Because of this extreme mechanical simplicity, SIMbot requires less routine maintenance and is less likely to suffer mechanical failures.
The new motor can move the ball in any direction using only electronic controls. These movements keep SIMbot’s body balanced atop the ball.
Early comparisons between SIMbot and a mechanically driven ballbot suggest the new robot is capable of similar speed — about 1.9 meters per second, or the equivalent of a very fast walk — but is not yet as efficient, said Greg Seyfarth, a former member of Hollis’ lab who recently completed his master’s degree in robotics.
Induction motors are nothing new; they use magnetic fields to induce electric current in the motor’s rotor, rather than through an electrical connection. What is new here is that the rotor is spherical and, thanks to some fancy math and advanced software, can move in any combination of three axes, giving it omnidirectional capability. In contrast to other attempts to build a SIM, the design by Hollis and Kumagai enables the ball to turn all the way around, not just move back and forth a few degrees.
Though Hollis said it is too soon to compare the cost of the experimental motor with conventional motors, he said long-range trends favor the technologies at its heart.
“This motor relies on a lot of electronics and software,” he explained. “Electronics and software are getting cheaper. Mechanical systems are not getting cheaper, or at least not as fast as electronics and software are.”
SIMbot’s mechanical simplicity is a significant advance for ballbots, a type of robot that Hollis maintains is ideally suited for working with people in human environments. Because the robot’s body dynamically balances atop the motor’s ball, a ballbot can be as tall as a person, but remain thin enough to move through doorways and in between furniture. This type of robot is inherently compliant, so people can simply push it out of the way when necessary. Ballbots also can perform tasks such as helping a person out of a chair, helping to carry parcels and physically guiding a person.
Until now, moving the ball to maintain the robot’s balance has relied on mechanical means. Hollis’ ballbots, for instance, have used an “inverse mouse ball” method, in which four motors actuate rollers that press against the ball so that it can move in any direction across a floor, while a fifth motor controls the yaw motion of the robot itself.
“But the belts that drive the rollers wear out and need to be replaced,” said Michael Shomin, a Ph.D. student in robotics. “And when the belts are replaced, the system needs to be recalibrated.” He said the new motor’s solid-state system would eliminate that time-consuming process.
The rotor of the spherical induction motor is a precisely machined hollow iron ball with a copper shell. Current is induced in the ball with six laminated steel stators, each with three-phase wire windings. The stators are positioned just next to the ball and are oriented slightly off vertical.
The six stators generate travelling magnetic waves in the ball, causing the ball to move in the direction of the wave. The direction of the magnetic waves can be steered by altering the currents in the stators.
Hollis and Kumagai jointly designed the motor. Ankit Bhatia, a Ph.D. student in robotics, and Olaf Sassnick, a visiting scientist from Salzburg University of Applied Sciences, adapted it for use in ballbots.
Getting rid of the mechanical drive eliminates a lot of the friction of previous ballbot models, but virtually all friction could be eliminated by eventually installing an air bearing, Hollis said. The robot body would then be separated from the motor ball with a cushion of air, rather than passive rollers.
“Even without optimizing the motor’s performance, SIMbot has demonstrated impressive performance,” Hollis said. “We expect SIMbot technology will make ballbots more accessible and more practical for wide adoption.”
The National Science Foundation and, in Japan, Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research (KAKENHI) supported this research. A report on the work was presented at the May IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Stockholm, Sweden.
Video by: Carnegie Mellon University
About Carnegie Mellon University: Carnegie Mellon (www.cmu.edu) is a private, internationally ranked research university with programs in areas ranging from science, technology and business, to public policy, the humanities and the arts. More than 13,000 students in the university’s seven schools and colleges benefit from a small student-to-faculty ratio and an education characterized by its focus on creating and implementing solutions for real problems, interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation.
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Neural networks work so well because they roughly reflect the structure of the underlying universe around us, new research suggests.
Servosila, a robotics technology company, announced a launch of a new line of robotic arm manipulators specifically targeted at mobile robotics market.
“Servosila Robotic Arms are the first manipulators specifically designed for mobile robots,” – said the company’s spokesperson, – “it is very easy to retrofit any existing robotic chassis or a torso with a Servosila Robotic Arm”.
Servosila Robotic Arms are attachable payload modules for mobile service robots or other robotic platforms. Servosila Robotic Arms shall typically be mounted on a chassis or a torso of a mobile robot and be powered by an on-board power supply system of the host robotic platform.
The robotic arms can be used both outdoors and indoors. The arms are water-tight, dust-proof and function properly in the rain and in the snow. The arms are designed to withstand impacts, collisions with obstacles and, in general, the harsh treatment so common to mobile robotics applications.
The servo drives and external electrical connectors of the robotic arms are water-tight and dust-proof (IP68 rating). The entire arm can be occasionally submersed in water without any adverse effects on its performance. The robotic arms may be operated in cold or hot weather.
Mobile robots tend to bump into things and hit obstacles while on the move. The harsh nature of outdoor mobile robotics applications caused a profound effect on the design of Servosila Robotic Arms, especially on the internal structure of servo drives and their harmonic reduction gears.
There are no exposed cables on the outside of the robotic arms that could be torn off when a mobile robot moves through bushes or forests.
Numerous protection measures built into electronic servo controllers and mechanical parts of Servosila Robotic Arms ensure reliable operation on-board of outdoor mobile service robots.
Servosila Robotic Arms are lightweight by design. For a given lifting capability, Servosila Robotic Arms have a significantly lower weight than their industrial counterparts. The lower weight of a Servosila Robotic Arm enables a mobile robot equipped with the arm to operate longer on a single battery charge, keep its center of gravity lower for better balance, climb stairs easier or have a superior mobility.
When not in an active use, Servosila Robotic Arms can folded into a very compact form that doesn’t occupy much space on the top of a robotic chassis or on the side of a torso. This feature protects the robotic arm of a mobile robot in case of an unexpected collision with an obstacle or whenever a rough terrain is encountered by the mobile robotic platform. The compact folded form also comes handy during transportation.
By folding its robotic arm into the compact form, the robot frees up its working area for other payloads to operate in. This is useful in case the robot is equipped with additional payloads other than the robotic arm.
Photo Credits: Servosila Limited (Hong Kong)
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Technology Innovation at CHINAPLAS 2017
Accelerates Upgrade and Transformation of the Plastics & Rubber Industries
Featuring lightweight, strong plasticity, excellent chemical characteristics and high cost-performance, plastics and rubber are widely used in all walks of life, and the whole world witnessed the rapid development of plastics and rubber industries in recent years. In a sense, the application of plastics and rubber improves the overall living standards of people all around the globe, whilst acceleration of plastics consumption reversely pushes the manufacturing industry towards upgrading and transformation. As the international community advocates and calls for sustainable development and green economy, the global plastics and rubber industries are moving towards the direction of intelligent manufacturing, green and environmentally friendliness, innovation and high efficiency.
As the second largest plastics and rubber exhibition in the world, after K show in Germany, CHINAPLAS is a well-known trade fair with all-round demonstration of innovative achievements from home and abroad. It serves as a great platform for idea inspiration, technological innovation, and business exchange for the plastics and rubber industries. With the release of numerous new technologies, the last edition of CHINAPLAS was highly appraised by the visitors from all over the world. The show organizer assured that more new technologies will be further unveiled in the coming CHINAPLAS 2017 which will focus on “Intelligent Manufacturing, High-tech Materials and Green Solutions”, with exhibits and solutions covering every stage of the product lifecycle in different sectors, such as E&E and telecom, automotive, packaging, building & construction, medical, etc., fully illustrating CHINAPLAS’ position as a technology and business platform with high-tech content, high value and high standards.
Automation Technology – the best way to intelligent manufacturingNowadays the hottest topic is all about intelligent manufacturing. Several countries unveiled their industrial development plans, such as “Industry 4.0” by Germany, “Industrial Internet” by the United States, Japan’s “Robot Strategy”, China’s “Made in China 2025”, etc. All of these advocate the acceleration of industrial transformation, with focus on smart intelligent manufacturing.
Confronting the problems, such as high labor cost and low production efficiency, most enterprises are in urgent needs of highly automated and interconnected factory technology. The “Automation Technology Zone” will be set up once again in the coming Guangzhou edition. According to the organizer, the exhibitor’s line-up will be more magnificent in terms of exhibition area than that of Guangzhou edition held in 2015. It is expected that plenty of overseas well-known exhibitors, including ABB, Siemens, Mitsubishi, Bosch Rexroth, Universal Robots, Staubli, Delta Greentech, Lite-On Electronic to name but a few, will present their advanced solutions. In addition, the zone will welcome Taiwan Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers’ Association which will organize the participation group to CHINAPLAS for the first time.
What’s worth mentioning is that the exhibits are also of novelty. Many collaborative robots will be on display to comply with the trend of man-machine collaboration and artificial intelligence technology. Intelligent factory related solutions will also be brought to the zone. All these will jointly serve the goal of realizing intelligent manufacturing and production automation, promoting output, efficiency and quality, enabling lean production while controlling costs and reducing manpower.
Besides stand-alone machines, the “Automation Technology Zone” will showcase the entire production lines as well. Visitors can experience the concept and practice of intelligent manufacturing or fully automated production line there. Industry 4.0 Conference will be held concurrently, spotlighting the concept and practice of industry 4.0.
High-tech Materials cater for sophisticated downstream needs
At the time of advocating “low-carbon economy”, the high-tech materials enjoy a bright future. With acceleration of artificial intelligence commercialization, and the advent of new energy vehicles, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and virtual reality (VR) technology, coupling with the speedy development of rail transportation and aerospace industries, the requirements set for high-tech plastics, rubber and elastomer will be higher, and enhancement of their performance will become more important.
CHINAPLAS 2017 will bring together the world’s top plastics material suppliers in the “Chemicals and Raw Materials Zone”, “Composite & High Performance Materials Zone” and “Bioplastics Zone” , which focus on high-end innovative materials featuring high separation, high transparency, boiling resistance, UV resistance, antibacterial, ultra-high strength, avoid spraying and biodegradable. All these high-tech materials can sufficiently meet the diversified demands of the downstream application industries, such as lightweight automobile and electronics, food safety, green packaging, low carbon buildings, etc.
Medical plastics are other potential huge markets, with eye-catching performance in recent years. The value-added medical industry remains a double-digit growth every year. Plastics are widely used in medical devices, disposable supplies and pharmaceutical packaging; meanwhile there are strict requirements on medical plastics materials, including laws and regulations compliance, biocompatibility and design flexibility. Facing the market trend, CHINAPLAS organizer will hold the 3rd Medical Plastics Conference to share the latest technology of medical plastics and explore more innovative applications in the medical industry.
Utilize green solutions for efficient recycling
Efficient utilization of resources and green solutions is the only way towards circular economy. Most of the manufacturing enterprises will have to use green materials to lower carbon emission during the manufacturing processes. Lightweight, diversified functionalities, biodegradable and recyclable plastics have become the strategies adopted by many industries for sustainable development.
Through recycling, plastics products can be re-used, reducing environmental impact and meanwhile gaining economic benefits. Considering these, CHINAPLAS launched the “Recycling Technology Zone” in last edition held at Shanghai. Since its debut, the zone was positively received by the exhibitors and professional buyers who observed and communicated on the latest technology of every part of recycling chain, such as sorting, shredding, cleaning, dewatering, drying and pelletizing etc. Embracing the positive feedbacks from the Shanghai edition, the “Recycling Technology Zone” will be introduced in CHINAPLAS 2017 in Guangzhou, with “Extrusion Machinery Zone” and “Auxiliary & Testing Equipment Zone” being co-presented in Hall 3.2. The nearby “Automation Technology Zone” in Hall 4.2 will also respond to the market trend of intelligent manufacturing, showcasing advanced products and technologies to cater for market needs. It is expected that these zones, focusing on hot issues, will capture attentions from professional buyers.
It is reported that the number of exhibitors in “Recycling Technology Zone” will continue to increase, and the following enterprises are expected to participate in: Tomra Sorting, National Recovery Technologies (NRT), Telford Smith, Jiangsu Fangsheng, Zhangjiagang Lianguan Recycling, Zhejiang Boretech and Suzhou Zhongsu. The organizer reveals that there are a lot of exhibitors who will be present for the first time in “Recycling Technology Zone”.
Global exhibitors respond overwhelmingly and participate enthusiastically
Due to rapid development of plastics processing technology, all downstream sectors show the momentum of strong growth. According to the organizer, quite a few exhibitors will enlarge its booth area to showcase its core and competitive products. Some exhibitors revealed that they will show their complete production line. Exhibitors from several countries are positive to the China and global markets, and they will participate in the show actively. For example, Sodick, Mitsubishi, Matsui, Asano Laboratories, etc. from Japan have already reserved their booths in CHINAPLAS 2017.
In the first edition of CHINAPLAS held in 1983, there were about 100 exhibitors, with nearly no Chinese exhibitor. After 30 years of development, the proportion of Chinese and overseas exhibitors reached 6:4. Number of Chinese exhibitors has surpassed the overseas exhibitors, and it can be concluded that over the past three decades, China’s plastics market has undergone significant and rapid growth. With strengthening innovative ability, the technology level of China machines and quality of chemical raw materials are comparable to international level whereas the product portfolio has been enriched. Besides, Chinese enterprises also actively set up offices abroad in order to better serve overseas customers. Due to its high cost-performance and increasing competitiveness, China-made technologies and raw materials have successfully caught the attention of global market. CHINAPLAS 2017 will bring leading Chinese enterprises under the same roof, including Shaanxi Beiren, Guangzhou Tech-long, Haitian, Yizumi, Hangzhou Zhongya, Shanghai Zhoutai, Deqing Tide, Newamstar, Wenzhou High Sea, Liuzhou Jingye, Quinko, Suzhou Jwell, CML, Guangzhou Unique, Dalian Sunlight, Xinle Huabao, East Zhouqiang, Guangdong Jinming, Guangzhou Lianguan, Yongming, Zhuxin, Hotsys, Wuxi Yang Ming, Nanjing KY, Designer, Kingfa, Bluestar, CPIC, etc.
CHINAPLAS 2017 will rotate back to China Import & Export Fair Complex, Pazhou, Guangzhou, PR China on May 16 – 19, 2017. The show will join hands with over 3,300 exhibitors from 40 countries and regions, welcoming more than 140,000 professional buyers all around the globe.
The admission fee is RMB 30 (one day pass) and RMB 50 (four-day pass). To enjoy free admission, please visit www.ChinaplasOnline.com/prereg to pre-register before May 9, 2017. Visitors successfully pre-register before March 1, 2017 will receive the visitor badge by mail in advance.
For details, please visit the official show website at www.ChinaplasOnline.com.
Visitors can experience the concept and practice of intelligent manufacturing or fully automated production line in the “Automation Technology Zone”.
“Recycling Technology Zone” will be introduced in CHINAPLAS 2017 in Guangzhou, with “Extrusion Machinery Zone” and “Auxiliary & Testing Equipment Zone” being co-presented in Hall 3.2.
Issued by Adsale Exhibition Services Ltd
For media enquiry, please contact:
Hong Kong：Ms Helen Chan
Tel：(852) 2516 3395
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About CHINAPLAS 2017
CHINAPLAS 2017 is organized by Adsale Exhibition Services Ltd. and Beijing Yazhan Exhibition Services Ltd. and co-organized by China National Light Industry Council – China Plastics Processing Industry Association, China Plastics Machinery Industry Association, Guangdong Plastics Industry Association, Messe Düsseldorf China Ltd. and the Plastic Trade Association of Shanghai. The event is also supported by various plastics and rubber associations in China and abroad.
First introduced in 1983, CHINAPLAS is China’s only plastics and rubber trade show approved by UFI (The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry). CHINAPLAS has been exclusively sponsored by the Europe’s Association for Plastics and Rubber Machinery Manufacturers (EUROMAP) in China for the 28th time. CHINAPLAS is currently Asia’s No. 1 and the world’s No. 2 plastics and rubber trade fair.
Photo Credits: Adsale Exhibition Services Ltd, ChinaPlas
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