The use of robots proliferates in applications ranging from operating rooms to the battlefield. As robots become more specialized, a common feature is the corresponding development of miniature motors that robots depend on for their movement. Therefore, advancements in robot development must be matched by advancements in the motors that power them , so let's look at the key trends in miniature motor technology.
Robot design, especially for cobots, must allow for mobility and compactness. To effectively match the capacity of a human hand, the motors that drive them require high power density in a small, lightweight package. Higher power density in a smaller, lighter motor details the advantage of brushless DC (BLDC) motors compared to conventional DC designs. BLDC slotless motors, combined with efficient planetary gearboxes, achieve this combination and can be integrated into typical robot formats to accommodate space constraints.
The key capabilities of robots involved in tasks such as manufacturing automation are speed and precision. In a robotic pick and place application, coreless DC motors and disc magnet stepper motors are well suited as a result of their extremely low inertia, allowing for repeated and rapid changes in acceleration and deceleration. Similarly, applications that require dynamic but smooth control, such as camera systems, benefit from the elimination of holding or jagged torque, making slotless BLDC an excellent motor choice.
A significant advantage of robots is that they can be used in environments and under conditions that humans cannot, or ideally, cannot endure. Surveillance and patrolling of industrial pipelines, high-voltage power grids, or even theaters of war have robots powered by miniature motors protected against the most arduous conditions to ensure continuous operation. Protection against extreme temperatures and pressures is required for robotic applications such as surgical robots subjected to autoclaving. The robot motor depends on a high degree of resilience; Placing the components inside a thermoset epoxy maximizes robustness and extends their life cycle.
When it comes to robots, safety and productivity are inextricably linked. Inaccurate control can cause physical damage, either in a surgical environment or on the factory floor, while shutdown of the machine as a result of a safety breach can mean product damage and downtime. Thus, robots will continue to rely on high-precision feedback devices to ensure their protection and that of the environment around them. High resolution encoders allow fast and accurate motor control in applications requiring high speed and control combinations. In a robotic welding system, the high resolution feedback achieved within a robust package is crucial to ensure precise robotic movement.