Opportunity celebrates 10 years on Mars

19 02 2014

Ten years ago, the NASA rovers Opportunity and Spirit landed on Mars. It keeps going and going and going. “It is equipped with maxon brushed DC motors” the company proudly announced recently.

Mars rover Opportunity. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Mars rover Opportunity. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Today, Opportunity is still exploring Mars – an unbelievably long time, considering the robot was only designed to last about 90 days. It has covered a distance of approximately 39 kilometers so far and continues to roam around a vast area. On board, 39 maxon brushed DC motors can be found.

On January 25, 2004, the Mars rover Opportunity landed in the Eagle crater. Since then, it has been investigating the planet for NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), a USA agency responsible for the exploration of space. It has examined a number of craters, dunes, and flats, always searching for traces of water. It did not take long before Opportunity found first indications (sediment structures, minerals) that there used to be water on Mars. The Mars rover is able to take photos, brush the ground and drill into stone and it continues to do so today. “The rover is in exceptionally good condition for its age”, says John Callas, a manager at NASA. However, things haven’t always been easy for the rover in the past ten years. Its wheels have become stuck in the sand requiring a very difficult maneuver to release them once again. Sand storms disabled the solar panels and prevented the batteries from recharging. Opportunity is now starting to show a few small symptoms of aging: the 185 kg robot has a bit of “memory loss” – every now and again, its hard disk shows signs of wear caused by the long period of use.

39 km and 39 maxon drives
With drives manufactured by maxon motor, Opportunity has been able to safely navigate the surface of Mars for ten years. The rover contains a total of 39 brushed DC motors that are all still operating reliably. They are used to drive the robotic arm, the Rock Abrasion Tool (RAT), the cameras, the control mechanism and the wheels of the rover. The motors are standard products with diameters of 20 to 25 millimeters and an efficiency of over 90 percent. Minor modifications were necessary to adapt the DC motors for the harsh environmental conditions: the temperature on the surface of Mars fluctuates between approximately -120 °C and +25 °C.

This speaks about reliability of maxon motors (as well as all other pieces of equipment on the robot) indeed, but also about human genius. We at Eurotec haven’t thought to use Opportunity to spread the microtechnology messages of our customers to the red planet!


The RE 25 and RE 20 DC brushed motors from maxon motor have been working on Mars for an entire decade.

The RE 25 and RE 20 DC brushed motors from maxon motor have been working on Mars for an entire decade.




…brought to you by Eurotec-Online.com

Shuttle tool changer to be discovered at EMO

12 08 2013

Colombo Filippetti, the Italian company from Torino, will unveil a new optimized shuttle tool changer simplifying operations and management at EMO on hall 26, Stand F07.
The main characteristic is that no hydraulic device is used, this allows impressive results. Compared to the usual devices, the system is noiseless, cleaner and  much more reliable. It is composed of an exchanging unit assembled on a shuttle moved by a servomotor which slides, through rollers, on a hardened prismatic guide.

Vertical and horizontal
The exchange cycle (180° rotation) is completed by using a precision reduction gear with servomotor while the cone extraction stroke is operated by an oleo-pneumatic cylinder. In the version (O+V) it can change the tool with spindle both in vertical and in horizontal positions: in this version the tool exchanger is pivoted in a fulcrum and can rotate by 90 degrees operated by an oleo-pneumatic cylinder. The gripper arm has a mechanical control with shutters when the tool is drawn from the spindle.

Tailored to customers’ needs
The CTNE 50 is completed by different kinds of ring or annular magazines with a number of tools variable from 20 to 80 tools according to production needs. It fits to the following types of cones: ISO 45, ISO 50, BT 50, HSK 80, HSK 100, Capto C8 and Capto C10 with tool weight of 25 kg in the standard version and  35 kg in the heavy version (W). Colombo Filippetti will show some of its more significant products at EMO. It will also be possible to see the different applications of the CTNE 50 on some of its customer’s machines on show at EMO.

Colombo Filippetti Torino Srl
Via Massimo D’Antona 65
10040 Rivalta di Torino (TO)
Tel +39 0113972211





….brought to you by Eurotec-online.com

PowerMILL Robot Interface for machining with robots

2 05 2013

Delcam has launched the PowerMILL Robot Interface for the programming of robots for multi-axis machining operations.
Delcam robot machining
The new PowerMILL Robot Interface makes programming a robot as easy as programming a five-axis machine tool.

This approach makes it as easy to program a robot for machining as it is to program a five-axis machine tool.  With the Robot Interface being a fully-associated application inside PowerMILL, users have access to all the multi-axis machining strategies within PowerMILL and can use all the system’s project management options to manage, store and retrieve data.

3-step to succeed
The core functionality of the PowerMILL Robot Interface consists of three main steps: programming, simulation (including analysis) and creation of the robot programs. Robots can be programmed for tool-to-part applications, making them ideal for machining large parts, such as composite panels that need to be trimmed, or for part-to-tool applications, such as grinding or linishing.

Simulate complete machining
The PowerMILL Robot Interface can then be used to simulate the complete machining operation and to control the robot’s movements through different variables, such as axis limits, axis priorities and workplane constraints.  Various aspects within the configuration of the robot cell, such as axis limits, tool constraints and home position, can be defined, and the simulation of the robot completed within those constraints.

Actually programme the robot
Once the results of the simulation have been reviewed, and modified if necessary, the program can be output in the appropriate robot native language eliminating any need for third-party translation software.  Acceleration, smoothing values and other robot-specific parameters can be defined as part of the output. Full support for external axes, such as rotary tables and linear tracks, can be included, as well as dedicated tools for spindle calibration.

To see how easy it is to use the PowerMILL Robot Interface, please go to www.delcam.tv/cnc-polystyrene.

Delcam plc
Small Heath Business Park,
Birmingham, B10 0HJ, UK
Peter Dickin, Marketing Manager
Direct phone: 44 (0)121 683 1081






The digital age of polishing!

26 04 2013

If the capture of movements (motion capture) was developed in the 1980s for the army and then for physiological and medical analyses, it is Hollywood and video games that have developed this technique for recording human movements through sensors to then recreate them in a virtual manner (as in Avatar for example). At EPHJ Crevoisier, the manufacturer of grinding and finishing centres, will present an articulated polishing robot that operates using the same technique.


Crevoisier uses the film industry developments to the service of polishing. Thanks to its new acquisition and polishing cells, the perfect gestures of polishers can be reproduced to infinity.

Crevoisier will present in world premiere at EPHJ a polymorphic polishing robot which is able to reproduce the sure gestures of the best polishers. How does it work? What are the consequences for the polishing world and for the watchmaking field (first target of this revolution)?

To work with the polishing specialist
“The goal is to give the polishing specialist a complementary tool” says Mr. Migy, technical-sales mgr. He continues: “Today watchmakers have difficulty to find highly skilled workforce and it is more and more common that they have to subcontract abroad”. In order to keep these added value operations in Switzerland, Crevoisier presents a new concept of programmation for polishing robots.

Step by step
In the event of a series of parts to be polished, the specialist works manually as he is used to on a polishing post. A motion capture system saves all useful movements. Each sequence of polishing realised by the specialist being registered, he can proceed to the next step that will allow the robot to replicate movements.

Crevoisier SA
CH-2714 Les Genevez
Tel. + 41 32 484 71 00
Fax + 41 32 484 71 07

We will present this piece of news in deeper details in Eurotec’s next issue.






Roboy will be brought to life soon

22 01 2013

The pioneer project of the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (AI Lab) of the University of Zurich started six months ago, with the target of developing one of the most modern humanoid robots within nine months. Now the robot has received a new face and is able to move his arms. On March 9, 2013, Roboy will be presented to the public at the “Robots on Tour” robotics exhibition held in Zurich on occasion of the 25th anniversary of the lab. More than 50 brushless maxon drives are responsible for the humanoid’s precision movements.
Since the project start in the summer of 2012, Roboy’s development has progressed very far. The torso of the 1.30 m robot has been completed and assembled. The two arms are finished and can move; furthermore Roboy has now received a new face. This friendly face is projected onto the head of the robot with a miniature projector and gives him a whole range of facial expressions. This makes his humanlike appearance almost perfect. Roboy will additionally be able to recognize faces that he has learned beforehand. Roboy has been designed as a humanoid tendon-controlled robot (in “normal robots”, the motors are in the joints); this will enable him to move almost as elegantly as a human.

More than 50 high-precision motors and an accurate controller
As main project partner, maxon motor supplies various brushless DC drives that provide Roboy with controlled movement. In total, more than 50 maxon motors, combined with gearheads and encoders, have been installed in the robot. Additionally, all electronic components are from maxon motor. To control the motors and execute Roboy’s movements, a master/slave system has been set up using the digital positioning controllers of the maxon EPOS2 series. Programming of the control functions on the slave system was performed in cooperation with maxon engineers. The drive specialist from Sachseln has many years of experience in robotics, e.g. for medical technology, industrial automation or the astronautics industry. Currently maxon products are in use in the two Mars rovers “Curiosity” and “Opportunity”.

“Robots on Tour” cyborg and robot show
On occasion of the 25th anniversary of the AI Lab, robot fans, robots and cyborgs from all over the world are coming to Zurich for the ”Robots on Tour” (robotsontour.com) The topic of robotics will be presented to the public in many demonstrations. A focal topic is the relationship between humans and robots and the questions that arise from it. What potential does robotics hold for mankind? What dependencies could result? There will be lots of opportunity for scientific exchange in the podium discussions with renowned researchers such as Rodney Brooks, former director of MIT CSAIL (Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory) and founder of “Rethink Robotics”.


4 technology leaders, 3 days, 2 neighbouring venues, 1 integrated event

28 09 2012

Matsuura, Tornos, Fanuc Robotics and Mitutoyo have teamed up to create a joint integrated technology event to be held at the Matsuura & Tornos technology centres in Leicestershire on the 16th, 17th and 18th of October 2012.

Aimed at offering end users the opportunity to witness and embrace profitable integrated manufacturing solutions, industry leading turning and machining centres will be integrated with robotic and metrology concepts to focus on seamless manufacturing technology integration and the associated cost saving realities for end users, regardless of industry sector and whether they are SME’s or blue chip multi nationals.

  • Think Milling – Matsuura
  • Think Turning – Tornos
  • Think Robotics – Fanuc
  • Think metrology – Mitutoyo

Think! Integration, Think! Profit
Under this slogan the four companies have combined their skills to offer an event not to be missed.
If you were not able to go to the highly successful AMB in Stuttgart last week use this great opportunity to see

  • the UK premier of the Tornos EvoDeco 16 mm,
  • special packages for the Tornos’ 20 mm and 38 mm sliding heads at unbeatable prices,
  • the award-winner MultiSwiss
  • 10 state-of-the art Matsuura machines,
  • a large range of both integrated and stand-alone robots,
  • CMM machines and non-contact optical measuring solutions

..and much more!
A number of tooling, workholding, CAD/CAM software, probing and swarf management companies will also be integrating their products into the processes to demonstrate the “integrated solution” concept. Supporting companies scheduled to participate in the event include Iscar, Sandvik Coromant, ITC, Floyd Automatic Tooling, Jemtech, PSL Datatrack, Mecwash, Delcam and Lease UK.

You can register for this event here.

Switzerland’s first tendon-controlled humanoid robot

28 08 2012

A project team with experts from science and industry, including the drive specialist maxon motor, is developing a new humanoid robot: “Roboy”. On March 9, 2013, “Roboy” will be presented to the public at the “Robots on Tour” international robotics fair that will take place in Zurich as part of the 25th anniversary of the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (AI Lab) of the University of Zurich.


Since June 2012, the project team has been busy implementing the latest knowledge in the field of robotics to create a new humanoid robot. “Roboy” will be 1.30 m big, with an anatomy and motion characteristics that mimic that of humans. With “Roboy”, the project team wants to show what topics are being researched in the field of robotics and which technologies are ready for series production. “Roboy” is a further development of the technology used in the famous “ECCE Robot”. Both robots, “ECCE Robot” and “Roboy”, are equipped with tendon-controlled drive technology, which gives the robots the ability to perform humanoid movements and to react to their environment.

Swiss robotics and drive expertise
In addition to the scientists of the AI Lab, international research groups from Germany and Japan are participating in the project. Furthermore it has the support of partner companies that are providing cutting-edge Swiss high-tech expertise. As main project partner, maxon motor is supplying numerous DC and EC motors, as well as sensors that enable “Roboy” to make high-precision movements. The drive specialist from Sachseln has many years of experience in robotics, e.g. for medical technology, industrial automation or the astronautics industry.
 “High precision electric motors are the artificial muscles of a robot. Our drives are small, dynamic and efficient – just what robotics need,” says Eugen Elmiger, CEO of maxon motor. He adds: “For us, creative and ambitious projects such as “Roboy” are always an incentive to challenge ourselves and to try new things”.

maxon motor ag
BrünigstrassePostfach 263
6072 Sachseln
Phone +41 (41) 666 15 00
Fax +41 (41) 666 16 50

By the way… the development of “Roboy” can be shaped and supported by everybody! To make “Roboy” a reality by March 2013, the researchers need the support of partners and robotics fans. At www.roboy.org, everybody can take part.

maxon motors fly into outer space

11 07 2012

The flawless launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on May 22, 2012 is another successful step for maxon motor ag in the use of high precision motors in the astronautics industry. The crucial tasks of the maxon motors in the SpaceX mission included orienting the solar arrays of the Dragon spacecraft towards the sun to provide the power supply.

View from the International Space Station of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft as the station’s robotic arm moves Dragon into place for attachment to the station. May 25, 2012. Photo: NASA

The first private cargo capsule in the history of space travel was launched into space on May 22, 2012 from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The voyage of the unmanned “Dragon“ spacecraft, developed by the Californian company SpaceX, was a historical event for all involved. Never before has a private company developed a combined spacecraft and launch system that is capable of undertaking an orbital rendevous and then returning to earth

Brushless maxon motors for mission-critical tasks
EC maxon motors were used on the voyage to the ISS to rotate the solar arrays to keep them aligned with the sun as Dragon orbited the earth, open the instrument bay door which contains navigation equipment, and lock in place the fixture that allows Dragon to be grappled by the space station’s robotic arm.

On May 25, 2012, astronaut Donald Pettit successfully used the 17.6 meter robotic arm of the ISS to grapple the Dragon and guide it to the docking point on the spacestation. The 4.4 meter tall Dragon spacecraft supplied 520 kg of scientific equipment and food to the ISS. On May 31, the six ton capsule detached from the ISS and spashed down under parachutes in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California on the same day. The capsule was returning 660 kg of material from the ISS. Now that NASA has phased out its space shuttle program, the Dragon is the only means of transporting such large quantities of material back to earth.

Built for extreme conditions
The maxon team has been working on the SpaceX motor project for the last year. This is a milestone in the history of maxon, and the story isn’t over yet, as NASA has contracted with SpaceX for another twelve flights to the ISS. In a few years, the spacecraft will carry seven astronauts to the international space station. For maxon motor, this latest flight is a major step forwards in the future of commercial aerospace applications.
With the Mars rovers Opportunity and Spirit, maxon motor has previously demonstrated that maxon motors function flawlessly, even in outer space and on other planets. “We recognized the significance of what SpaceX were trying to achieve when they first approached us for motors several years ago. Our participation demonstrates that our standard industrial motors now have the technological sophistication that enables them to function in the critical roles needed for the success of this ground breaking mission,” explained Robin Phillips and Kornelia Stubicar, the two managers of the SpaceX motor project at maxon who, together with their team, implemented the development of the Dragon motors.

maxon motor ag
Brünigstrasse 220
P.O. Box 263
CH-6072 Sachseln
Tel: +41 (41) 666 15 00
Fax: +41 (41) 666 16 50

The new masters of speed

4 06 2012

KUKA Roboter GmbH presents a new small robot family: the KR AGILUS robot series. The agile KR AGILUS is showing itself to be the all-rounder for small spaces in all environments. The new compact member of the KUKA robot family is characterized by its speed, short cycle times and high level of precision and safety.

Compact, precise, agile and fast: the robots of the KR AGILUS series are the new masters of speed.

When it comes to handling tasks, especially Pick&Place, the KR AGILUS offers impressive results combined with minimized cycle times. At the same time, the small robot family works with great precision, enabling manufacturing quality of the highest quality. The basic model, KR 6 R900 sixx, weighing 51 kilograms, can carry a maximum payload of 6 kilograms. In the coming months, it will be followed by further payload variants in the Standard, Food, Cleanroom and Waterproof versions.

Full function in minimum space
The energy supply system of the KR AGILUS is integrated into the robot to save space. The KR 6 R900 sixx can reach points both near the robot base and also in the overhead area. Its maximum reach is 901 mm.  It is not only the ideal combination of size, maneuverability and reach that enable it to adapt to confined spaces, but also the fact that it can perform its tasks as a floor, ceiling or wall-mounted robot. Utmost flexibility even in small workspaces – no problem for the KR AGILUS!

Compact controller and high flexibility
Like its larger counterparts in the QUANTEC series, the KR AGILUS is operated with the universal KR C4 controller technology. With its open architecture, the KR C4 compact can control not only KUKA robots, but also external axes, for maximum flexibility, scalability, performance and openness, in minimum space.

Safe human-robot cooperation
While the KR AGILUS may be small, safety is writ large. It is the only robot in its class to operate with the KUKA SafeOperation function, greatly simplifying and improving human-robot cooperation.

KUKA Roboter GmbH
Phone: +49 821 797-4000
Fax: +49 821 797-4040


Reduced manufacturing workforce and productivity increase

3 05 2012

The 13th edition of the SIAMS, specialized trade show for automation, mechanics and subcontracting will take place from May 8 to 11, 2012 again in Moutier. At the Newemag/Schneider mc booth, the event is this year fully placed under the sign of reduced manufacturing workforce and productivity increase. To be seen on booth D6/E7, in Hall 1.1.

The SIAMS is one of the most popular events in the field of microtechnology. It is for many visitors of the microtechnology industry a unique platform for meetings and exchanges regardless of size or specialty.

Reduced workforce-with Schneidermat and Modulbox
In recent years Schneider mc has largely invested in the development of automation solutions. The Schneidermat was developed last year and it is used successfully at customers’ since the beginning of this year. The Schneidermat is installed next to the machine and offer a flexible autonomy of 3 pallets. The loading/unloading of the machine is done via a linear system which directly feeds the clamping system of the machine with the parts to be machined. Use is very simple. The Schneidermat has three function keys. It can be started, stopped and reinitialised to start position. The palette offers a size of 400 x 320 mm with variable grid divisions. Raw parts up to 1 kg in weight can be loaded or unloaded.

Increase productivity – with the Miyano BNA series
According to a well-known saying, all good things go by three. This is probably also what thought Miyano the Japanese machine builder. Three years ago, the first BNA, the BNA-42 S with counter-spindle, was introduced to the Swiss market. Last year, it was the BNA-42 DHY with counter-spindle, Y axis and additional turret. And this year, Miyano presents once again a new version: the BNA-42 MSY with a Mitsubishi M70V control. This machine includes the counter-spindle and the Y axis and benefits from the known characteristics of the two other BNA models, namely the strong reduction of downtime and short cycle times.

Newemag’s specialists will be at Siams to present these benefits and to offer individual cost/benefit analyses to interested visitors.

Newemag AG
Machine Tools
Erlenstrasse 2
CH-6343 Rotkreuz
Tel. +41 41 798 31 98
Fax +41 41 790 10 54

According to Newemag’s website, the BNA machines are offered at very special conditions!


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