Motion control may be one of those things that can easily be taken for granted in industrial automation and robotic systems, but it's traditionally complex to program. That's why Texas Instruments has released new motion-control software the company says drastically simplifies the engineering process of developing motion control applications "every step of the way."
The company's new InstaSPIN-MOTION motor control software is aimed at taking the pain out of motion-control development by optimizing complex motion sequences, reducing tuning to a single parameter, and accurately tracking desired trajectories across operating ranges. "TI has never offered anything like this before," Chris Clearman, a manager in motor control solutions at Texas Instruments, told Design News. "This is the most complete MOTION package from a semiconductor vendor we are aware of."
Texas Instruments' new InstaSPIN-MOTION software, shown here in a screenshot, aims to make motion-control development more efficient and less painstaking for developers, the company said. The software builds on TI’s InstaSPIN-FOC offering and adds four new modules with advanced features. (Source: Texas Instruments)
Specifically, InstaSPIN-Motion builds on top of TI's InstaSPIN-FOC, which includes motor parameter identification, a self-tuning software sensor called FAST, and automatic tuning of the current control loop. The FAST software sensor provides rotor flux measurement and motor identification, as well as automatic current control tuning and sensorless feedback in a field-oriented control (FOC) torque controller. The sensor also speeds the deployment of sensorless, variable load, three-phase motor solutions, Clearman told us.
InstaSPIN-Motion also includes four new components to address each aspect of designing motion control, with the ultimate goal of making it simpler and more efficient than older design techniques. Those components are:
Identify, which enacts a short test on the motor to identify the inertia and friction of the system. This is used in the velocity compensation of motion-control development;
Control, which replaces standard PI based velocity controllers -- "which are hard to tune and must be tuned at different speeds/loads across operation," Clearman said, with a single variable tuning knob that typically works across the entire operation;
Move, which calculates the inputs to the Controller to move from A to B based on one of three curve types and user-supplied constraints of acceleration and jerk;
Plan, which enables rapid state-based development of software that connects movements (A-B, B-C, C-D, etc.) based on system criteria.
Additionally, engineers also can use as a complement to InstaSPIN-Motion the motor control software infrastructure MotorWare, which offers modules, drivers, system examples, and documentation for current C object-oriented and API-based coding techniques.
InstaSPIN-Motion is now available on TI's 90 MHz, 32-bit floating point Piccolo F2806xM microcontrollers starting at $10.22 USD per 10 Ku. TI also is offering an InstaSPIN-Motion-supported low-voltage, low-current motor control kits for $299, a low-voltage, high-current motor control kit for $299, or a high-voltage motor control kit for $699. For designers who have previously purchased a TI motor control development kit, they can order the modular InstaSPIN-Motion-enabled Piccolo controlCARD for $99.
It seems like a complex task, to be sure! I guess it doesn't help when engineers have different sets of priorities and different ways of approaching the problem, which is how it was back in the app-dev days I mentioned. Hopefully software like this can help.
It kind of reminds me of when companies like Microsoft and Adobe started putting out tools for software developers that helped writers of code and designers of interfaces and graphics--the two sides of the software equation--understand each other better, Chuck. I think these types of tools will help different kinds of engineers also collaborate more intuitively and effectively.
Motion control is definitely becoming more integral to different aspects of engineering, Jack, it's true, and it will be important to have these skills in the future. This is why tools like what TI is offering are so important; I expect we will see more of the same from other top vendors in the future as well.
Jack, I've recently been running into more engineering programs that offer an electromechanical engineering degree. I think it's a good idea. It busts the walls down and makes engineers on both sides -- electrical and mechanical -- aware that they can't "throw designs over the wall."
I'm just amazed at how far some of these tools have come. I was talking to one of our interns the other day and he is finishing up his degree in MECHANICAL engineering. He actuallly had to take a class in motion control and develop software for it. I couldn't understand how that would have been part of his curriculum, but apparently most of the software he was using was plugging blocks together. A bit different from what I had....
True, Al, I think this type of software is going to become more important to designers of components and industrial systems, and market leaders like TI should be taking this kind of initiative to make motion-control development easier.
Very interesting that TI is expanding its software development tools for motor control. That probably bodes well for advanced motor control in a wide range of volume applications. They are among a small group of semiconductor companies in the unique position to provide motion solutions, especially with growth in sensorless, variable load and three-phase motor systems.
Good point, Naperlou. TI has come out with a product that follows the trend of making complex industrial control tools less complex for the user. This not only speeds set up, it brings complex within reach for manufacturers who don't wish to hire an army of programmers.
Are they robots or androids? We're not exactly sure. Each talking, gesturing Geminoid looks exactly like a real individual, starting with their creator, professor Hiroshi Ishiguro of Osaka University in Japan.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.