Broad Application of a Reconfigurable Motor Controller
An ultra-miniature (<50 grams) high-performance brushless-motor controller, code named 'Puck', has been developed by Barrett for Earth-based mobile-manipulation use where efficiency, low mass, and robustness are critical attributes. Application of a distributed intelligent system will enable these Pucks to be used liberally across a variety of NASA's future satellite, articulated-machine, and robotic applications requiring low-level robust brushless commutation directed by high-level task intelligence. In addition to supporting space-vector control of brushless motors, each Puck carries a virtually unburdened 32-bit DSP running at 80 MHz with plenty of memory and high-speed serial communications to neighboring Pucks. So even as machines increase in degrees of freedom - and therefore complexity - the excess computational power provided by the Pucks increases proportionately, working in tandem to overcome increasingly complex controls issues. While another Barrett proposal submitted to NASA is focused on developing the hardware for a space-qualified Puck controller, this proposal focuses on a control architecture that leverages the distributed DSPs. Phase I will build an architecture that best leverages a distributed network of Pucks, such as a solution of computationally-intensive kinematics equations (e.g. Jacobian matrix), and local tasks, such as estimating precise realtime velocities and supporting series-elastic-actuator (SEA) strain-gages.
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