A company called Genesis Robotics is claiming that its new innovation could change the world of robotics, as well as the whole area of motion control in general.
The company’s LiveDrive is a component which could replace traditional gears in everything from industrial robots to cars and even bicycles.
In an interview with RoboticsAndAutomationNews.com, Genesis Robotics’ president, Michael Gibney, and James Klassen, CTO, both of whom we met at Hannover Messe, provide some background about how the company was formed as well as some insight into the new technology.
Gibney says: “The robotics world was looking for a gearless motor, something that would allow so many more benefits than can be done, but it wasn’t out there.
“There wasn’t a direct drive motor that was strong enough to produce the work that was needed in a robotic function, and if we could do that and have no gears, it would change everything.”
Klassen says: “It’s well-known in the robotics market – because many people have tried – that a direct drive motor would be the ultimate actuator.
“The problem, until now, that direct drive motors haven’t had enough torque in the joints of a robot.”
Klassen adds that it was “three foundational discoveries” made by him and his team at Genesis that has enabled them to “create a solution which has three times the torque of a conventional direct drive motor”.
And because the LiveDrive has potential uses far beyond robotics – in, for example, cars and bicycles – the innovation could change the entire engineering landscape.
The market potential is difficult to calculate because it’s potentially so big. The company’s patented technology was received well at Hannover Messe, with leading industrial robot makers at the front of the queue of potential customers.
The key difference between the Genesis solution and traditional gears is that traditional gears have teeth, which causes such things as friction and “backlash”.
The three foundational discoveries Klassen referred to are:
- amplified magnetics – LiveDrive uses “the strongest magnets in the world”, says the company;
- structural-magnetic synergy – the rigidity of the structure withstands forces that would collapse conventional motors; and
- thermodynamic anomaly – the company discovered new ways to dissipate heat.
The way traditional industrial robots work is different, and Genesis says that they are slower than they would be if they used the company’s LiveDrive.
The technical specifications the company has issued include the following:
- repeatability… 0.2 arc-sec
- torque to inertia… 2213 Nm / kgm²
- top speed… 400 rpm (bearing limited)
- outer diameter… 269 mm
- axial thickness… 16 mmm
- continuous torque… 54 Nm
- peak torque… 120 Nm
- mass… 5.1 kg
- cooling… forced air
Gibney says he had originally thought mostly about LiveDrive’s potential use in exoskeletons, but because the actuator system is scalable – in that it can be either tiny or very large – it has applications in almost everything that requires motion.
After acquiring numerous patents, and spending millions of dollars in research and development, the company has only just unveiled its product at Hannover Messe, which was only a couple of weeks ago, so it will be interesting to see how it goes over the next few months and years.