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Powering embedded drives

At the Embedded World, Synapticon presented products based on its Somanet System-on-Chip (SoC). The chip provides several communication interfaces including CAN.

The Somanet COM module features optionally a CAN interface with a typical power consumption of 128,5 mW (Photo: Synapticon)

The company exhibited its Somanet modules based on the Somanet chips. The hardware and software components are suitable for robotic control systems. “The focus is on a powerful and at the same time cost-effective motor and motion control, as well as comfortable retrieval and integrated processing of sensor data,” explained Nikolai Ensslen, founder and managing director of Synapticon. ”A Somanet node can be individually configured and consists of three modules: a processor, a communication module, and a module with power electronics for drives and sensor interfaces.” One of the communication options is CAN. The SoC uses the Xcore multi-core controllers from Xmos. There are two versions: C2X with 16 cores and CA1X with seven cores. Synapticon offers also Soft IP Blocks for CiA 401 and CiA 402. Besides robotic applications, the provider addresses also battery-powered light electric vehicles.

One of the presented drive modules was the IFM Drive DC1000. It has four phases and can thus also control brakes in addition to control the engine. The module supports up to three feedback systems for position and torque and operates in the low voltage range up to 60 V. It is compatible with PMSM, BLDC, DC brush motors and stepper motors. The company’s model-predictive, field-oriented control regulates motors via the power electronics in a particularly high-resolution and efficient way. The product is suited for collaborative robotic arms and micro robotics.

An extension of the Somanet platform is the rotary encoder. The REM 16MT is an absolute magnetic rotary encoder. It measures the axis angles with a 16-bit precision and counts axis revolutions up to 12 bit. Since the energy can be supplied by its own magnetic field by means of Energy Harvesting, the encoder is self-sufficient when the power supply is switched off and nevertheless detects position changes at any time. In robotics, this encoder can be used to replace expensive optical systems, which are usually supplied with battery buffers.

“Our embedded solutions for robotic control technology address industrial robotics, collaborative robots, robotic products for the end consumer market and transport systems with autonomous navigation. This is how we cover an immense spectrum,” explains Nikolai Ensslen.

Wheel based on the Somanet chip for robotics (Photo: Nabtesco)

The spectrum of engineering services encompasses the technological core of the company’s platform, the system-on-chips, the customer-specific adaptation, and expansion of software, individual and integrated modular design, but also the design and selection of complete drive solutions, including engine, transmission, and mechanical structure. As a practical example of an end product based on such an integrated drive solution from Synapticon, the company exhibited a driverless transport system (DTS) on its booth. Nabtesco developed the drive concept. The core feature is the Synapticon Integrated Drive Solution: an axis consisting of a PMSM motor, a Nabtesco cycloid transmission, a Synapticon drive controllers, and software. It is suitable as a complete basic solution for DTS. Complemented by Synapticon’s software package for autonomous navigation, the result is a complete solution to implement new DTS quickly and cost-effectively. The product comes optionally with CAN connectivity.


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