Sensor Fusion for Robotics

Demand for hardy, multipurpose robots that are easy to set up is rising across many industries and environments. From traditional robotic systems composed of arms and motors doing repetitive tasks, robotics evolved from performing simple functions to complex ones alongside humans and other machines in industrial, commercial, and household environments.

Now robots require sensors for contextual awareness and intuitive interfaces for ease of implementation. For example, some applications may use gesture recognition to control a physical system. At the same time, strict requirements include IOT security, low power consumption, safety and reliability. This means also implementing sensors to track electrical current, temperature, and other factors to ensure a device performs efficiently and safely. In the near future, robotics will increase the number of motors and environment flexibility, and the world will see more collaborative robots working with humans. Again, with more control systems and settings to design for, the number of sensors robots use will climb.

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Machine Learning Driving the Change Needed in Robotics

Since robotic systems now use a growing variety of types of sensors, a different type of software construct is needed to handle all the data. Machine learning is becoming quintessential for building smart, effective control systems. It applies artificial intelligence to unstructured sensory input, leading to useful, self-learned features. In addition, neural networking transforms raw input to control signals, such as in locomotion, grasping, and other physical manipulation.

Infineon Solutions

To meet the aforementioned requirements of modern robotics, Infineon boasts four categories of products. First, Infineon offers sensors for radar, pressure, 3D imaging, and more. These are used in advanced sensing applications such as gesture recognition, navigation, and spatial mapping. For feedback information from motors and servos, Infineon also provides Hall latches, angle sensors, and other magnetic-based sensors. After gathering input, information is transformed into control signals and fed back to a cloud database. Infineon’s XMC 32-bit microcontroller families will handle the calculations while the OPTIGATM family will keep data secure from snoopers. In particular, the XMC4000 family offers peripherals optimized for industrial control and communication. Finally, the control signals can be fed to Infineon’s IGBT modules or Intelligent Power Modules (IPMs) for low frequency applications. Meanwhile, high current, high frequency applications can take advantage of Infineon’s vast selection of MOSFET families, including the smart ProFETTM family and the low RDS (ON) OptiMOSTM family.

How Infineon Helps You Master Your Robotics Design

To ease the workload of engineers designing the circuitry, Infineon’s website presents many block diagrams, which show examples of how to design common systems. For instance, there are power management diagrams showing AC-to-DC and DC-to-DC applications. Other diagrams have linear regulators and uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) for low noise and secure robotic operations. In the motion control block diagrams are actuators like brushless DC (BLDC) motors and servos. The designs in the diagrams are accompanied by feedback sensors for smart performance. Then there are security block diagrams for encryption and authentication systems, exemplifying how to ensure safe communication in times of increasing connectivity.

In addition to giving implementation information, Infineon’s products also add the following values:

Size reduction: Infineon’s wide portfolio of discrete power solutions, for example, MOSFETs and IPMs, efficiently handle high voltage and current in tiny packages, allowing for control boxes to shrink in size and weight.

Managing safety: The sensors from Infineon detect and prevent clamping situations in collaborative environments (torque and rotor position sensing) and in non-collaborative ones (radar). This also helps customers fulfill EN ISO1028 and ISO/TS 15066.

Highest level of integration: Products such as the IPMs and smart switches (ProFETsTM) reduce the total count of components while offering best-in-class technology for low switching losses and reduced conduction losses, leading to high efficiency converter designs.

Multi-robot design usage: All topologies of robots can be addressed with the vast portfolio of IGBTs, half-bridges, MOSFETS, and more. Regardless of a robot’s payload and its number of axis, Infineon’s switching solutions are suitable for applications form simple one-axis robots to complex, collaborative designs.

Securing business: Securing intellectual property is more challenging in times of the Internet-of-Things. As mentioned before, the OPTIGATM families prevent unexpected line-down due to insecure firmware updates or faked materials, providing encrypted and authenticated communication.

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Author’s Bio:

Pooja Agrawal's focus at Infineon is real-world applications of 24 and 60 GHz based Radar and Sensor technologies. She has been working on Digital Signal Processing algorithms and technologies for over a decade. Her prior work on real-time image and audio processing currently runs on millions of consumer end devices. She holds Bachelors in Computer Science and has also been involved with Product Management and customer facing areas. She may be reached at pooja.agrawal@infineon.com.

0917 Sensor Fusion for Robotics_Pooja Agrawal

Diana Pinto has nearly 20 years of experience in the field of power electronics. The majority of those years were in application support where she provided customers with real-time solutions to their designs. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from University of California, Los Angeles.

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