The electrical hum and resonant vibrations of robotic systems can be extremely disruptive to users and applications, especially if it is a prolonged exposure. Despite continuous advances in actuator technology, there are very few systems that can claim to be silent.
Silent actuators are especially valuable in areas where noise either reduces operator concentration, eliminates immersion in a virtual environment, interferes with sensitive applications or instruments, or just adds to an already noisy work environment. There is a constant drive to innovate in the world of robotics, and a system that can operate silently will always be more impressive and sought after than one that cannot.
There are various causes of sound in an electric linear actuator and each type of electric actuator has a different source of sound. Some of which are listed below:
Silent robotics are highly sought after in the consumer product market. This is due to the effect created when a robot moves without any indication of how it is achieving the movement. A noisy motor breaks one’s immersion and awe of a robot or automated system.
Some key advantages of a silent linear motor are:
Magnetic force feedback actuators operate on a completely different set of principles than typical actuators such as servo controlled ballscrews, pneumatic, electric induction motor or even hydraulic systems. Their electromagnetic mode of operation allows for extremely silent operation as there are no mechanical components meshing and interacting with each other.
In most applications there is also no need for active cooling. This results in a system that is extremely quiet, i.e. as low as 20dB (or in some applications even lower).
An Orca Series Linear Motor
Furthermore, the kind of precise control afforded by an electromagnetic actuator allows noise reduction via the dynamic modulation of waveform shapes to account for acoustic resonance and torque ripples. These effects can be monitored and actively removed through various integrated software algorithms. This is very similar to the concept used in active noise cancellation headphones. This approach can respond to changes in the system in fractions of a second to adapt and account for noise. This is far removed from standard waveform shaping as not only is the waveform dynamically adjusted but so is the waveform shape.
The number of uses for silent robotics is almost equal to the number of uses for normal robotics. This is because it is always desirable to reduce the overall sound generated by any mechanical system. Some of the more obvious uses of silent actuator technology are listed below:
Silence is Critical for Immersion in VR Applications
With the increased visibility of automated systems in our everyday lives, the use of silent actuators will become all the more valuable as a way to ease the transition to the age of automation. As these automated systems adopt silent motor technology their integrations will be as unobtrusive as possible.
Learn more about the Orca Series silent linear motors here.