Growing Applications for Servo Technology
Servo control systems are a technology that is being applied to many different applications every day. In past articles we have covered some of the areas in which servo technology can be found – such as Robotics and CNC. But what are some rapidly growing sectors that are being improved through the use of servos?
Renewable energy is one of the fastest growing industries in the US. In fact, the state of California has passed into law legislation requiring California’s utilities to obtain 50 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by the end of 2030. One of the challenges that has plagued solar power technology has been efficiency. Specifically, maximum efficiency is gained by positioning the panels so that they can most efficiently absorb the sun’s rays. If the panel is not directly aimed at the light source, even in full day with no clouds, a lot of the energy is reflected off the panel’s glass surface rather than absorbed into the energy converting substrate. This is problem servo motor technology has stepped in to solve. Now panels can come equipped with sensors to detect the exact direction of the incoming light source. This input is sent as a signal to a CPU that is tied into several axis servo amplifiers that then control the position of servo motors to angle the solar panel in the most efficient way possible.
Up until recently most amusement park rides were powered by simple electric motors and gravity. The typical roller coaster would consist of a chain conveyor system that would take the cart to the top of a hilled track. Then as the cart was released, gravity and the carts own momentum would carry it through the rides ups, downs, twists, turns and loops only occasionally being accelerated by the occasional electric motor attached to a rubber roller. Times have changed. Rides are now being developed that not only move on a linear path but now will perform sophisticated positional changes based on feedback provided by various sensors and input signals. Servo valves will take these inputs and position the ride based on where the program says it should be. This is especially prevalent in simulated experience rides that don’t move but rely on sophisticated servo systems to move a stationary compartment to mimic the thrills of a traditional roller coaster, but take up a lot less space.
Cameras are everywhere. From traffic control, to robotics, surveillance and safety – cameras have become ubiquitous in just about all aspects of modern life. Servo motors have solved a lot of problems when it comes to positioning and focusing a camera. Based on input signals servo drivers can precisely control the pan, tilt and shutter of the camera quickly and capture the best possible image.
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