Solar-powered robot uses energy-efficient DC motors

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Maxon's RE 40 and RE 35 high-efficiency brushed DC motors, with planetary gearheads, are being used in a solar-powered eco-robot that monitors environmental conditions in the Amazon Basin.

Robotics and the use of maxon's DC motors have helped create a roving, solar-powered eco-robot that monitors the Amazon's ecosystem. Named Chico Mendes in honour of a rainforest activist killed in 1988, the new robot is powered by maxon's DC motors and is used for exploration and analysis in areas of rainforest which are under threat from increased extraction of oil and gas.

Designed and constructed in partnership by sociological research institute Piatam (Potential Impacts and Environmental Risks of the Petroleum and Gas Industry in the Amazon), the Brazilian state university and Petrobras, the robot monitors water and soil quality in the Amazon Basin.

Believed to be the first of its kind, the robot minimises its own impact on the environment by using solar power and energy-efficient motors to travel unaided through the mud and swamps of the Amazon. To ensure the environmental robot runs as efficiently as possible, the designers have incorporated eight of maxon's high-performance DC motors that deliver high performance in a tiny space, with minimal energy consumption.

maxon's RE 40 and RE 35 motors power the wheels and adaptive suspension, respectively, while two planetary gearheads provide the necessary combination of speed and torque. The motors use brushes made of precious metal to ensure constant, low-contact resistance with the commutator, as well as low start-up voltages and minimal electrical interference, meaningChico Mendes will remain highly efficient for years to come.

maxon motor uk senior engineer Paul Williams says: "maxon is proud to be so intimately involved in this important environmental project. Remaining autonomous in such a remote, challenging location puts a real emphasis on efficiency and reliability, so our brushed motors are a perfect match."

The RE-max series features in the 2010/11 maxon motor catalogue, which is available online at

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