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Linear Differential Mechanism

Stage: Prototype

The Linear Differential Mechanism is new motion platform technology developed at INL that can be used for compact rotation and translation. Current motion platforms are restricted by having to use overly strong and expensive motors and/or slower motion abilities. The current parallel robotic platforms that solve this issue (e.g., Delta and Stewart Platforms) are severely limited in possible motions. This device provides more precise rotation and translation and can also provide cost and time savings by using smaller motors and less robust, and therefore less expensive, components. 

Researchers at INL have developed the Linear Differential Mechanism that overcomes the limitations listed above for applications requiring one translational DOF and one rotational DOF. This mechanism produces this combination of translation and rotation at an end effector or platform via two fixed motors. Pure translation can be achieved by rotating the motors in the same direction or opposite directions. Other rotational combinations cause a combination of translation and rotation. This configuration allows such motion without either motor being part of the payload, thus increasing speed and reducing motor demands. 

Applications and Industries

• Handheld Drills

• Orthoscopic Surgery

• Drill Press

• Drilling Rigs

• Robotic Systems


• Allows translation and rotation motion combinations while increasing speed and reducing motor demands.

• Provides more precise motion while using smaller motors and less robust components, thereby saving time and money.

• Motions can be accomplished in a smaller overall volume and can locate the motors near, further, or a combination thereof from the end effector.

• Compared to other solutions, this technology’s open, yet compact, architecture allows direct access to the end effector in an elegant way, which allows for each of the drive motors and their entire drive mechanisms to be maintained and replaced without disturbing the end effector or vice versa.


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