The Technologies Driving Robotics and Motion Control Advancements

June 10, 2024

Advancements have transformed both the robotics and motion control industries. With this rapid advancement, the costs associated with deploying these innovations have been reduced dramatically. As a result, robotics technology and motion control systems are being deployed across a wide range of applications, across many different industries. Traditional technology, like sensors and actuators, is being used alongside AI, machine learning, and edge computing to bring robotics and motion control to life:

  • Sensor Systems – To safely and effectively work, robots and other autonomous machines need to gather information about their environment. This is done, primarily, through the use of sensor systems.
  • Vision Systems – Vision systems can be thought of as very specialized sensors. Essentially, vision systems allow robots and autonomous machines to capture, process, and interpret visual information from the world around them to make decisions. This is crucial for performing tasks like navigation, inspection, and manipulation.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning – The recent advancements in AI and machine learning are among the most important factors driving robotics and motion control systems. Essentially, AI and machine learning enable robots and other autonomous machines to learn from data, adapt to new situations, and improve their performance over time.
  • Advanced Actuators – Broadly, actuators allow robots and autonomous machines to act upon, or react, to the data gathered from the various sensor systems. Innovations in actuators, from electric, hydraulic, and pneumatic systems, have led to more precise, powerful, and efficient motion control.
  • Edge Computing and IoT – The integration of edge computing and IoT technology enables real-time data processing and decision-making at the robot or individual machine level, reducing latency and improving efficiency in robotic systems.

Industries and Applications Most Affected by Improved Robotics and Motion Control Systems


Taken as a whole, manufacturing has been the industry that has benefitted the most from the improvements in robotics and motion control. Specifically, improved robotics and motion control technology has completely transformed the industrial automation segment of manufacturing.

  • Robots and robotic arms have been adopted across the board as the control systems have made it possible for them to carry out the precision assembly tasks that require pinpoint accuracy.
  • Vision systems have dramatically improved the speed of quality control and product inspections by allowing automation of many of the tasks.
  • AI and machine learning have led to a greater understanding of processes and to better resource allocation, energy efficiency, and overall process optimization.


The healthcare industry has also seen major benefits from improving robotics and motion control systems. The effect of the new technology has not been in just one specific area, but throughout the entire industry.

  • Using robotic surgery systems – such as the da Vinci Surgical System, or one of many systems from Globus Medical – allows surgeons to perform complex procedures with enhanced precision, flexibility, and control. These systems translate the surgeon’s hand movements into smaller, precise movements of tiny instruments, leading to less invasive surgeries with smaller incisions, reduced blood loss, and faster recovery times.
  • Similarly, advances in robotics and high-speed communication networks enable surgeons to perform remote surgeries on patients located in different geographic locations. This is particularly useful in emergencies where specialist expertise is required but not locally available.
  • AI-powered robots and systems analyze medical images like X-rays, MRIs, or CT scans, to detect anomalies such as tumors, fractures, or other issues with much higher accuracy than human eyes alone.

Autonomous Vehicles

Another industry segment that has seen tremendous growth from the advancement of robotics and motion control is the development and manufacturing of autonomous vehicles (AVs). Beyond the manufacturing process – which has more or less followed the above section – robotics and motion control systems are driving substantial improvements in AV functionality, safety, and efficiency.

  • As noted in a previous article, the perception and sensing functionality of AVs has grown by leaps and bounds – both in terms of accuracy and in the ability to react – in the last few years.
  • Another area of rapid AV improvement is the motion planning and control functionality. The robotic and motion control hardware inside AVs is now able to compute the safest and most efficient path for the vehicle, all while considering factors like road conditions, traffic, and obstacle avoidance.
  • Further, the decision-making in AVs can mimic human driving behaviors, enabling the vehicles to handle complex driving scenarios like merging, overtaking, and yielding.

Military and Aerospace

Military and aerospace is another industry segment that has benefited from robotics and motion control system advancements. Many of the same advances in consumer-grade AVs apply to military and aerospace vehicles like unmanned aerial vehicles [UAVs], unmanned ground vehicles [UGVs], as well as seagoing drones: Unmanned Surface Vehicles [USVs] and autonomous underwater vehicles [AUVs].

  • In addition to the various vehicle-type drones, there is a whole class of autonomous combat robots currently in use or active development. Programs like the Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System [MAARS], or Special Weapons Observation Reconnaissance Detection System [SWORDS].
  • The remotely operated TALON robot has seen widespread deployment in a variety of applications, from explosive ordnance disposal to disaster response.
  • There has also been a recent push to automate segments of military logistics through the use of autonomous trucks and UGVs. Specifically, to transport supplies and equipment in contested or dangerous areas, reducing the risk to human drivers and ensuring reliable logistics.

Robotics at Sealevel

At Sealevel, we’re incorporating the capability for robotics and enhanced motion control for both custom and standard products. Specifically, our COM Express carrier board designs are empowering robotics and unmanned systems.  Computing systems for robotic applications requires robust I/O, enhanced processing, vibration tolerance, and a reduced footprint. COM Express architecture provides a cost-effective pathway as it enables integration with existing systems and advanced peripherals for reliable performance.

Sealevel worked with a not-for-profit research institute in the development of a powered exoskeleton to provide increased mobility and independence to people with lower limb paralysis. Ultimately, Sealevel designed the smallest available, full-feature Compact Type 6 Carrier Board at 95 millimeters square, the same size as a Compact Type 6 COM Express module. Using a COM Express architecture allowed Sealevel to incorporate the required I/O into the small footprint, including Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0, USB 2.0, GPIO, RS-232, and Mini DisplayPort. This example highlights the unique capabilities of a COM module and carrier board solution to meet the footprint and extensive I/O requirements often associated with robotic systems.

Paving the Way for the Future of Robotics

The rapid advancements in robotics and motion control systems have significantly transformed various industries by driving down costs and enhancing performance across multiple applications. Sensor systems, vision systems, AI and machine learning, advanced actuators, and edge computing are the core technologies propelling these innovations forward. These technological advancements are not only transforming existing practices but also paving the way for innovations and applications. As robotics and motion control systems continue to evolve, their impact will undoubtedly expand, further integrating these technologies into everyday operations and strategic initiatives across diverse sectors.