We think of motors typically as pretty dumb devices. Depending on the kind, you send them some current or some pulses, and they turn. No problem. Even an RC servo, which has some smarts on board, doesn’t have a lot of capability. However, there is a new generation of smart motors out that combine the mechanical motor mechanism with a built-in controller. [Bunnie] looks at one that isn’t even called a motor. It is the IQ position module.
Despite the name, these devices are just a brushless DC motor (BLDC) with a controller and an API. There’s no gearing, so backdriving the motor is permissible and it can even double as a motion sensor. The video below shows [Bunnie] making one module track the other using just a little bit of code.
To show an even more impressive example, [Bunnie] put together a 2-axis robot arm using these modules and some cardboard (see the second video, below). Not only was it built in about an hour, but it is programmed by an operator moving it as desired.
The nice thing about the smart motor concept is you can tell it a position and speed and it handles all the drive considerations. This can get complex with a regular motor. This isn’t the only smart motor out there, of course. And BLDCs are common enough — you can even build your own if you like.