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For the high-end R/C gear, the cost is generally high – approaching 00 per controller, if not more, and of course you need at least two generally plus spares.
Most recently, with the proliferation of brushless EV (such as e-bike) motors and brushless servomotors, more robots such as Overdrive and Chomp (ABC S1) have used brushless systems.
These systems have become more ‘general purpose’ – you can usually plug one motor into another controller and have it either work, or require minimal tuning to work, but are still frequently sold as complete systems.
Usually created for model airplanes, the controllers are lightly built, “rated” to an inch of the components’ lives using unrealistic methods, and usually do not feature reversing or the ability to maintain torque at low speeds and near-stall conditions, which is where DC motors shine.
Generally, hobby motor controllers are not outfitted with any type of encoder or motor position sensor inputs, relying on motor back-emf sensing to start and run the motor, which means the motor has a minimum speed under which it will not behave.
In short, they offer immensely improved power to weight ratios compared to DC brush motors, even high-performance thoroughbred ones like Ampflows.
The missing link to using them for drivetrains has been control.
The second constraint of brushless drive is that of adequate operating envelopes.
Hobby R/C motors, the ICBMs, are promising in their power to weight ratio and power to cost ratio, but hobby motor control is not well suited for the task.
Many things will work for robots if you are willing to fiddle.
So that’s one constraint – ease of control implementation, and needing to be significantly invested in the details of operation of one particular system.
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