Positioning servomechanisms were first used in military fire-control and marine navigation equipment. Today servomechanisms are used in automatic machine tools, satellite-tracking antennas, remote control airplanes, automatic navigation systems on boats and planes, and antiaircraft-gun control systems. Other examples are fly-by-wire systems in aircraft which use servos to actuate the aircraft control surfaces, and radio-controlled models which use RC servos for the same purpose. Many autofocus cameras also use a servomechanism to accurately move the lens. A hard disk drive has a magnetic servo system with sub-micrometre positioning accuracy. In industrial machines, servos are used to perform complex motion, in many applications.
What is commonly referred to as microstepping is often sine–cosine microstepping in which the winding current approximates a sinusoidal AC waveform. Sine–cosine microstepping is the most common form, but other waveforms can be used. Regardless of the waveform used, as the microsteps become smaller, motor operation becomes more smooth, thereby greatly reducing resonance in any parts the motor may be connected to, as well as the motor itself. Resolution will be limited by the mechanical stiction, backlash, and other sources of error between the motor and the end device. Gear reducers may be used to increase resolution of positioning.
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