What is the difference between a motor controller and a motor driver and what do they do?

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What is the difference between a motor controller and a motor driver and what do they do?

This is quite tricky to differentiate as the words are used used interchangeably in day-to-day life. However, there is a subtle difference between the two I believe.

A motor drive is certainly something that makes the motor move as per the given instructions that come out of a motor controller. For instance, an L293D is a motor driver IC that is essentially an H-bridge which establishes different polarities on the terminals of a DC motor. For one terminal, the four possible combinations of polarities could be + -, + +, - -, - +.

These are the possible configurations that the DC motor can be setup in. But, who decides these configurations and timing cycles for the same? It is the controller(could be an electronic circuitry or even a piece of code) that generates these signals to make the motor work. The signal could be value of voltage on the poles(that essentially might control the speed/torque in a PMDC motor) or switching time(that decides the direction of rotation).

The motor drive makes the switching, the timing cycles and implementation of PWM possible. But, the controller decides these characteristics that are modified to control speed, acceleration, torque and other salient features.

On a broader level, the controller is like the administrative wing and the drive is the execution wing. For a field controlled DC motor, the armature current and voltage are manipulated by the drive using semiconductor circuits while the amount of changed is decided by the controller based on the feedback and the requirements.

Pardon me for slight repetitive sections in the answer. I would later put my thoughts into words more concisely.

Hope this solves your problem.

All the best. Cheers.

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