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In this paper, two novel adaptation schemes are proposed to replace the classical PI controller used in model reference adaptive speed-estimation schemes that are based on rotor flux. The first proposed adaptation scheme is based on sliding-mode theory. A new speed-estimation adaptation law is derived using Lyapunov theory to ensure estimation stability, as well as fast error dynamics. The other adaptation mechanism is based on fuzzy-logic strategy. A detailed experimental comparison between the new and conventional schemes is carried out in both open- and closed-loop sensorless modes of operation when a vector control drive is working at very low speed. Superior performance has been obtained using the new sliding-mode and fuzzy-logic adaptation mechanisms in both modes of operations.