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This paper presents a novel detection method for broken rotor bar fault (BRB) in induction motors based on the estimation of signal parameters via rotational invariance technique (ESPRIT) and simulated annealing algorithm (SAA). The performance of ESPRIT is tested with the simulated stator current signal of an induction motor with BRB. It shows that even with short-time measurement data, the technique is capable of correctly identifying the frequencies of the BRB characteristic components but with a low accuracy on the amplitudes and initial phases of those components. The SAA is then used to determine their amplitudes and initial phases and shows satisfactory results. Finally, experiments on a 3-kW, 380-V, 50-Hz induction motor are conducted to demonstrate the effectiveness of the ESPRIT-SAA-based method in detecting BRB with short-time measurement data. It proves that the proposed method is a promising choice for BRB detection in induction motors operating with small slip and fluctuant load.