Control technology

Control technology is used to:

  • operate systems, eg traffic lights
  • control actions, eg a robot’s movement
  • create video games
  • control manufacturing devices, eg laser cutters

Computers follow instructions or sequences programmed into them. A flowchart can be used to help design a sequence. Actions can be ordered, reordered or removed if no longer necessary.

Robot being programmed to move

Advantages of computer control systems

  • Computers do not need breaks.
  • Computers can repeat actions in an identical way indefinitely.
  • Computers can work in environments that are dangerous for people.

Disadvantages of computer control systems

  • A computer is only as good as its programming ,which may contain errors.
  • If a computer is underpowered it might take too long to do something in a time-critical situation.
  • A computer faced with conditions not covered in its programming will not know what to do.

Control systems within the home

There are many items within our homes that use control systems. These include:

  • electric kettles
  • washing machines
  • TV remotes
  • TV recording devices
  • security lights
  • robotic vacuum cleaners

Robotics is a growing and developing field made possible by control. The abilities of robots will improve with the development of better sequences and technology.

One area where robotics plays an important role is in the unmanned exploration of distant planets.

CAD or CAM

Computer aided design (CAD) or computer aided manufacture (CAM) is using computers to design products in either 2D or 3D. They are then manufactured.

3D printers and laser cutters are examples of CAD or CAM in action.