By Jim MortonSeveral years ago four of us rented a Pontiac Montana while touring the Pacific Northwest. The RH sliding door was motorized, with an electric motor pulling on wire cables. The doors also self-locked as the vehicle started to move.
Being an automotive product planner from another company, one day while riding in the second row RH seat, I decided to see what happened when you commanded the door to open while the vehicle was moving (slowly). I heard the door motor run and then stop but the door stayed closed because it was locked. Later when stopped I pushed the button to open the door, the latch released, and the door exploded open like an arrow shot from a bow, powered by the cable that was already fully tensioned. Only monkeys would let the door motor run when the door was locked.
Ask me about Montana’s the parking-brake foot pedal that won’t release unless you push on the service brake and with the other foot push on the parking brake pedal again. If you are not familiar with that trick you can hold up a whole load of cars when the ferry reaches Vancouver Island.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.