PC-based control is making a quiet comeback, in part because of an eroding dividing line between PLCs, PCs and ‘soft’ control. At least, that’s the opinion of David Humphrey, an analyst for ARC Advisory Group (http://rbi.ims.ca/4927-535) who reports on automation trends. PC-based control today ranges from software such as a ‘soft’ PLC delivered on a CD-ROM that runs as a task on a Windows platform, to PLC-like controllers running small footprint or embedded versions of Windows. The lines are blurring between PLCs and PC-based control, and the focus is on software integration. Humphrey uses a “Programmable Automation Controller”(PAC) to describe solutions that provide users with an integrated view of control tasks from a single tag database. New products are offering a variety of solutions, but ultimately the premium is providing users a unified environment for control.
Some humanoid walking robots are also good at running, balancing, and coordinated movements in group settings. Several of our sports robots have won regional or worldwide acclaim in the RoboCup soccer World Cup, or FIRST Robotics competitions. Others include the world's first hockey-playing robot and a trash-talking Scrabble player.
The DDV-IP is a two-wheeled self-balancing robot that can deliver cold beverages to thirsty folks on hot summer days. A wireless RF remote enables manual control of the device beyond the act of self-balancing. All of the features of the DDV-IP result in an effective delivery vehicle while providing entertainment to the user.
Eric Doster of iFixit talks about the most surprising aspect of the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 teardown. In a presentation at Medical Design & Manufacturing Midwest, iFixit gave the Surface Pro 3 a score of one (out of a possible 10) for repairability.
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