luizcosta - if you're doing a PhD on automated testing, check out some of the cool things people do with National Instruments' LabVIEW. Some tie a camera to a test machine and have it watch the displays of the system under test. The NI stuff can parse what the camera sees and use it to close the test loop. (And send me a copy of your thesis when you're done!)
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.