Industry 4.0 @home: riding a Cyber-Physical System

For many people, a Cyber-Physical System sounds like something from a science-fiction movie. For those familiar with Industry 4.0 and the smart factories, it should make sense as an integrated system combining sensors, embedded software and actuators. How about an everyday example to understand it the easy way?

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Segway PT

Segway PT

You may be more familiar with the kids’ hoverboards or the famous Segway PT (Personal Transporter). Those are Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS). They are built around sensors that detect body movements, wheels’ speed, among others, an embedded software to analyse the sensors’ data and actuators (motors) to drive the wheels, and of course a battery to power all that up.

Basically, the hoverboard or Segway PT analyses in real-time the sensors’ data to determine what to achieve: move forward, speed up, turn left or right, keep balance, reverse, etc. The motors are then driven accordingly to achieve the expected action.

It is called a Cyber-Physical System because the system is able to interact with the physical world i.e. rotate the wheels as a result of processing the data, the cyber part of it.

Such a system autonomous, allowing the hoverboard to operate without connection to a server or any external system.

All that said, a Cyber-Physical System is a bit less science-fiction and you or your kids may even ride one.

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One thought on “Industry 4.0 @home: riding a Cyber-Physical System

  1. As many things in Industry 4.0, cyber-physical systems are not precisely defined. From what I have seen, however, they have two features that I don’t see in your description of the Segway, simulation and connectivity.
    You have control systems that simulate the behavior of the object they are controlling and respond to gaps between parameter values from sensors and from the simulation, and are networked with other objects.
    In an aircraft’s autopilot, the ded. reckoning position from the inertial navigation system plays the role of the simulation and the GPS that of the sensors. In the control system of a fleet of autonomous vehicles, each one is aware of the positions of the others, which means that they are networked.

    See for a example of a control of additive manufacturing of metal parts through simulation.


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