Human-machine systems


Информатика, кибернетика и программирование

This development has been driven by progress in innovative sensors and actuators and the increasing performance of computer systems including embedded systems for control. In addition recent developments of communication technologies have also led to novel distributed control technologies including systems with wire and wireless communications...



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1 Components and instruments…………………………………..…..4

2 Mechatronics………………………………………………….……5

3 Robotics……………………………………………………….……6

4 Human-machine systems…………………………………………...7




Control technologies and applications have experienced highly significant developments in the last 10 years. This development has been driven by progress in innovative sensors and actuators, and the increasing performance of computer systems, including embedded systems for control.

In addition, recent developments of communication technologies have also led to novel distributed control technologies, including systems with wire and wireless communications in the control loops and networked systems with multiple interconnected objects. The application domains are very large; including process control with very complex interconnected systems, factory automation as well as robotics, building automation, and transportation systems, which is today one of the most "pushing" domains.

This paper pays significant attention to the field of Components and Instruments for control including sensors, actuators, embedded systems and communications. This paper also devotes particular attention to Mechatronic Systems. For many years control engineers have been using sensors and electronic processing to enhance and/or alter the performance of mechanical systems, in many cases to provide a level of functionality that is not possible without the electronics. The sophistication which has more recently been possible through increasingly powerful processing devices and heightened software skills has resulted in an increasing trend towards embedded mechatronic solutions involving a synergetic combination of mechanics, electronics, software and computing. This necessitates a multi-disciplinary understanding of the relevant scientific and engineering principles, and the individual knowledge of the mechatronic engineer must be sufficiently comprehensive to be able to create the innovative combination that makes up mechatronic solutions.

Robotics is a relatively new field in science and engineering. The broadly accepted definition is that robotics is an intelligent connection of perception to action. Robot perception is performed by sensors. Sensors allow robots to sense and interact with the changing environment. Information acquired by the robot is then processed using intelligent algorithms. The resulting commands are passed on to the actuators –devices that drive joints and actuate parts of the robots. This paper also focuses on Robotics. The study of interactions between human and machines is an important aspect in the adoption of control technologies involving both technical issues and social implications. Human-machine studies consider all conditions where humans (individuals as well as groups) use, control or supervise tools, machines or technological systems. It fosters analysis, design, modeling and evaluation of Human Machine Systems (HMS) which includes: decision making and cognitive processes, modeling of human performance (reliability, mental work load, predictability), real and virtual environments, design methodology, task allocation-sharing and job design, intelligent interfaces, human operator support, work organization, and selection and training criteria. All these aspects related to human-machine interactions are also considered in the paper.

Components and Instruments

In the area of factory automation (see proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Emerging Technologies and Factory Automation) we may expect a future intensive use of intelligent components in applications ensuring the monitoring of the environment (see Akyildiz et all, 2002). The research in new solid state sensors using microelectronic technologies, embedding signal processing and pattern recognition functionalities will probably evolve soon in the production of electronic noses able of detecting and identifying numerous varieties of harmful gas like the CO2 or the cooling gases (see Nagle et al, 1998). These sensors will become essential parts of a monitoring system aiming to fight against atmospheric pollution. It also indicates an open research topic for additional applications in areas like medicine, leading to a massive production of biomedical wearable devices (see proceedings of the IEEE International symposium on BIO-Informatics and Biomedical Engineering and. Schwiebert et al, 2001).

In the biomedical field, the current applications are mainly focused on the remote monitoring of physiological signals like blood pressure, electrocardiogram, etc. But intelligent components can also contribute to the monitoring and control of the muscular movements or the artificial heart, to the detection of brain malfunction and so on.

As far as Components and Instruments for transportation/automotive are concerned, one of the most recent and challenging topics for research activities is certainly the very important advances related to Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). These include several functions related to the vehicle longitudinal and lateral control: Lane Departure Warning (LDW), ACC (Adaptive Cruise Control), Lane Keeping, Stop and Go Function etc. Development of these new functions is strongly related to sensor technology push, the tremendous increase of real time processing capabilities, and of course the latest advances in terms of signal processing, image processing and so on (see Walldorf and Gessner, 2003 and Krueger and Gessner, 2002). The first examples of these new systems are now coming to the market, for example Daimler Chrysler is commercializing a Lane Departure Warning systems for their trucks (ACTROS).

Some of the main research and developments trends for the very next years are:

• To provide new generation of sensors (video sensor-cameras, RADAR, LIDAR, etc) able to fulfill automotive specific requirements: low cost (some Euro!), high quality, severe environmental constraints (for example temperature ranges from - 40° to 105°, low sensitivity to EMC, . ..), capacity to operate in adverse situations (for example, for camera, ability to operate by night, by day, with very contrasted scenes, . ..).

• To provide sophisticated data fusion, software processing, and algorithms able to extract from complex information more synthetic data (for example driver eye gaze or eyelid movement, driver posture and activity, obstacle detection and classification, etc).


Fig. 1: Example of Integrated low cost stereovision

camera module.


Many industries over the last decade have made great strides towards mechatronic solutions, some of which link strongly to developments identified elsewhere in this article, especially those related to Components and Instruments. Key industries where mechatronic products are fundamental to their current production technology are:

• Automotive: active steering for automobiles is now in series production with BMW; the electrohydraulic brake (Bosch, Mercedes Benz).

• Combustion engines: the common rail injection system for Diesel engines and also the injection systems for gasoline engines.

• Data storage: sophisticated but extremely cost effective magnetic and optical storage systems based upon sophisticated embedded control highly integrated with the mechanics of the products.

• Tilting technology in trains enabling higher speeds through curves; active secondary suspensions to give improved ride quality.

• And many others …

Progress is being made towards tackling a number of the key skills issues in mechatronics. Universities have recognised industry’s needs for multidisciplinary engineers and are increasingly offering targeted mechatronic undergraduate programmes that satisfy some of the multidisciplinary skills requirements, and through this and other trends there is undoubtedly a greater awareness within industry of the importance of the mechatronic approach than there was (say) 10 years ago.

Design tools are progressively improving in their ability to handle the multi-domain modelling in a usable manner, although truly multi-objective optimisation capabilities remain limited (and where they are provided they are often under-exploited). In general modern design tools are better at providing the full-complexity simulation models than they are the appropriate simplified models needed for control design; even though formal model reduction techniques are available, they need considerable translation for use in a practical design context, in addition to which they are primarily based upon linear(ised) models because non-linear model reduction is still an open research problem.

The overall research trends must therefore be towards more systems-oriented design methodologies and software tools that can provide real support for the burgeoning range of mechatronic products and processes, in particular bringing in some of the increasingly critical requirements related to fault tolerance, human factors, etc.


There are number of major achievements and trends in robotics. One of them is development of autonomous systems. In particular, the rapid progress in development of autonomous Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) (Jardin and Bryson, 2001; Ollero and Merino, 2004; Wu et al, 2004) with sophisticated formation flight control (Binetti et al, 2003; Patcher et al, 2001) is a significant accomplishment.

Several unmanned aerial vehicles were tested in USA and Europe. Some of them are small and the other large vehicles. They move slow (helicopter like UAV) or fast (hypersonic UAV) and they represent one of the fastest growing area of advanced technologies at present time. Fig. 3 shows two robotic aircrafts (http://www.uavforum.com/).


Fig. 2: 3a Aerosonde Robotic Aircraft, 3b Boeing X-

45 UCAV.

Yet another important and promising sub-field of robotics is underwater robotics. The underwater robots are used in underwater exploration, mining, oil industry and military application, e.g. mine detection. Many Unmanned Underwater vehicles have been also developed (see for example Figure 4).

The second major achievement is in telerobotics, especially in medical applications. Medical surgery performed from a remote location has now become a reality. For example the first successful surgery across the continents took place in 2001 when an American doctor from New York removed the diseased gallbladder in a 68 year old patient in Strasbourg, France.

The third major progress and accomplishment can be identified is space robotics. The exploration of outer planets (e.g. Mars) using mobile robots is a spectacular success (http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/videos). The Mars exploration mission is still underway (Fall 2004) using mobile robot explorer named Spirit. The Space Station built at the Earth orbit is being equipped with the Canadarm2, seven degree of freedom robotic manipulator that will help to further develop and maintain the space station. The Mars exploration mission is still underway (Fall 2004) using mobile robot explorer named Spirit.

Fig. 3: HUV Underwater Robot.

The Space Station built at the Earth orbit is being equipped with the Canadarm2, seven degree of freedom robotic manipulator that will help to further develop and maintain the space station. The Canadarm2 is fitted with yet another two-arm robotic manipulator called Special Purpose Dextrous Manipulator (SPDM) shown in Fig. 5. The Personal Space Assistant (PSA) a free flying robot is being developed by the NASA Ames Centre.

Fig. 5. Special Purpose Dextrous Manipulator (SPDM.

Human-machine systems

Driven by the change of attitude of manufacturers recognizing that “functionalities” is a very shortsighted marketing strategy, and of industrial customers recognizing that a human-centered HMS leads to more efficient use of the expensive equipments as described in section 2.4 of this report, an increasing interest in development and implementation of human-centered user interfaces has been noticed within industry. Starting with consumer areas like mobile phones or smart homes and moving into the broad area of web-site usability, the ideas of user-centered HMS are nowadays also accepted by other parts of industry like capital goods and the automotive industry.

Over the last years a lot of research work was carried out in the field of human-centered system design. But compared to other scientific fields, the area is very broad and influenced by several sciences:

• The social demands are mainly pushed by social scientists under the subject of socio-technical system design.

• Researchers with a psychology background focus their work under the subject of cognitive engineering.

• The work ergonomics tend to call their subject usability engineering.

• The computer science community talks about system engineering and intelligent user interfaces based on principles from the AI (Artificial

Intelligence) field.

But, as a German survey among several hundred equipment manufacturers in 2003 showed, 75% of the industrial user interfaces are designed by engineers who are facing many theories which go far beyond their actual need. The survey also revealed that industry is still thinking and structured in simple traditional categories like hardware and software engineering. Therefore, in 1997 the major German societies for computer sciences (GI), ergonomics (GfA), information technology (VDE-ITG) and automation (VDI-GMA) established the new subject Useware Engineering (UE).

The term useware was carefully chosen in analogy to hard- and software and describes all hardware and software components to implement as well as methods to design human-machine-systems (Oberquelle, 2002; http://www.useware-forum.de). It was felt that one catch-word will help to better identify the community dealing with all aspects of HMS. After six years, the latest survey showed that this subject is well accepted in the German industry and leads to the necessary discernment that useware is at least of equal importance as hard- or software. The described situation should not be misinterpreted as a competitive situation; it rather demonstrates the interdisciplinary orientation of this field. All approaches have the same goal: to design complex technical systems based on capabilities and needs of human users.

Looking into the more technical fields, a rapid move towards a broad use of modern PC-based equipment is to be recognized. The surveys show that the industry is using more and more the well-proven and standardized hard- and software components from the PC-market. There are VGA/XGA-color displays with or without touch input, mouse-devices, windows-like operating systems, browsers etc. These technologies allow the implementation of very powerful and also cost-efficient HMS.

Whereas the majority of industrial users are still on the PC level, the leading players are moving towards new technologies. One very recent trend is the increasing use of mobile computing devices in the industrial areas which nowadays offer a power performance profile that is sufficient even in high reliability application areas. Whether these devices are smart-phones, PDAs or dedicated mobile computers, they will be used as a replacement for or additional front-end to traditional operating panels. Communication between the controllers and thesedevices will use the wireless networking standards available today like WLAN, Bluetooth or UMTS. The increased mobility of the worker will surely lead to new forms of work in a sense that the interaction location is no longer identical to the process location. This will require new work and data security regulations. One problem is user authentification. Besides the well-known knowledge-based methods (e.g. passwords) new biometrical methods (e.g. iris scan, finger print scan) are close to industrial use. Mobile devices will not only be handheld but also become an integral part of the human (work) clothes. These real wearable systems will bring new forms of interaction to the user.

When using mobile devices the location of the user in relation to the process equipment becomes very important. Therefore, these devices must correspond to location based services offered by the environment. While the GPS system is limited to outdoor applications with a resolution between 5 and 30 meters, new systems for indoor use with resolutions down to centimeters or even millimeters are required. And for augmented reality applications they must offer precise angle information besides the lateral position data. Here, 4-5 different location detection technologies based on RF, US and IR methods have been developed today, but they are still in a laboratory phase.

Mobile devices and embedded systems, wireless adhoc networks and location based services are basic building blocks for the next generation of user interfaces. This will be the pervasive computing, ubiquitous computing or ambient intelligence era. The future systems will be invisibly integrated into everyday devices. The users will interact with those devices human-like via natural speech, gesture or mimics (Johannsen, 2002).

Evaluating the research and application of HMS worldwide, it must be stated that until today nearly all activities are to be found in the industrialized countries. Here, the existing technology fulfils the basic needs of the market. And with nearly all producers fulfilling these needs other differentiating topics become important for successfully selling equipment. Besides the joy-of-use factor as one important topic, more and more the ease-of-use factor is recognized as being a topic of equal importance.

Another disappearing phenomenon is the north south-gradient. Whereas ergonomics and HMS have a long tradition in the more northern countries, in the southern countries the interest is still developing. But the globalization of markets and the establishment of technical standards, e.g. set by the EC or by ISO, will force all nations to accept usability issues.


This paper has outlined the current key problems, accomplishments and forecasts in control technologies including components and instruments, mechatronics, robotics, human-machine systems and cost oriented automation.

Two different general trends can be identified. The first one is development of embedded components and systems integrating perception, control and actuation functions that can be used, eventually, in a transparent way. This trend has been motivated by recent technological developments (hardware integration, MEMS, …) and the requirements imposed by new applications (vehicles, autonomous systems, consumer products, biomedical systems, engines, manufacturing …). MEMS and nanotechnologies could be one of the most significant control demanding fields in the future.

The second is the distribution of sensing and control functions. Thus, distributed control systems with wire and wireless connections between components and embedded controllers have emerged in the last years, also pushed by the developments in communications technology and new applications (Tele- applications, distributed manufacturing, protection of people and environment, home automation, …).

Thus, one of the main general forecasts/trends is the integration of control and perception components into embedded systems that can be networked using wire or wireless technologies, leading to “cooperating objects”, with sensing and/or actuation capabilities based on sensor fusion methods that allow full interaction with the environment.

The main trends in the applications of these technologies are medicine (surgical devices, medical instruments), new cars, vehicles and transportation technologies, autonomous systems technology (UAV, UGV, AUVs, multi-robot systems), industrial robotics and automation technology, technologies for safety critical and hostile environments (space, disaster remediation, defence, …), security technologies, energy savings (mixed energy sources, small scale energy systems) and biotechnologies.

The consequences of communications can be considered two-fold: firstly, communication technologies demand the application of new control systems (i.e. network control, wireless devices control). Secondly, communication is a key technology for the implementation of control systems in the above mentioned applications.

The general requirements in most of the above mentioned technologies are: performance, reliability, cost, ease of use and maintainability, and these must remain the principal focus of future research in the all the subjects relevant to the area of Mechatronics, Robotics and Components.


  1.  Cao Y.U., A.S. Fukunaga and A.B. Kahng (1997). “Cooperative mobile robotics: antecedents and
  2.  directions”. Autonomous Robots, 4, 1-23.
  3.  Grace R.H., (2002). Markets Opportunities for MEMS/MST in Automotive applications. In Advanced Microsystems for Automotive Yearbook 2003; pp 3-12; Springer-Verlag, March 2002 Berlin (Germany).
  4.  http://www.humanoidrobots.org
  5.  http://www.huv.com/uSeeker/index.html
  6.  http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/videosp://www.mdrobotics.
  7.  ca/wwdframe.html
  8.  http://www.service-robots.org/CleaningRobots.php
  9.  http://www.uavforum.com/
  10.  http://www.useware-forum.de


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