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Automated Systems. Lesson 3: Getting the Robot to do work. Lesson 3: Automated Systems. By the end of this lesson you will be able to:. Identify what the controlling computer does. Explain what a control program is. Explain what a sensor is. Explain why sensors are needed.

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Automated systems

Automated Systems

Lesson 3: Getting the Robot to do work

By the end of this lesson you will be able to

Lesson 3: Automated Systems

By the end of this lesson you will be able to:

  • Identify what the controlling computer does.

  • Explain what a control program is.

  • Explain what a sensor is.

  • Explain why sensors are needed.

  • Explain the term feedback.

  • Explain what happens to the feedback.

  • Explain why an interface is required.

  • Explain the term analogue signal.

  • Explain the term digital signal

  • Explain what a AD to DA converter does.

Controlling computer

Lesson 3: Automated Systems

Controlling Computer

Controlling Computer

  • A robot must be connected to a controlling computer.

  • The controlling computer sends instructions to the arm.

  • The controlling computer is the "brain" of the robot.

  • The controlling computer will have a control program uploaded onto it ie a set of instructions written in code.

Sensors feedback

Lesson 3: Automated Systems




Sensors & Feedback

Robots need sensors to “sense” their surroundings. All physical properties can be measured with sensors such as light, heat, sound, pressure, acidity and humidity.  

Sensors collect information to be used by the controlling computer to decide what to do next. This process is known as feedback.


Control Instruction

  • Feedback is essential for most automated systems, eg

    • the temperature of water needs to be fed back to be able to control a kettle

    • the microwaves have to be fed back to traffic light control systems.

There are many different types of sensors,


Lesson 3: Automated Systems

Control program instruction




Analogue signals vary in strength:

eg temperature goes gradually up and down

pressure gradually builds and fades.


Digital signals are either 0 or 1:



An interface is needed between a sensor and the controlling computer.

The interface is required because sensors are analogue yet the controlling computer understands digital data only. The interface converts the signals.

Ad and da converters

Lesson 3: Automated Systems









AD and DA Converters

An AD converter is the interface that translatesanalogue data into digital data.

AD Converter

A DA converter is the interface that translatesdigital data into analogue data.

DA Converter


Lesson 3: Automated Systems


Answer the following questions in your jotter.

  • Name the part of the automated system that control the action.

  • Why is a sensor needed?

  • List 3 types of sensors and explain what each could be used for.

  • Explain the term feedback.

  • Why is feedback necessary?

  • What happens as a result of feedback?

  • Explain why a interface is required.

  • Draw a diagram of where an interface will be positioned in system.

  • What is an AD converter?

  • What does a DA converter do and why?

Fun things to do
Fun Things To Do

Try programming the Picobot using it’s sensor.

Try programming Lego Robot cars.

Robots with a sense of touch

Beetles & Sensors

Robot Cars

Smart Cars