Real life applications of Mechatronics
By: Laura Dugan
It’s likely that you or someone in your family has come face-to-face with mechatronics even if you don’t think you have. Mechatronics is used in manufacturing, health care, space exploration, and in tools that make our lives easier on a day-to-day basis.
Mechatronics is the broad term for integrating mechanical, telecommunication, and computer engineering, frequently using microcontrollers. Mechatronics engineers may program robots, design telecommunications systems, or develop nanotechnology.
Where have you encountered mechatronics in real life?
In Health Care
Robotic surgery has been around since 2000, when the da Vinci Surgical System was approved by the FDA. The robot includes a camera on one arm and surgical equipment on the other. Using a robot to perform surgery has many benefits, including being less invasive, which leads to faster recovery and less risk of infection.
New surgical robots are being developed for eye surgery, targeting lung cancer, knee surgery, and laparoscopic surgeries. One robot, called CorPath, is enabling surgeons to perform procedures from a distance. In December 2018, CorPath was used by a surgeon to conduct an elective procedure on a patient that was 20 miles away. Read more about this revolutionary procedure.
Around the House
Refrigerators that can order milk when you are running low. Washers that text you when the load is ready for the dryer. Vacuums that carry cats around the house while they clean your hardwood floors. All of these devices are available due to mechatronics. And, of course, who is ever without their smart phone? A cell phone’s camera, for example, uses mechatronics to take cute pictures and videos of your cat riding that robotic vacuum.
In the Car
Mechatronics engineering has saved thousands of lives through the advent of anti-lock brakes and stabilization, air bag inflation, and fully autonomous vehicles. The U.S. Postal System is even testing autonomous trucksto deliver the mail.
The manufacturing process has become largely automated, and that is frequently due to integration of mechatronics. Industrial robots perform consistently and quickly, enabling manufacturers to keep up with demand while reducing costs. Like many other areas, manufacturing has adopted “smart” technology to ensure efficiency.
The Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity provided a view of the red planet that had never been seen, sending to Earth a combined 342,432 pictures. Some proposed uses for mechatronics in space exploration include robotic arms on the International Space Station, development of life-sustaining systems on the moon or otherwise uninhabitable planets, or flying robots to examine planets’ surfaces.
As you drive to work, walk to class, or lounge on the couch, take a look around and think about the impact mechatronics has had on you.
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