UPSC has introduced Mechantronics in its Engineering Services exam recently. We will be introducing the basic concepts of Introduction to Mechatronics in this article, which can be used as short notes for preparing for UPSC ESE Mechanical subject on Mechatronics.

What is mechatronics?

The word "Mechatronics" was introduced by a Japanese engineer in the year 1969 by combining two words, mecha from mechanisms and tronics from electronics. Nowadays, the term is used to describe a philosophy in engineering technology which uses a co-ordinated, and simultaneously developed combination of mechanical engineering with electronics and computer control in manufacturing, design and other industrial processes. In mechatronic systems, many mechnanical processes are replace by electronic processes. This means greater flexibility, easy redesign and reprogramming. This also helps in automatic data collection and reports. 

The basic elements of a mechatronic system.

Example of Mechatronic system.

Let us consider the modern camera and its auto focus system. Nowadays, we just point and click to shoot a picture. The camera is itself able to adjust the focus by varying the aperture and shutter speed so as to get the correct exposure for the picture. There is no, or very little need of manual adjustment of focus for the perfect shot. This is a very commonly used example of a mechatronic system. 

Embedded systems

An embedded system is that system in which microprocessors are embedded into systems and it is this type of system that we generally deal with in mechatronics. A microprocessor is a collection of logic gates and memory elements that are not wired physically but are connected via software to implement the logical functions. The function of a microprocessor is to look at inputs to see whether they are ON or OFF, process the results of such inputs as per a program and then giving an output whether the input is ON or OFF. 

A microprocessor used in a control system needs some additional chips to have as memory for data storage and for Input/ output ports so that it is enabled to process signals. If all these extra facilities are integrated together on a single chip, then such a microprocessor is called microcontroller. 

An embedded system is a microprocessor based system that is designed to control a range of functions and is not designed to be programmed by the end user. 

The above line means, that the end user cannot change the function of an embedded system by adding or changing the software. 

Some examples of microcontrollers in a control system are:

  • Modern washing machines
  • pumps
  • modern car
  • cell phones etc.

 I hope that in this article, you have got an idea of what do we understand by the term Mechatronics and other terms associated with it. In the next article, we will understand the term Systems and we will further talk about modelling and measurement systems.