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Glossary

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A

Acceleration

A change in velocity (that is changing speed and/or direction of travel).

Algorithm

A set of actions which, if followed, achieve a particular task. These are typically expressed in language a human can ‘understand’ and may be converted into specific commands that a machine such as a computer can obey.

B

Baxter robot

A modern industrial robot designed specifically to interact safely with humans.

C

Cybernetics

The science of control and communication (in the animal and the machine) – the science of feedback systems – incorporating control, learning and interaction.

Cyborg

A cybernetic organism comprising a mixture of organic and mechanical electronic components.

D

Closed Loop control

A feedback loop used to control a device.

E

Electronics

The science of the flow and control of electrons from devices such as batteries through electric components such as resistors and motors.

F

Feedback Loop

A circular path along which information is passed.

Force

The strength associated with action or movement.

Fuzzy Logic

A form of logic which deals with approximate values, as opposed to logic signals which are true or false only.

G

Gripper

An end effector used for sizing or holding something (a simple hand).

H

Haptics

Interaction involving the sense of touch.

Human Computer Interaction (HCI)

The design and use of computer technology which allows humans to interface with computers.

I

Input device

One of many different devices which allow a human to interact with a machine like a computer or robot – including keyboard, mouse, touchpad.

Integral control

A method used in Feedback Control where the output of the controller depends on its input (typically the error) and previous values of its output.

L

Laser

A branch of mathematics concerned with signals that can be only true or false, and which form the basis of modern computers.

M

Mechatronics

In engineering a combination of mechanical, electrical, control, computer and communication engineering.

Microcontroller

A small computer system, typically on a single integrated circuit, comprising the microprocessor, memory and peripherals.

P

Pitch

The steepness of a slope/ for a flying object it is its rotation around the ‘side-to-side’ axis (see Roll and Yaw also).

Program

A series of instructions which can be obeyed (by a computer or a robot) to achieve a task.

R

Rotary motion

Movement where something turns on the spot, or around a joint.

S

Sensor

A device which is used to measure a quantity – such as the distance to an object or the speed of a robot.

Signal

In Electronics it is a current/voltage/electromagnetic field used to convey information.

Simulation

A computer program which tries to emulate the behaviour of something – in this course we use simulations of robots moving around an arena.

Software

A set of instructions which direct how a computer performs specific tasks.

T

Touch sensor

A sensor which measures some aspect of the physical contact with an object.

Transducer

A device which converts energy from one form to another – e.g. motor speed to an electrical signal.

U

Ultrasonic sensor

A sensor which emits ultrasound and then detects any ultrasound that returns.

V

Velocity

The speed at which an object is travelling and the direction in which it is travelling.

Vision Sensor

A device which gives a visual representation of something – typically from a camera.

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