Cyber-physical systems?


[]( : This is way over my head, and the simple english wikipedia doesn’t have an entry for this yet.

Please explain this cyber-physical systems to me like I’m an idiot – thank you!

In: 2

Imagine you have a ton of cash to automate your home. You have motion sensors, cameras, motors, actuators, and a smart phone app to allow you to monitor and control it all. When you get up in the morning,

* a photo sensor measures the amount of light outside and opens the blinds in your home to let just the right amount of sunlight in.

* A motion sensor detects you walking out of your bedroom and signals the coffee maker to turn on and the air conditioner to go up 2 degrees.

* A camera feed of your driveway feeds to an analytic software package that determines that there is indeed a newspaper lying on your lawn and so it signals your Amazon Alexa to say “The paper has arrived”.

All of this interaction exists on a computer in your home and in the cloud (cyber). It is all integrated with sensors and motors in your home (physical). This is an example of cyber-physical system.

But the majority of these examples take place on a larger scale with more important purposes like controlling energy grids, traffic systems, and manufacturing processes.

Computers normally only get to control their display, and maybe talk to the printer.

Some systems let computers control other things. Like a factory, where a computer might control a robot with a metal cutting torch.

Lots of things which are OK in normal computer systems, like stopping while some system process runs for a few minutes, are not OK ins a cyber-physical system, where the torch robot might cut through something or set the building on fire.