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Embedded System-Control of Machines


Dr.VRK (W) college of Engineering and Technology,
Ranga Reddy dist, Andhra Pradesh.

VRC quarter # III/1,
ATI CAMPUS, vidyanagar,opp: SHIVAM,
Andhra Pradesh.
Ph.No: 040-27427356

Imagine you control all the systems around just by a simple gesture and the things
respond to you as if it was some magic. This could be possible with embedded systems.
The term ‘embedded systems’ is quite a complex one. Simply put, it is a
combination of hardware and software that performs the component of a larger system. A
few years ago embedded technology existed in stand alone devices such as vending
machines and copiers that did their jobs with little regards for what went on around them.
But as technology advance to connect devices to the internet and to each other, the
potential of embedded technology has increased. Home appliances, mobile phones, cars,
tiny micro chips, avionics etc.., are all using embedded technology.
High-profile embedded chips are scaleable, generate small amounts of heat, and
consume less power. These are generally preferred for their speed, accuracy and
reliability. As they are compact in size and ability to perform time-critical and task
specific operators, embedded devices find application in all segments of industrial and
commercial market places and home appliances.
In recent years,it became apparent that control systems as integral components of
larger systems, should be developed and designed concurrently with mechanics,
hydraulics, and electronics. It is important that engineers have a good understanding of
the implications of software technology embedded into traditional engineering systems.
Current machines consist of physical components providing the means and a control
system employing those means to fulfill the machine’s function. Together, they build up
the controlled machine, which can also be called an embedded system. . New innovative
applications in different areas will make embedded systems as one of the fastest
developing technology of the near future.

This paper deals with concepts and developments of embedded systems in control
of machines and gives a general overview of the basic components of control systems,
ranging from sensors to actuators.
Embedded Systems

An embedded system employs a combination of hardware & software (a

“computational engine”) to perform a specific function; is part of a larger system that
may not be a “computer”; works in a reactive and time-constrained environment.
Software is used for providing features and flexibility
Hardware = {Processors, ASICs, Memory...} is used for performance (& sometimes
The term ’embedded system’ can be used for a wide range of applications and
devices. A useful definition is not easy to formulate. Boasson mentioned one
characteristic that applies to all embedded systems: Neither the computer system without
the special environment in which it is embedded, nor the environment without the
computer system has any significance in itself.

An embedded system employs a

combination of hardware & software (a
“computational engine”) to perform a
specific function; is part of a larger
system that may not be a “computer”;
works in a reactive and time-constrained

Basics of Embedded systems

An embedded systems typically comprises the hardware, embedded RTOS,
device drivers, communication stacks and embedded application software.
Embedded hardware: The embedded hardware mainly consists of a microcontroller with
various peripheral ICs. A fixed size volatile memory such as DRAM or SRAM and non
volatile memory such as Flash or EPROM, connected to the microcontroller, are an
integral part of the device. Depending on the targeted application of the device, the
peripheral can include communication device such as serial controller, Ethernet
controller, or a wireless communication controller and other application-specific ICs
(ASICs). Many handheld devices these days also have sensors, actuators, keypads and
graphical LCD screens as user interfaces.
The only way a embedded machine control system can get information about its
surroundings, is through the use of sensors and/or sensor systems. Control signals from
the embedded control are converted into power and/or movement through Actuators.
Sensors: During the past years a shift has taken place from mechanization towards
automation. This implies the extensive use of sensors (and actuators) in order to be able
to actually control (and influence) the actions that are performed by the controlled
system.In principle the task of a sensor is fairly simple. It transforms an input signal that
usually is difficult to handle in its original form to a more manageable form. Between
input and output of the sensor a number of processes take place to obtain the desired
result, as schematically shown in Figure.
Actuators: Actuators come in many forms and shapes. They act as the ’arms and legs’ of
the machine. Actuators convert control signals into power and/or movement,as
schematically shown in Figure below. Control signals do not have to be of electrical
nature, also other kinds are possible. The power conversion can be done in a number of

The most common energy sources for actuators are:
• Compressed air, pneumatics
• Pressured oil, hydraulics
• Electricity, electro mechanics
Embedded RTOS: The concept of real-time operating system (RTOS) is inseparable
when we talk about embedded systems. All intelligent devices that perform complex
functions have an embedded operating system inside. A real-time operating system
(RTOS) is built for specific applications and guarantees response to an external event
with in a specified time constraint. This operating system is typically real time in nature,
i.e. it is capable of responding deterministically to time-critical external events.
For example, when you suddenly apply brakes for your car to avoid an accident,
the ‘intelligent gad-get’ responds immediately. Imagine the plight of a driver if there is
no response… the result is obvious.
Device drivers: The lowest-level software that acts as glue between the operating system
and the peripheral devices is called the device driver. The device driver software controls
every peripheral device that is connected to the micro controller.
Communication stacks: If the embedded device is capable of communicating to the
external world, it has a communication software stack running on the top of the operating
system. In order to connect to the Internet, the embedded device needs a TCP/IP stack.

Characteristics of Embedded systems are:

• • Small, low power, high performance
• • Compact efficient use of PCB / IC 'real-estate'
• • Maximum output for minimum size
• • High MIPS to power ratio
• • High bus bandwidth
• • Low interface bottlenecks
Customization yields lower area, power, cost...
Higher HW/software development overhead.
Design, compilers, debuggers... May result in delayed time to market!

Control System:
Control system is the section where the system senses the input by sensors and
compares with the internal reference of the system and gives the output obtained through
the actuators as shown in figure below.
Control systems implementations:
Looking at the history of controllers, we can distinguish six types of control systems:
• Black box or embedded control
• Relay-based logic control
• Single-board control (SBC)
• Programmable control (PLC)
• Computer numerical control (CNC)
• Distributed control systems (DCS)
Black box or embedded control:
Embedded control is all around us. More and more household appliances are
being designed with some form of embedded control in it. Washing machines, microwave
ovens, car radios, cellular phones, VCRs, and digital photo camera’s are just a few
examples of ordinary devices with embedded control in it. Embedded control is used in
product itself, not in the production system with which the products are manufactured.
The use of embedded control software enables product designers to design ’smarter’
products with a large portion of its functionality embedded in the software of the product.
This results in increased product flexibility and the possibility to change or add new
functionality without having to redesign the physical product. So, in a way ’the software
has become the product’.
Relay-based logic control:
Before electronic control was developed, relays (as well as pneumatic and
hydraulic components) were widely used as control elements. They serve as switching,
timing and multiplying mechanisms for input devices such as switches, push buttons,
photo-electric sensors, etc. Since the control is hard-wired, flexibility is low and
troubleshooting difficult. Today, they are less used in the actual control functions but
many control applications use relays in conjunction with the more sophisticated forms of
control for isolation and other specialized electromechanical functions.
Single-board Control (SBC):
Electronic controllers on circuit boards first appeared in the 1960s. The early ones
consisted of ’logic modules’ with lots of discrete components like transistors, capacitors,
resistors, etc. on them with which the desired control functions were implemented. Later
on, integrated circuits (LSI, VLSI) are applied. Since no moving parts are used they are
inherently more reliable than relay-based control systems. Because they are custom-
made, maintenance and repair can be a problem. Many original equipment manufacturers
still choose to design their own single-board controllers for their own unique machine
Programmable logic controller (PLC):
The need for more flexibility in control systems has led to the development of the
programmable logic controller, the PLC. In the early seventies, the automotive industry
was growing rapidly. In order to be able to react more quickly to a changing demand in
the marketplace, one had to have a more flexible, easily adaptable and expandable control
system; therefore it had to be a programmable control system. The early PLCs were
programmed in so-called ’relay ladder. Today, high level programming languages like
Pascal, C/C++ and even Java are being used to program PLC(-like) systems.
Computer Numerical Control (CNC):
Essentially, numerical control is nothing more than sending a sequence of
commands to a machine, that in turn interprets them and performs the desired movement
and machining actions. Before the introduction of NC these commands were issued
manually by pressing buttons and switches, turning handwheels, etc. The path
information is presented in numeric coordinate values (X, Y, Z), hence the name
numerical control.
Distributed Control System (DCS):
Relay-based control, SBC and PLC are widely used in the discrete production
area. The process industry is the domain of distributed control systems, where the number
of analog I/O points exceeds the number of discrete I/O points. DCSs are used where the
controlled process is continuous, has a high analog content and throughput, is distributed
across a large geographical area and where down time is very expensive.

Embedded Systems in Control of Machines

In early days, the major part of the control was built into the physical machine,
using mechanical parts. Although hardware-based control is still widely applied, major
developments take place in the field of software-based control. An increasing part of the
design process deals with the software of the control system. The development of the
microprocessor and subsequent gain in flexibility has contributed a great deal to this
Controlled machine
Current machines consist of a physical machine providing the means, and a
machine control system employing those means to fulfill the machine’s function.
Together, they build up the controlled machine, also called an embedded system. The
term embedded system is used for a wide range of applications or devices. The physical
machine can be considered to consist of three subsystems: the main structure, actuators
and sensors. The main structure physically connects the parts of the two remaining sub
systems. The machine control system sends information to the actuators and receives
information from the sensors via the I/O-interface.
The machine control system can be divided into five functional subsystems:
• Regulative control, also referred to as direct control or feedback
• Error-handling control, also referred to as fault detection and isolation (FDI) or
• Supervisory control also referred to as logic control.
• The data processing subsystem stores and manipulates gathered data.
• The user interface subsystem allows the user to interact with the machine-control
The machine control system can also be regarded as a layered control system, as
shown in Figure. The bottom layer interacts directly with the actuators and sensors, that
is, the physical machine. Some components are controlled directly (for instance,
pneumatic components).Some components are controlled by regulative control (for
instance, motorized manipulators) or by both regulative and error-handling control
subsystem (for instance, robot arms). Some components are controlled by an error-
handling subsystem only (for instance, warning lamps or safety locks). The intermediate
layer is involved in scheduling, coordinating control of individual machine components,
gathering and processing data, monitoring and compensating possible machine failures,
and providing the top layer with the required information on the machine status. The top
layer allows the user to interact with and to monitor the machine.
Machine control is closely related to manufacturing control. The goal of machine control
is to perform certain manufacturing functions in a controlled manner. Machine control
enables us to influence production means in such a way that the manufacturing process
produces the desired products of the correct quality at the planned time in the required
Over the years, a lot of developments have taken place in production methods,
machine design and machine control design. Not surprisingly, they all influence each
other. In the route from manual work to automation we can distinguish five phases of
mechanization or automation. The meaning of the term ’phase of mechanization’ is the
extent to which a machine or production system can function independently, without
human intervention.
• Manual labour with tools
• Specific machines
• Universal machines
• Multiple link specific machines
• Multiple specific Intelligent control
In universal machines, control is embedded in the machine itself, through the use
of mechanical parts like eccentrics, cams, camshafts, springs, gearboxes, drive axis, etc.
The result depends less on the quality of the worker and more on the quality of the
machine. To avoid unnecessary delays, attention has to be paid to operating procedures,
work preparation, material handling and tool preparation.
An example of an embedded control system: Dryer
Different sub systems in the dryer are –
Main structure: The motor
Sensors : Temperature sensor, humidity sensor
Actuators : Motor driver control, fan control
Machine control system : SAB-C504

Examples: Consumer electronics: e.g., cameras, camcorders ....

Consumer products: e.g., washers, microwave ovens ...
Automobiles (anti-lock braking, engine control ...)
Industrial process controllers & avionics/defense applications
Computer/Communication products: e.g., printers, FAX machines ...
Emerging multimedia applications & consumer electronics: e.g., cellular phones,
personal digital assistants, videoconferencing servers, interactive game boxes, TV set-top
Multimedia: Increasing computational demands, and increased reliance on VLSI,
HW/SW integration.
Embedded software can support such applications as the Internet, e-mail and MP3
decoders etc. They also support sophisticated graphical user interface screens.
Road side ahead:
•  The impact of telematics would be really innovative. With access
to e-mail the internet, and telephone services, car occupants could shop
and bank online, receive traffic and navigation information, and avail of
remote diagnostics facilities
Automotive electronics:
•  Remember the talking car in the serial knight rider, a fully
computerized car capable of doing almost everything a car lover would
want to. Seems like a fantasy but the day is not far when almost all
automobiles would interact with computers on dash- boards. From
ordering a pizza to booking tickets at the nearest theaters, things would be
as easy as giving orders to your servant. Whole of which would be
possible with embedded systems.
•  Mistral software is in the process of developing text to speech and
speech reorganization technologies to give the car occupants the ultimate
comfort. Whenever there’s a call on your mobile, you need not get jumpy
at the very onset of the call. The computer in the cars dashboard would do
the job for you. GPS navigation guides you safely through the traffic. The
GPS interface in the car pinpoints your exact location on a map. In case
GPS signal can’t be received due to high density of tall buildings or other
magnetic interface, the ‘dead reckoning’ technique, which works for short
durations, guides you effectively. The system is also loaded with
GSM/CDMA protocol standards.
Biomedical solutions:
•  The biomedical chord developed by mistral is a centrelised patient
monitering system that allows remote monitering of up to 32 patients at a
given time through a central computer. It can process of maximum of 32
channels usin the state-of-the-art DSP in a PC environment.
•  The world of embedded systems is a dreamer’s paradise with
unlimited possibilities. According to the global market size for embedded
software development alone was $7 billion in 2001, which is expected to
reach $20 billion in 2003 and $31 billion by 2005.For India are $400
million. $750 million and $1.1 billion respectively. In India R&D in
embedded system was worth $1.1 billion in 2001, which would grow to $8
billion by 2008.

Further more, embedded systems are rapidly becoming a catalyst for change in
the in the computing, data communications, telecommunications, industrial control and
entertainment sectors. New innovative applications in these as well as other areas will
make embedded systems as one of the fastest developing technology of the near future.


  J. Albus, A.Barbera, and R. Nigel. Theory and practice of hierarchical

  M. Boasson. Embedded systems.
 
  Simon Embedded systems.