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PLTW Gateway to Tech: 

Automation and Robotics

Course Description






Automation & Robotics
Students trace the history, development, and influence of automation and robotics as they learn about mechanical systems, energy transfer, machine automation, and computer control systems. Students use the VEX Robotics® platform to design, build, and program several mechanisms.


Unit 1:  What is Automation and Robotics?

Automation and robotics include computer-controlled machines used to make manufacturing more efficient, productive, and safe. Robots are also used to assist people with disabilities in hospitals to help with surgery, to deliver food, or to dispense medications. Robots are becoming popular household helpers, performing chores like vacuuming and mowing lawns.  



Unit 2: Mechanical Systems

What do a bicycle, an eggbeater, a sewing machine, a hand-cranked drill, and a workshop vice have in common? All of them use at least one mechanism to provide movement using human effort or electricity. If you took the devices apart, you would find a series of gears that redirect the applied force to accomplish a task. Gears come in all sizes like small gears in mechanical watches or very large gears in cranes that raise large sections of a bridge.



In this unit, you will be introduced to several mechanisms that change speed, torque, force, type of movement, and direction of movement. You will build mechanisms and discover how these are used.


Unit 3:  Automation Through Programming

Automated systems are used for a variety of purposes such as guiding tools and machines to manufacturing parts. These systems use a computer program to function without human guidance. Some systems use devices to sense the environment to provide feedback to change the system behavior and some just execute the program regardless of the environment. In this unit, you will have a better understanding of the components of a system and the programming needed for these components to interact.