What Makes a Smart Machine Smart?


What does it take for a machine to be called smart? Being able to play chess or compose something kind of like music can make a machine look smart, but it’s just doing what it has been programmed to do.

Smart machinery has some special characteristics that set it apart from ordinary machinery.

Self awareness

This doesn’t mean that the servo motor of the future will be in touch with its feelings or at peace with its inner child. A self aware machine in the industrial sense is one that knows when it needs maintenance.

That’s different from the error codes Rexroth motion control machinery has been providing for decades now. These codes alert operators to a failure or a potential safety problem and let the operator know that  problem has already occurred. The self-aware machine will be able to alert operators to a problem that might occur in the future.


A smart machine will be able to communicate directly within a larger system. For example, an ordinary robot is programmed to take actions with specific objects. If such a robot encounters a new object, it won’t be able to change its actions to work more appropriately with that object.

A smart machine can sense a difference in the object, perhaps because of RFID coding on the object. It could then send a request to a database in the cloud and get information on how to adapt its actions to the new object, or even new actions needed for the object.


One of the biggest differences between smart machines and traditional machines is that a traditional machine can only do what it is programmed to do. It can do those tasks with impressive precision and speed, but it can’t do anything else.

Smart machines are distinguished  by machine learning. A smart trash can is able to learn to recognize the specific movements of its owner so it won’t open when its owner isn’t trying to tell it to open. A teachable robot can learn how to do specific tasks when it is trained by humans.

Smart machines won’t have human brain power, but we need to cut back on our natural tendency to project human characteristics onto our machinery. “Smart” is useful shorthand for specific machine capacity. It doesn’t mean we can expect our servos to get intellectual.

If your Rexroth servo gets cranky and doesn’t work properly, give us a call and we will take care of it so you can get back up to speed fast.

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Call (479) 422-0390 for immediate assistance

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