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Automation and the Body: Wires and Networks vs. Nervous System

To continue our journey of relating automation and the body, we focus on the similarities of wires and networks in an automation system with the functionality of the human nervous system.

Your senses, as we discussed previously, are used to evaluate your surroundings and are constantly in use. A simple stimulus from one of your many sensing organs will cause a signal to be sent to the brain where that information is processed and an appropriate response action is generated as a result.

This can be closely compared to the inputs of an automation system, which have mechanical or technological sensors that allow for detection of its surroundings that send specific signals to the controller. Once that signal has been processed within the controller, another signal is sent to the outputs, which allow for activation and movement of a specific component of the automation system. But how does this information travel, both within the human body and an automation system?

Let’s first take a look at the human body, where the nervous system is the primary pathway where signals travel after they have been generated by your sensing organs. This complex collection of nerves and specialized cells allows for the transmission of signals between different parts of the body. Specific cells, called neurons, are located throughout the body and are essential in that they connect to other neurons and also connect to the central nervous system, which is comprised of the brain and spinal cord.

These nerves, which can be described as cylindrical bundles of fibers that start at the brain and branch out to every part of the body allow for the connection between the brain and spinal cord with your muscles and sensory organs. While the connection of these cells is not continuous, the structure of a neuron allows for the signals to be transmitted at the synapse from neuron to neuron until the signal ultimately reaches the main controller of the body, the brain. A response signal is then again sent from the brain and travels via the nervous system to allow for a specific resulting action from your body. 

The transmission of messages via the nervous system within the human body can be closely compared to the wires and networks of an automation system, which allow for the information to travel throughout an automation system.

If you would like to learn more about the similarities between the nervous system and networks and wires within an automation system, and how you can implement controllers into your research to make everyday tasks easier, visit the Automation Station portion of our Community Portal.