Getting Started

What is a programmable logic controller (PLC)?

A programmable logic controller(PLC) is a simplified computer that does not have a screen, keyboard, and many other peripherals found in a typical PC. It is a computer-controlled industrial system that continuously monitors the state of input devices and makes decisions based upon a set of specific rules and input through a custom program to control the state of output devices.

In an industrial setting, the PLC is housed within a control panel and is connected through Ethernet or USB to a laptop or desktop computer that has a SCADA application installed and is used to program the PLC. However, depending on the inputs and outputs, a PLC can monitor and record run-time data such as machine productivity or operating temperature, automatically start and stop processes, generate alarms and alerts if a machine malfunctions, and much more. They can be found in a variety of industries and everyday products such as washing machines, HVAC systems, traffic lights, and elevators. Depending on the manufacturer, PLCs can be programmed in a variety of programming languages. For example, Ladder Diagram, Structured Text, Functional Block Diagram, Instruction List, or Sequential Function Chart.

Key components that set PLCs apart from industrial PCs, microcontrollers, and other industrial control solutions:

  • CPU: serves as the PLC's brain, performing logic and arithmetic operations and updating the inputs and outputs.

  • I/O modules: can be analog or digital and provide information to the CPU and trigger specific results. Sensors, switches, and meters are examples of input devices, while relays, lights, valves, and drives are examples of output devices.

  • Communications: in addition to input and output devices, a supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system is typically used to record data from the PLC and monitor and control multiple connected devices.

  • HMI (Human Machine Interface): To interact with the PLC in real time, users need an HMI. These operator interfaces can be simple displays with a text readout and keypad, or large touchscreen panels resembling consumer electronics, but they all allow users to review and input data to the PLC in real time.

Ultron is a NVIDIA®️ Jetson-based Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) that brings high computing power to the edge for industrial and commercial autonomous infrastructure developments and deployments. Based around NVIDIA: registered: Jetson™️ modules, Ultron allows users to run computationally complex AI workloads and process data from high-resolution sensors whether it’s to be deployed in industrial environments, at road intersections or for a home automation project.

With Ultron, we want to change the development and deployment of automation and autonomous infrastructure with a state-of-the-art compute and sensor fusion platform that goes beyond the capabilities of traditional industry-grade PLCs.