The contributions to this issue aim to provide robotics and, in general, the automatic control community with results of research and applications focused on the cost-effectiveness of automation systems.
Low Cost Automation or Cost Effective Automation promotes cost oriented reference architectures and development approaches that properly integrate human skill and technical solutions, includes decentralized process control strategies, addresses automation integrated with information processing, as well as automation of non-sophisticated and easily handled operations for production maintenance.
Low Cost Automation is not an oxymoron like military intelligence or jumbo shrimps. It opposes the rising cost of sophisticated automation and propagates the use of innovative and intelligent solutions at an affordable cost. The concept can be regarded as a collection of methodologies aiming at exploiting tolerance of imprecision or uncertainties to achieve tractability, robustness and, in the end, low cost solutions. Mathematically, elegant designs of automation systems are often not feasible because of neglecting real world problems, i.e. they are failure-prone and therefore often very expensive for their users.
Low Cost Automation does not mean basic or poor performance control. The design of automation systems considers their life cycle with respect to their costs. For example, machine vision, despite in some cases costly components, properly applied can reduce the overall cost. It is used to guide field robots, identifying and assembling parts, and to sort out agricultural products.