soft automation[′sȯft ‚ȯd·ə′mā·shən]
Automatic control, chiefly through the use of computer processing, with relatively little reliance on computer hardware.
hard automationA non-programmable robotic system. Hard automation systems must be physically altered to change their function but often yield the fastest operation.
Soft automation robots are programmable, and changes can be made in the computer. Soft automation robots tend to be slower than hard automation devices.
More costly than hard or soft automation, flexible automation robots often have interchangeable parts, and they can operate at low or high speeds. Flexible automation is suited for robots that must be routinely changed for different operations. See robot.