Mechatronics is an interdisciplinary area of engineering that combines mechanical and electrical engineering and computer science. A typical mechatronic system picks up signals from the environment, processes them to generate output signals, transforming them for example into forces, motions and actions.
It is the extension and the completion of mechanical systems with sensors and microcomputers which is the most important aspect. The fact that such a system picks up changes in its environment by sensors, and reacts to their signals using the appropriate information processing, makes it different from conventional machines.
Examples of mechatronic systems are robots, digitally controlled combustion engines, machine tools with self-adaptive tools, contact-free magnetic bearings, automated guided vehicles, etc. Typical for such a product is the high amount of system knowledge and software that is necessary for its design. Furthermore, and this is most essential, software has become an integral part of the product itself, necessary for its function and operation. It is fully justified to say software has become an actual "machine element".