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Competitive pressures to produce more while spending less are pushing industrial electronics and factory automation to the forefront of technological change. A few important trends and challenges are noticeable. Robot applications are starting to penetrate such nontraditional areas as the service and entertainment industries. Advances in such fields as adaptive control are opening up new possibilities and markets in process control. Semiconductor-based gas sensors, now under development, are expected to help manufacturers both raise product quality and lower environmental pollution. Another growth area is the control of buildings and other structures against excessive vibrations-not only to improve comfort but even to prevent earthquake damage. The drive toward open-architecture controllers in manufacturing is gaining momentum. Meanwhile, neural networks have begun to capture the essence of intelligent decision-making. The challenges abound, however. In power electronics the need to improve efficiency, while keeping down cost and electromagnetic interference and other forms of environmental pollution, is forcing experts to give a high priority to such activities as improved packaging and increased integration.