Drives and Controls Magazine
Can the ChatGPT AI bot be used to program PLCs?
Published:  06 February, 2023

A PLC expert has tested the PLC programming knowledge and capabilities of ChatGPT – the online chatbot that has attracted a huge amount of publicity since it was launched last November. Jakob Sagatowski, a PLC software engineer based in Germany, has posed a series of questions to the chatbot and recorded the results in a YouTube video.

In the video, he asks the bot to write a PID controller in Structured Text, and poses a variety of other questions including: Are Siemens PLCs better than Beckhoff PLCs? What makes a good automation engineer? and Is Structured Text better than Ladder Diagram?

Sagatowski says that he assumed that the chatbot would not be applicable to PLC programming but he describes some of the answers it gives as “excellent”, while pointing out that “there’s a lot of limitations in the system”.

The bot even tries to use ASCII characters to “draw” a ladder diagram in answer to one question.

“I didn’t think I would have so much fun doing this,” Sagatowski concludes. “I’m hooked.”

He doesn’t see the chatbot taking peoples’ jobs, but believes that it will make software developers more efficient.

Sagatowski: “I’m hooked”

ChatGPT has been developed by a US AI (artificial intelligence) research laboratory called OpenAI whose mission is “to ensure that artificial general intelligence benefits all of humanity”. Microsoft recently announced plans to invest $10bn in OpenAI as part of a funding round that values the company at $29bn.

The ChatGPT bot interacts with users in a conversational way. It uses a dialogue format that allows it to answer follow-up questions, admit mistakes, challenge incorrect premises, and reject inappropriate requests. It has proved so popular that its servers have frequently been overloaded in recent weeks – as Jakob Sagatowski discovered while making his video.

• Sagatowski has also produced videos on the recently launched Arduino PLC.

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