When I say “SWaP,” you might be thinking: A swap for what? What’s in the trade? SWaP, in fact, is a common term in the defense community, and it stands for size, weight, and power_—the holy grail of technical performance for defense systems. Size determines what can be loaded into the weapon system volume, which is especially important when rocket propulsion is involved—whether within the atmosphere (i.e., missiles) or in space. Weight is important regardless of the type of system we’re talking about, be it missiles or artillery or rocket launchers. Finally, power refers to the energy needed for continuous operation of the weapon; this is a major consideration for battery-operated systems, such as communication or computation modules.
What exactly is digital automation? I see it as the simplification of manual tasks that have been optimized in the digital world to a point where they require the least amount of effort to successfully do what they are required to do in the real world. We adopt digital technologies everywhere else in our lives, so it should be a natural progression to do so more fully in PCB design.