ROS-Industrial Migration to Discourse

Today, February 14th, we notified the ROS-I users Google Group, about an upcoming transition to Discourse on March 1. I have included the letter below that was provided to the Google Group members. We are excited to be part of the ecosystem over at Discourse and hope that it drives improved collaboration, synergy, and interaction with the broader ROS Community.

We look forward to this transition, but of course with any change, there can be problems. Please feel free to comment below, or reach out directly if you have questions and/or concerns.

Discourse.JPG

“In recent years there has been a migration, related to ROS/ROS-related discussions, Q&A, and collaboration to ROS Discourse (discourse.ros.org). At ROS-Industrial we see this year as the time to move over to Discourse as well, and retire the ROS-I Google Group, swri-ros-pkg-dev. This obviously does not come without some consideration and a migration plan. The target date for the transition is March 1. The content that is currently within the forum over at the Google Group will be kept available for reference, as read-only, and inquiries to swri-ros-pkg will be met with an automatic reply to direct inquiries to the ROS-Industrial Discourse category.

For users the move to Discourse should be quite convenient and efficient. Accounts from GitHub, or Google, may be used, so no new accounts will be needed in those cases.

We hope that this change is welcomed as it drives synergy with the broader ROS community, and allows for a true “one stop” in discussion and collaboration on all things ROS. To start there will be an ‘ROS-Industrial’ category, with subcategories developed when traffic merits the creation of subcategories.

We would like to thank our friends over at Open Robotics for helping us out with this change.”

Announcing ROS#

This is a guest blog post by Martin Bischoff on behalf of his employer Siemens AG. Thanks to Martin for the update, and to Siemens for its generous support to the ROS-Industrial Consortium!


We are happy to announce that we published ROS# on github.com/siemens/ros-sharp!

RosSharpLogo.png
 

...is a set of software libraries and tools in C# for communicating with ROS from .NET applications, in particular Unity.

ROS# consists of:

  • RosBridgeClient, a .NET API to ROS using rosbridge_suite on the ROS side.
  • UrdfImporter, a URDF file parser for .NET applications.
  • RosSharp.unitypackage, a Unity Asset package providing Unity-specific extensions to RosBridgeClient and UrdfImporter.

ROS# helps you to:

  • Communicate with ROS from within your Windows app: subscribe and publish topics, call and advertize services, set and get parameters and use all features provided by rosbridge_suite.
 
CodeExample.png
 
  • Import your robot's URDF model as a Gameobject in Unity3D. Import the data either directly from the ROS system using the robot_description service or via a URDF file that you copied into your Unity Asset folder.

(click on the images for videos)

 
 
  • Control your real Robot via Unity3D.
 
 
  • Visualize your Robot's actual state and sensor Data in Unity3D.
 
 
  • Simulate your robot in Unity3D with the data provided by the URDF and without using a connection to ROS. Beside visual components as meshes and textures, also Joint parameters and masses, CoMs, Inertia and Collider specifications of Rigidbodies are imported.
 
 
  • And much more! ROS# is useful for a wide variety of applications. Think about Machine Learning, Human-Machine Interaction, Tele-Engineering, Virtual Prototyping, Robot Fleet Operation, Gaming and Entertainment!

Got Interested?

Please do not hesitate to try it out yourself and to get in touch with us! We are very interested in your feedback, applications, improvement suggestions, and contributions!

ROS# Development Team (ros-sharp.ct@siemens.com), Siemens AG, Corporate Technology, 2017

Intelligent Part Reconstruction

It has long been a challenge in industry to image, or leverage non-contact sensors, to generate reconstructions of highly spectral or featureless surfaces. Shiny parts, dark surfaces, occlusion, and limited resolution all corrupt single-shot scanning for first-look robotic solution imaging or scanning systems. A whole new class of applications can be efficiently addressed if there were an efficient way to reconstruct surfaces to enable reliable trajectories for subsequent processing.

In the context of autonomous processing of parts, the mesh is the “stitching” together of points generated by a 3D depth camera that creates a “point cloud.” Algorithms are then applied to derive surfaces from the point cloud, as well as edges, and even detect “engineered features,” such as drilled holes. The process deteriorates when there is a lack of “points” returned to the sensor (i.e. sparse data). Smooth surfaces also make it difficult to “stitch” images together or organize points in a way that enables mesh creation. As in the example below, there is insufficient data to create the mesh over the full scanned surface. There are techniques to mitigate this phenomenon, such as “flat” coating surfaces, but these can be cumbersome, costly, and inefficient.

Spectral Sample Part.JPG

In recent years, academic research in the field of on-line surface reconstruction has built on the Truncated Signed Distance Field (TSDF). The Kinect Fusion TSDF technique pioneered by Microsoft Research involves probabilistically fusing many organized depth images from 3D cameras into a voxelized distance field, to estimate an average, implicit surface. The scanner is manipulated by hand, and each image’s pose is registered relative to the previous images by way of the Iterative Closest Point (ICP) algorithm. While this technique shows promise in fusing partial observations of difficult to scan objects, it suffers from the practical constraint that it must scan very quickly to accurately estimate scanner motion, and the surface being scanned must have sufficient features to enable tracking.

The TSDF-based reconstruction process only produces good results if the sensor gets good views of as much of the surface as possible. This is a fairly intuitive task for a human, since we can look at the partially-reconstructed surface, recognize which areas are incomplete, and move the camera to compensate.

It’s much more difficult for a robot to make these decisions. One way to approach this problem is to track which areas around the surface have and haven’t been seen by the camera. The robot can take an initial measurement, see which areas haven’t been viewed, and pick a new view that looks at these unknown regions. This lets the robot discover that it doesn’t have information about the back side of a wall and decide that it needs to move the camera to the opposite side of the work area to look at the obscured surface.

In this implementation, views around the volume are randomly generated within a range of angles and distances. Rays are cast corresponding to the camera’s field of view from each pose and count how many of these rays hit unknown voxels. The next best view is the one that hits the most unknowns, and the robot tries to move to this view to explore more of the part.

NBV.JPG

The results have been very promising. The performance of the combination of TSDF + Next Best View (NBV) within this work have resolved a number of the issues encountered in a prior Robotic Blending Focused Technical Project (FTP). The first of two primary metrics was: mesh completeness, where a complete part was created, where before insufficient returns left “holes” in the data. An example of a before-and-after can be seen below.

Al Bracket.JPG

The second metric: to generate trajectories within the compliance of the tool leveraged in the robotic blending work. In this case, that was approximately 2 cm. You can see in the video on this aluminum sample that the tool follows the arc and does not bottom out, or lift off of the part. While somewhat qualitative, operating within this compliance range was impossible before the development of this TSDF + NBV implementation.

Future work seeks to refine this tool set into a more cohesive set of packages that can then be contributed to the ROS-Industrial community. In the meantime, further testing to understand the limitations of the current implementation, and subsequent performance improvements, are slated in conjunction with other process development initiatives.

Check back here for more information and/or updates, or feel free to inquire directly about this capability: matt.robinson <at> swri.org.

A brief report from the ROS-Industrial Conference 2017

The ROS-Industrial Conference 2017 was held last week, and once again it grew bigger compared to the previous year’s edition. It expanded to a three-days event, with 28 talks attended by more than 110 participants from both industry and applied research organizations. The talks covered a wide range of topics including technical aspects of open-source robotics, as well as non-technical ones like community dynamics and business viability, application-oriented aspects and future challenges for open-source robotics, like safety and security. Here follows a selection from some of the topics and the side events covered during the conference.

Matt Robinson, Program Manager for the ROS-Industrial Consortium Americas, described how ROS-Industrial has provided large players in manufacturing, who have struggled introducing automation, with an opportunity to introduce agility to manufacturing operations, hence improving utilization of resources and a broader impact on the overall value stream. Martin Hägele, head of department robot and assistive systems at Fraunhofer IPA, gave an overview about ongoing developments in the global robotics market. He addressed both industrial and service robots and presented data which the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) collects and publishes annually in the “World Robotics Report.” Jaime Martin Losa, CEO of eProsima, showed how Micro-ROS bridges the technological gap between the established robotic software platforms on high-performance computational devices and low-level libraries for microcontrollers. The first day ended with guided tours the Robotics Lab, the Application Center Industry 4.0 and the “Milestones of Robotics” exhibition at Fraunhofer IPA.

Min Ling Chan reported on how the ROS-Industrial Consortium in Asia Pacific is setting its objective and strategy towards understanding the industry needs in this region. Dirk Thomas from the Open Source Robotics Foundation introduced the forthcoming ROS2 which will provide notable advantages over ROS1, such as support for multiple operating systems and for DDS rather than a custom built middleware. Torsten Kröger, former Head of the Robotics Software Division at Google and now professor at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), showed examples and use-cases of manipulation and human-robot interaction tasks in order to provide a comprehensible insight into deterministic robot motion planning for safety-critical robot applications. As part of the ROSIN project Yvonne Dittrich, professor at University of Copenhagen, investigates how the ROS community takes care of quality and presented her preliminary findings. After some demonstrations of ROS-native hardware and installations the second conference day closed with a stroll through the Stuttgart Christmas market and the social dinner.

Felipe Garcia Lopez, researcher at Fraunhofer IPA, gave insights into the Cloud Navigation he developed for mobile robots in intralogistics applications. Communication via cloud between mobile systems operating in the same traffic area enables efficient interaction without idle times even with dynamic obstacles present. Finally, Kimberly Hambuchen, Principal Technologist for Robotics in NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD), and Martin Azkarate from the European Space Agency (ESA) showed which requirements on software frameworks for space robotics currently exist and presented information on how NASA is using ROS for robotic prototypes for future space exploration missions.

As the event was sold out a week before the event started, we plan on hosting it on a bigger scale next year, while still targeting an early December timeframe. For your reference, the detailed agenda of the whole event as well as all slides from the speakers can be found here.

NIST grant helping enhance ROS-Industrial interoperability with MTConnect

A program to integrate ROS-Industrial with the machine tool platform MTConnect is getting a boost from a grant through the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

The recent grant builds on a 2013 prototype application developed by a team of companies led by the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM).

That effort resulted in a successful application demonstration with testing by NIST manufacturing researchers, providing the framework for a “generic bridge” to break down the well-documented language barrier in factories. In effect, the work to date, and moving forward is simply a translator that converts data and messages written in two languages—one popularized in the robotics open-source and research community, ROS/ROS-Industrial, and the other by the builders of machine tools, MTConnect—into a form that both can leverage.

www.MTConnect.org | www.rosindustrial.org The system design used in the demonstration enabled peer to peer communications between the robot and the machine tool utilizing MTConnect and ROS-Industrial. Sponsored by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and managed by the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining, partnering with System Insights, Southwest Research Institute and AMT - The Association For Manufacturing Technology.

This work set the foundation for the new NIST grant and an alliance between Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), the Association of Manufacturing Technology (AMT), and System Insights. The initial project demonstrated the ability to implement ROS-Industrial to program a robot and use MTConnect protocol for communications between the robot and a CNC machine tool. Similar to the previous effort, this new initiative is primarily software-based and will use the open standard application level protocol, MTConnect, and open-source ROS-Industrial to enable facility-level interoperability between robot teams and machine-cell devices, facilitating a “many-to-many” relationship. The expansion of the ROS-I/MTConnect solution further enhances the viability of using industry-supported, open-source software for smart manufacturing applications. Open-source software permits a continuation of free development over a very large development workspace that ultimately solves complex problems where the solution is free to the end user. The output from this project is intended to be an enabler for industry-wide adoption of open-source technologies by providing a use-case and testbed showcasing lower cost solutions for comprehensive factory floor integration for small- and medium-sized manufacturers.

Prototype Demonstration Cell

Prototype Demonstration Cell

A test-bed will be developed with an eventual demonstration to be unveiled at IMTS, within the Emerging Technology Center, in the fall of 2018 in Chicago. This will highlight a lean implementation, leveraging the latest software developments by the team, and highlight the advantages of the many-to-many approach, leveraging open-standard and open-source tools. This also extends the open standards/common communication paradigm of supporting work cells that have historically been a single stationary device, to multiple interconnected devices, and potentially swarms of devices in the mobile/dynamic environment of the future.

Successful ROS-I Kinetic Training October 2017

Another ROS-Industrial Developer Class took place on October 10th at the Caterpillar Visitor’s Center in Peoria, IL. It consisted of a three-day program that provided basic and advanced track offerings.

Day 1’s basic track covered several key ROS concepts such as messages, services, and nodes. At the end of each section students were given lab exercises allowing them to incrementally build a ROS application. The advanced track focused on building a perception pipeline from the ground up using the Point Cloud Library to process 3D sensor data.

Day 2 delved into creating a robot model using URDF and Xacro files and doing intelligent motion planning using MoveIt! Furthermore, this class also included a section on process path planning using the Descartes Planning Library.

On Day 3, students were given three lab programming exercises where they had the opportunity to create applications that combined perception and robot motion-planning concepts covered in the course. Two UR5 robots were made available so students could run their completed ROS applications on real hardware.

The attendees were from various organizations, including Caterpillar, Boeing, ABB, IDEXX Laboratories, Magna, and Tormach. We extend our thanks to all of them for attending and for their positive feedback. The class curriculum can be found here.

THE FULL CLASS WITH SWRI ROS-INDUSTRIAL SUPPORT STAFF INCLUDED

THE FULL CLASS WITH SWRI ROS-INDUSTRIAL SUPPORT STAFF INCLUDED

Call for participation: ROS-Industrial Conference 2017 (Dec 12-14, Stuttgart - Germany)

Five years after the very first public event entirely devoted to discussing the potential benefits of a shared, open-source framework for industrial robotics and automation, Fraunhofer IPA will host the 2017 edition of the ROS-Industrial Conference in Stuttgart, Germany, on December 12 to 14. From its inception five years ago, the initiative went from proof of concepts developed by a few organizations envisioning to advance manufacturing through open source, to:

  • a worldwide initiative, with three regional consortia financially backed by more than 50 organizations
  • a growing collection of software packages, expanding the capabilities and the platform support of ROS
  • a number of installations of ROS-powered equipment working in production within industrial environments

We are pleased to invite you to join us in Stuttgart to reflect on those past 5 years, gauge the current status of the initiative through tech talks and application examples, and hear from the experts about the next obstacles to overcome for open-source robotics. You are welcome to browse the updated schedule of the event, as well as to preregister (the event is sold out and the waiting list is full!)

From left to right, a selection of the demos, talks and tours offered to the attendees of the event: Drag&bot; Cloud navigation; Robot lab (ground floor) and "Milestones of Robotics" museum (mezzanine) - images copyright Fraunhofer IPA

ROS-Industrial ROSCon 2017 Highlights

ROSCon 2017 was recently held in Vancouver, Canada, and has become a marquee event for all things ROS over the years. Hosted by OSRF, this event is a key place to hear the latest developments within the ROS community, while enabling richer networking and collaboration related to robotics, path planning and, really, any area where ROS can be leveraged, be it in industry, hobbies, education, humanitarian services, or life sciences.

20170921_092017.jpg

This was also one of the rare times where ROS-Industrial’s global team was able to get together face-to-face, both as ROSConn participants, and also to collaborate and set forth plans relative to the future of ROS-Industrial. Fraunhofer IPA supported the booth and the sponsorship for ROS-Industrial for this event. The booth was well-trafficked, and each Consortium— Americas, Europe, and Asia-Pacific— contributed to making the booth a success, including a Scan-N-Plan demonstration on a UR3.

Robotic Blending UR3 Demonstration

Robotic Blending UR3 Demonstration

The ROS-I team supported three different talks. Gijs van der Hoorn supported the talk “How ROS Cares for Quality,” which is part of the EU2020 project ROSIN. Levi Armstrong presented “Robotic Path Planning for Geometry-Constrained Processes” and, finally, Mirko Bordignon, Min Ling Chan, and Matt Robinson presented an update on the ROS-Industrial Consortium and its success at leveraging private and public funding.

ROS-I members left to right: Joseph Polden, ARTC-A*Star; Levi Armstrong, SwRI; Matt Robinson, SwRI; Min Ling Chan, ARTC-A*Star; Gijs van der Hoorn, TU Delft; and Mirko Bordignon, Fraunofer IPA.

ROS-I members left to right: Joseph Polden, ARTC-A*Star; Levi Armstrong, SwRI; Matt Robinson, SwRI; Min Ling Chan, ARTC-A*Star; Gijs van der Hoorn, TU Delft; and Mirko Bordignon, Fraunofer IPA.

ROS-I members left to right: Name, company; Levi Armstrong, SwRI; Matt Robinson, SwRI; Min Ling Chan, ARTC-A*Star; Gijs van der Hoorn, TU Delft; and Mirko Bordignon, Fraunofer IPA.

20170921_192902.jpg

ROS Developments

ROSCon provides a pulse for the trends shaping the ROS development community in coming months and years. There was a lot of buzz about ROS2 with presentations on related middleware, components, and novel applications. Some ROS-Industrial team members who attended the event provided observations on this and other topics of interest.

Levi Armstrong, SwRI ROS-I Technical Lead: There was a lot of interest in ROS2, which we have not used on the projects we have developed historically. However, I do think it would be good to begin doing some work with ROS2, mainly to advance capabilities for our clients and open the door to new areas of work. There are opportunities to weave in the ROS2 work for a new driver for the Motoman running a ROS2 node directly on the controller.

Matt Robinson, SwRI ROS-I Consortium Americas Program Manager:

  1. We heard sincere and significant interest from the start-up community in ROS-Industrial and understanding how to engage the Consortium. There was particular interest in a vehicle or means to join the Consortium with less of an up-front cash consideration for start-ups.In parallel, there is an expectation or desire for a more "industrial" feel relative to documentation and response to issues/requests.
  2. We also heard increased interest in Smart Factory/Industry 4.0-type applications requiring movement of information from engineering and order-to-delivery systems to have systems "take action" or to enable dynamic optimization.
  3. Regarding the significant activity in ROS2, it will be meaningful for ROS-I teams to consider test cases, or pilots and actively engage in ROS2.

Gijs van der Hoorn, TU Delft ROS-Industrial Project Manager:

  1. ROSCon underscored the importance of accelerating our work with ROS2, both technically and with policy/roadmap/planning.
  2. People still struggle to understand what is “industrial” about ROS-I and,by extension, why they should be interested in ROS-I.
  3. The ROS community has -- even more than in previous years -- become a consumer-first community; the number of (structural) contributors is very, very low. And even though there are quite a few companies that use ROS, their contributions to the community are limited. Even for larger entities, they really only touch what they directly need, at that instant, for their own purposes. There needs to be a means to encourage and develop the companies that drive the excitement around ROS & ROS-I to demonstrate the value of being a proper community member.

The ROS-Industrial team also held a working leadership group session the following day. Topics covered for growth are the means to encourage effective community engagement and contribution, particularly among OEMs. For functionality to really take off and meet the needs of ROS-I stakeholders, OEM support and engagement is critical. Finally, ROS2 and broader industrial hardware integration and strategy was discussed. Migration of communication tools such as the retiring of the ROS-I/SwRI Google group was also settled with a migration to Discourse slated for January 2018. Follow-on communications are in the works relative to the output of this meeting and follow-on working sessions to continue to improve ROS-I and the vision supporting its growth.

ROSCon was a valuable opportunity to learn about the community that makes ROS unique, the startups that are innovating in the commercial marketplace, the leadership of OSRF, and other ROS stakeholders seeking to continue the upward trajectory that the robotics community is already on, and we are excited that ROS-I has become a key part of that.

ROS Additive Manufacturing

The ROS Additive Manufacturing (RAM) project is a set of ROS packages that enables automatic generation of trajectories for additive manufacturing. It has been designed for metallic additive manufacturing with industrial robots. This project is open-source and under the BSD license.

Starting with a YAML file representing a 2D polygon or a 3D mesh, the goal is to obtain a trajectory and construct a 3D part with a robot. The user provides input files and some parameters, then generate the trajectory. The user is then able to modify the trajectory within a GUI if needed. Finally the user can obtain a robot program (specific to a brand) via a post processor (the post processor is not included in the project).

MOTIVE

There are many software products available to generate trajectories for 3-D printing. Most of them are designed for plastic and resin 3-D printing (FDM, SLS etc.) with Cartesian machines. The algorithms usually have an "infill" parameter that allows the user to choose how much material should be put inside of the "shells" (the exterior of the 3D volume). This is very handy to produce lightweight parts, but when set to 100%, the parts are not completely filled and some holes (porosities) remain.

With 3-D metallic printing, parts are very often expected to be fully filled with material and the tolerance for porosities is very low. This constraint does not allow us to use conventional 3-D printing software and led us to create our own solution. Depending on the process (powder projection, wire) there can be other requirements. For example processes using wire are not simple to stop and start, having a continuous trajectory becomes mandatory to ensure deposition quality.

This is why we decided to create a very flexible software solution, providing a clean and modern approach to 3-D printing.

SOFTWARE ARCHITECTURE

The project is split in modules, each of them has a specific functionality, the main modules are:

  • Path planning: Automatically generates a trajectory given an input file and some parameters (layer height, etc.)
  • Display: Publishes the trajectory in RViz so that it can be visualized and features different visualization modes
  • Modify trajectory: Allows for trajectory modification by selecting poses and tweaking them (geometry, parameters)

This modular approach easily allows for adding, removing or modifying functionalities inside the software. The software can be used through a Qt GUI based on RViz and is designed to be easy to use for a non programmer.

Star.jpg

CURRENT STATE

The application is working and easy to compile, code quality is ensured by Continuous Integration including Unit Tests.

There are some missing functionalities, for example:

  • Entry/exit trajectories (will be added before the end of September)
  • Trajectory simulation (will be added soon)
  • Post processor (most likely won't be included in the project because it is too robot specific)
  • Ability to generate trajectories with process stop/start: sometimes the part cannot be constructed without stopping and starting the process again
  • Allow to generate trajectories with diagonal layers

The software is already able to generate complex trajectories:

Complex Stack.jpg
trivet.jpg

FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS

In the future, we would like to be able to generate trajectories for 3D printing when the initial surface is not flat. This implies creating a specific algorithm.

We also need to write some documentation and a user guide for the software.

CONCLUSION

You can find more information on the official [ROS Additive manufacturing](http://wiki.ros.org/ros_additive_manufacturing) wiki webpage.
Digests of the advancement are frequently posted on [the SwRI mailing list](https://groups.google.com/forum/#!searchin/swri-ros-pkg-dev/additive%7Csort:relevance/swri-ros-pkg-dev/Bd7weRLIrpU/Wk-aCsGiAQAJ); please post your questions about the project here!

You can contribute to this project by reporting issues, writing documentation or opening merge request to fix bugs, improve/add functionalities.

Authored by Victor Lamoine, Institut Maupertuis, France, on GitHub at https://gitlab.com/InstitutMaupertuis/

 

Robotic Blending Milestone 4 Technology Demonstration at Wolf Robotics

The Robotic Blending project is the first open source instantiation of what will become a general Scan-N-PlanTM framework (Figure 1). The project has been making steady progress over the past two and a half years.

Figure 1. Execution of surface blending of a complex contour part on Wolf Robotics Demonstration Hardware in Fort Collins, CO.

Figure 1. Execution of surface blending of a complex contour part on Wolf Robotics Demonstration Hardware in Fort Collins, CO.

Starting in earnest at the beginning of 2017, Milestone 4 (M4) sought to further the functionality of the technology to incorporate functionality that was of interest to the participating members. These members, 3M, Caterpillar, GKN Aerospace, Wolf Robotics, and the SwRI development team set forth to realize a set of objectives:

  • Closed-loop inspection and retouch: Integrating the process planning and quality assurance steps so that parts are finished with a closed, sensor-driven loop.
  • More Robust Surface Segmentation: Improving the surface segmentation and planning algorithms to accommodate more complex surfaces found on real parts (continuous surfaces with radius of curvature above a 50 mm threshold, as seen in Figure 1 above)
  • Blending Process Refinement: Improving the quality of the blending process to produce surface finishes that meet engineering requirements.
  • Edge Processing: Processing/chamfering simple 2.5D edges that occur where two surfaces meet.
  • Technology Transfer: Meetings, demonstrations, and sponsor sites to support knowledge sharing among project participants and performers.
  • Integration and Testing: Demonstration support.

The intent of the demonstration was to review the capability as-developed relative to the processing of provided Caterpillar production parts. Performance was tracked to a provided success criteria that tied to performance metrics that were relevant to the target application.

All parts presented were able to be perceived, meshed, and discrete parts for processing selected. There were difficulties with GUI interaction relative to selection, but these were considered minor.

Paths were generated for every part presented that included blending surface paths as well as the edge paths. Every path that was generated was simulated without issue.

Execution of the blending paths was performed on 100% of presented parts, and a subset of parts for edge processing. There were observed challenges due to the scale of the tools and media relative to the edge and execution of the paths without having issues with either collision or losing contact with the part. This is simply a need for finer calibration techniques for these particular hardware configurations.

Quality assurance (QA) paths were generated and simulated in all cases. False positives were prevalent and related to scatter/reflectivity, particularly for aggressive media combined with edges/corners on the parts. This is a common issue for laser-based sensors and spectral (shiny) surfaces, particularly along edges. Root cause was identified in detailed views of the scan data showing the scatter that exceeds the acceptance criteria of 0.5 mm.

For cases where slag was present to be identified the QA algorithm identified the slag and subsequent path plans were generated, displayed, and able to be simulated and executed, see Figure 2. In cases where there was no remaining slag and the finish was not high spectral the QA passed the part.

Figure 2. Processed Part and Resultant QA that highlights non-compliant regions for re-processing

Figure 2. Processed Part and Resultant QA that highlights non-compliant regions for re-processing

Overall, the demonstration was considered a success, and follow on work is in the proposal development phase. The next steps for the team: First, consider establishing two test-sites where follow on development and testing can be performed.  Second, evaluate functionality around these elements: work flow, path planning relative to perceived and characterized anomaly or feature, human mark/indication and plan, process refinement considering PushCorp functionality and 3M media, and finally Digital Twin elements to enable consistent performance between the two sites.

Additional information and videos highlighting the current capability will be available soon!

Latest updates to the packages can be found here: https://github.com/ros-industrial-consortium

Special thanks to the Robotic Blending M4 team members:

Schoen Schuknecht – 3M

JD Haas – 3M

Leon Adcock – Caterpillar

Prem Chidambaram – Caterpillar

Wajahat Afsar - Caterpillar

Chris Allison – GKN Aerospace

Richard Cheng – GKN Aerospace

Mike McMillen – PushCorp

Jonathan Meyer – SwRI

Austin Deric - SwRI

Alex Goins - SwRI

Lance Guyman – Wolf Robotics

Jason Flamm – Wolf Robotics

Zach Bennett – Wolf Robotics

Nephan Dawson – Wolf Robotics

The first ROS-Industrial Developer's training in Singapore - A Success!

The ROS-Industrial Asia Pacific Consortium has launched it's first developer's training in Singapore. The training was sold out during the week before the training was kick-started.

To be conducted annually or on request by companies, it consist of 3 days of training presentations, lab exercises and eventually testing your code on a robot. In the case here we were using a UR5 to test the participant's code.

The success lies in the feedback and the creative energy from the participants to ensure that they continue to develop in ROS and use it for their applications.

The 1-Day advanced training in Path Planning and Perception is new this year by ROS-Industrial and with the help of Levi Armstrong, SwRI (ROS-Industrial Americas) we were able to roll this out in Singapore. The additional advanced training allowed participants to delve into the key concepts for path planning and perception.

ROS-Industrial developer's training calss

ROS-Industrial developer's training calss

ROS-I Developer's Basic Training-Singapore Aug2017

Many thanks to trainer Levi Armstrong for travelling to Singapore to perform this training. Thanks to our ROS-Industrial AP Consortium developers Joseph Polden and Conghui Liang for their help as training assistants.. The training curriculum is open-source and available here.

For more details about this class, see the event page.

If you are interested in attending the next class in October, keep an eye on this event page.

Final in series on ROS-I development process – Publishing & Installation

ROS-Development-BlogPost-01-ARTC Update.png

This is the last post in a series detailing the ROS-Industrial software development process. We will discuss publishing and installing software. The first post described the process of contributing code to a project (item 1-3 in the figure above). The second post described the process of Continuous Integration, Pull Request (PR) peer review , and the release of a given repositories packages by the maintainer (item 4-7). Note that the starred numbers in the software development process illustrated above correspond to the outline below.

  1. The publishing of the released packages (item 8) is managed by OSRF and is not on a set schedule. This usually happens when all packages for a given distro are built successfully and stable. The current status for the distro kinetic can be found here . Navigating to other distros can be done by changing the distro name in the link.
  2. Once the package has been published, it is available to be installed by the developer (item 9).
  3. After the install of a new version, the developer may have questions, experience issues or it may not have the necessary functionality which should all be reported on the packages GitHub repository as an issue (item 10). If an issue is identified or there is missing functionality that the developer requires, the cycle starts back at (item 2).
The full series has been compiled and is now located on ROS-Industrial website here

Successful ROS-I Kinetic Training Class - Curriculum Available

The ROS-Industrial Consortium Americas hosted a ROS-Industrial Developers Training Class June 6-8, 2017, at SwRI in San Antonio, Texas. Twelve attendees represented a diverse set of organizations, including Bastian Solutions, EWI, John Deere, PlusOne Robotics, Magna International, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, The University of Texas at Austin, and Yaskawa America’s Motoman Robotics Division. The three-day class was geared toward individuals with a C++ programming background who sought to learn to compose their own ROS nodes.

  • Day 1 focused on introductory ROS skills.
  • Day 2 examined motion planning using MoveIt! as well as using the Descartes planner and perception concepts.
  • Day 3 included an introduction to perception and culminated with lab programming exercises with a choice of Pick-and-Place Application or Descartes Application.

Many thanks to training class leaders Jeremy Zoss and Austin Deric. The training curriculum is open-source and available here.

For more details about this class, see the event page.

If you are interested in attending the next class in October, keep an eye on this event page.

THE FULL CLASS WITH SWRI ROS-INDUSTRIAL SUPPORT STAFF INCLUDED

THE FULL CLASS WITH SWRI ROS-INDUSTRIAL SUPPORT STAFF INCLUDED

Recap: Expanding Horizons: ROS-Industrial Asia Pacific Workshop 2017 - Singapore

The ROS-Industrial Asia Pacific Consortium (ROS-I Asia Pacific) hosted its annual workshop May 25-26 in Singapore. International, regional and local speakers discussed the importance of ROS and its capabilities. The event took place one week before the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA 2017), also in Singapore.

 

More than 80 participants enjoyed the two-day ROS-I Asia Pacific event, which featured exciting presentations and demonstrations of ROS-Industrial uses and product success stories. Key speakers from Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), Open Robotics, and Fraunhofer IPA presented the progress over the past year since ROS-I Asia Pacific was formed through a memorandum of understanding between SwRI, the Singapore-based Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre (ARTC) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

dr. David low (ARTC CEO) kicked off the workshop.

dr. David low (ARTC CEO) kicked off the workshop.

Tully Foote (Open Robotics) presented on going developments with ROS and ROS2.

Tully Foote (Open Robotics) presented on going developments with ROS and ROS2.

The workshop highlighted various industries using ROS and ROS-Industrial to support their robotic software needs. Examples included Robonaut 2 on the International Space Centre (NASA), GUI interfacing with HiWIN (PPM AS), Food handling (Blue WorkForce Robotics) and other manufacturing topics.

Many presented ROS and ROS-Industrial applications and uses in their own products. Sponsored by ABB, guests were treated to an abundance of networking opportunities during tea and lunch breaks.

Dr. Kimberly hambuchen (NASA JSC) presented ROS use in NASA at Johnson space centre

Dr. Kimberly hambuchen (NASA JSC) presented ROS use in NASA at Johnson space centre

Technology discussions on “ROS 2.0 Challenges” with Tully Foote (Open Robotics) and “ROS-Industrial Road Mapping” with Paul Evans (SwRI) allowed participants to highlight current industrial requirements and gaps in order for the consortium to distinguish key areas of focus.

Products showcasing ROS-Industrial use by MiR ApS, Blue WorkForce, and PPM AS were on display.

Various ROS-Industrial packages such as Scan-N-Plan,, PackML, motion planning, advanced 2Dvision, and 3D-point cloud sensor processing were demonstrated on robots by ABB, Fanuc industrial, UR10, Kuka, and Sawyer collaborative robots.

To learn more about the ROS-I Asia Pacific Consortium please visit the Join Now page.

Overall presentation videos will be uploaded shortly.


Day 1 - 25th May 2017

9:30am ROS Industrial Asia Pacific Consortium
Min Ling Chan, ROS-I AP Consortium Slides

10:00am ROS-I Consortium Americas Update - highlighting 2016 accomplishments and future direction
Paul Evans, SwRI Slides

10:50am Looking forward to ROS2
Tully Foote, Open Robotics Slides

11:20am An Innovative Robotics Platform for Simplifying and Accelerating Deployments in the Food Industry
Hai Chang, Blue Workforce Robotics (Asia Pacific) Slides

11:50am Automatic transportation of carts using a Hook
Niels Jacobsen, Mobile Industrial Robots Slides

12:20pm Lunch + Workshop Group Photo + Exhibition and Demonstrations

2:30 pm National Robotics Strategy for Singapore
Rayner Ng, NRPO Slides

2:45pm Multi-platform Digital Twins for Cobots
Dr. Steve Kerrison, ARTC Slides

3:00pm Coffee Break

3:30pm Singapore’s Industrial Robotics Program
Dr. Marcello Ang, NUS Slides

4:00pm ROS Technical Roadmapping Breakout Sessions
1) Challenges with ROS
Facilitators: Tully Foote (OR), Min Ling Chan (ARTC)
2) ROS-Industrial Roadmap and focus points
Facilitators Paul Evans (SwRI), Nicholas Yeo (ARTC)

5:00pm Wrap up
Nicholas Yeo, ARTC

6:00pm Networking Dinner at Spruce Restaurant

Day 2 - 26th May 2017

9:00am ROS-Industrial: Strength in numbers for automation
Dr. Mirko Bordignon, Fraunhofer IPA Slides

9:30am ROS and NASA
Dr. Kimberly Hambuchen, NASA Johnson Space Centre Slides

10:00am Development of Warehouse Robots for Efficient Flow of Various Materials
Dr. Toshio Moriya, Hitachi

10:30am Coffee Break

10:50am The power of the GUI in robot programming and –operation
Trygve Thomessen and Laszlo Nagy, PPM AS Slides

11:20am ROS for Mobile Robotics
Asadollah Norouzi, Singapore Polytechnic Slides

11:50am Visual Marker-Guided Mobile Robot Solution for Automated Item Picking in a Warehouse
Reeve Chong, NTU Slides

12:20pm Lunch
1:00pm Exhibition / Demonstration
2:00pm Lightning Talks

2:30pm Virtual Fort Knox - an open cloud platform for smart manufacturing
Christian Henkel, Fraunhofer IPA Slides

ROS-Industrial Asia Pacific Workshop

The ROS-Industrial Asia Pacific Workshop starts soon on 25 May 2017. It is going to be a great event with an exciting line-up of guest speakers. Also included will be demonstrations and an exhibition showcasing ROS-Industrial capabilities. For those that have registered we will see at the event.

Be sure to check out the event flyer. International and Regional speakers include:

  • Paul Evans, Director, Manufacturing Technologies, SwRI
  • Tully Foote, ROS Platform Manager, OSRF
  • Dr Kimberly Hambuchen, Human Robotic Systems Deputy Project Manager, NASA Johnson Space Centre
  • Dr Mirko Bordignon, ROS-Industrial Europe Program Manager, Fraunhofer IPA
  • Dr Toshio Moriya, Senior Chief Researcher, Center for Technology Innovation, Research & Development Group, Hitachi, Ltd
  • Hai Chang, Blue Workforce Robotics (Asia Pacific)
  • Niels Jacobsen, CTO, MiR
  • Prof Trygve Thomessen, PPM AS
  • Rayner Ng, Director, National Robotics Programme (NRP), A*STAR, Singapore
  • Dr Marcello Ang, Ag Director, Advanced Robotics Centre, National University Singapore

For more information on attending: https://www.eventbrite.sg/e/ros-industrial-expanding-horizons-with-ros-industrial-in-asia-pacific-tickets-34229406075

Global ROS-I Community Meeting

Thanks to our presenters, Paul Evans (host), Paul Hvass, Matt Robinson, Min Ling Chan, Dave Coleman, and Mirko Bordignon for an informative session on ROS-Industrial projects seeking community involvement.  This web meeting, held on 16 May 2017, is the second Global ROS-I Community Web Meeting. Scroll down below the video for abstracts.

Recording of the Global ROS-I Community meeting held on 16 May, 2017

  • Paul Evans (ROS-Industrial Americas and SwRI): Welcome and review of the agenda.  The Global Community Web Meeting focused on open source projects seeking broader community participation.
     
  • Paul Hvass (PlusOne Robotics): Outgoing ROS-I Americas Program Manager message to the community and introduction of incoming ROS-I Americas Program Manager.
     
  • Matt Robinson (Transitioning to ROS-Industrial/SwRI): Incoming ROS-I Americas Program Manager greeting to the community.
     
  • Min Ling Chan (ROS-Industrial Asia Pacific and A*STAR): PackML Business Analytics Dashboard
    • Highlighted a PackML (Packaging Machine Language) project focused on creating an ability to run ROS across multiple OEM PLCs for manufacturing plants for communication between PLCs, increased interoperability, modularity, and efficiency.  Proposed is a new Business Analytics Dashboard to provide users an intuitive display of the real-time root cause analysis and OEE.
  • Paul Hvass (PlusOne Robotics): Sensor Configuration and Calibration Assistant
    • Presented a project to create a graphical user interface for the industrial calibration package with preset configurations for the most common calibration cases to simplify the calibration process.
  • Dave Coleman (PickNik): MoveIt! Code Sprint – Minimum Cycle Time Motion for Bin Picking
    • Introduced the MoveIt! Code Sprint focused on integrating existing academic motion planners into MoveIt! that have the potential to improve cycle time, optimize existing planners, and systematically compare performance for industrial use cases.
  • Mirko Bordignon (ROS-Industrial Europe and Fraunhofer IPA): The ROSIN Project
    • Provided an overview of the new ROSIN European initiative.  ROSIN was launched to bring ROS to the factory floor with a focus on improving software quality.  Included is a targeted investment for ROS-Industrial Focused Technical Projects.  Educational activities are included as a key component of the initiative to support wider adoption.

Q&A Session with Incoming ROS-Industrial Americas Program Manager

Submitted by Paul Evans, Southwest Research Institute and ROS-Industrial

Last month, in an email blast to the community, we shared the exciting news that Matt Robinson will be joining SwRI to lead the ROS-Industrial Americas open source program as Paul Hvass moves on to a new startup company.  Matt has a passion for ROS-Industrial and a vision for how to address a variety of advanced manufacturing topics and technologies.  I recently visited with Matt and want to share some of the highlights, via a question and answer format. 

Q: When did you first become interested in a career in advanced manufacturing and robotics?

A: During a facility launch project during my time at Caterpillar, we had the chance to introduce automation into this new plant. There were challenges around high mix, variation management, and quality expectations that seemed difficult to manage the costs using a manual process, but certainly hills to climb with automation. The automation that was implemented definitely enabled us to realize our goals, but it dawned on me there was a lot left to be desired when it comes to capability and getting these solutions to perform as desired in an efficient manner. This began a journey for me, to not just seek to implement and leverage automated solutions, but to continuously push the envelope on capability.

Q: What value did you see in the ROS-Industrial open source program that drew you to explore using it for real-world manufacturing applications?

A: The extensibility and capability. Leveraging perception to drive process and build on that intelligence to execute and manage processes. Scan-N-Plan is a great example of capability that is driving the opportunity to process in a new and exciting way. 

The extensibility is key in both the make of the robot that can be utilized as well as the vintage. For some companies, where every brand can occur at a site, and at times they can be a few generations old, this is key in realizing maximum value out of existing assets.

Q: As you reflect on the progress of ROS-Industrial over the course of the past five years, what are two or three of the core components of the program that you believe have had the most impact for industry?

A: The ability to deliver more advanced capability over traditional industrial hardware. This may be trivial, but when you can leverage something that is familiar to do something novel, that goes a long way into building acceptance and confidence. Another component that is impactful, in my view, is the industry roadmapping approach to the program. This is key to build around the core problems of industry and then allow technology development to evolve around these core challenges. This sets a sustainable path and enables prioritization to ensure solutions are developed that are meaningful and have a chance to be adopted and matured through vetting in real factory conditions.

Q: The ROS-Industrial Consortium is now global and 50 members strong. Can you share some thoughts about where you would like to see the ROS-Industrial Consortium Americas accomplish next?

A: The diversity of the Consortium is exciting and a true asset to its health. I would like to see more integrators become engaged and excited to pull the capabilities into their solution sets. Ideally this becomes a vehicle to refine further solutions and provide a more direct service model for deployed solutions. I’m curious to collect more feedback from these deployers to our industry end-users to understand more about their concerns, road blocks, and needs.

I also would like to think more about how we prove industry ready. The blending milestones have been interesting in this regard, having been involved in two of the Blending Focused Technical Projects. The feedback from the integrator regarding the readiness for use in one of their delivered solutions was eye opening, and it drives a lot of thought around how can we ensure capabilities are as ready as can be, to be adopted, molded, and essentially “ready for deployment.”  This is a key challenge that I’m personally excited to work on developing.

Thank you, Matt, for your Q&A. We are excited about the next leg of our journey.

Once Matt is fully settled in his new role, he plans on posting a note to the community with his contact information and some highlights of upcoming events.  We are excited to have Matt join Mirko Bordignon (ROS-I Europe) and Min Ling Chan (ROS-I Asia Pacific) on the leadership team.  We value his strong manufacturing roots and his commitment to keep the initiative focused on capabilities, tools, and applications that will be strategic for industry adoption.

If you have any questions regarding this blog post you may contact Paul Evans at paul.evans <at> swri.org.

Recap: Successful ROS-I Consortium Americas Meeting in Chicago

On April 7, the ROS-Industrial Consortium Americas hosted its annual meeting in Chicago following on the heels of the Automate show. The meeting brought together more than 60 people from across the industrial robotics industry to learn about, discuss, and plan for the future of open source software for manufacturing automation. The Consortium is now a world-wide organization led by SwRI in the Americas, Fraunhofer IPA in Europe, and A*STAR ARTC in the Asia Pacific region.

The annual meeting demarked a number of milestones for ROS-I:

The ROS-I Consortium Americas meeting brought together representatives from across industry including end users, system integrators, robot OEMs, automation equipment OEMs, and researchers.

The ROS-I Consortium Americas meeting brought together representatives from across industry including end users, system integrators, robot OEMs, automation equipment OEMs, and researchers.

The Open Source Robotics Foundation was represented by Tully Foote who took questions during an open mic session, and also led a round table roadmapping discussion about ROS/ROS 2 core.

The Open Source Robotics Foundation was represented by Tully Foote who took questions during an open mic session, and also led a round table roadmapping discussion about ROS/ROS 2 core.

Matthew Robinson from Caterpillar gave an inspiring keynote presentation on the topic of Flexible Automation for Manufacturing in Heavy Industries.

Matthew Robinson from Caterpillar gave an inspiring keynote presentation on the topic of Flexible Automation for Manufacturing in Heavy Industries.

The ROS-I Consortium is global! Each regional program manager presented an update about the progress and future plans for his/her region. Left to right: Min Ling Chan from RIC-Asia Pacific, Dr. Mirko Bordignon from RIC-Europe, and Paul Hvass from RIC-Americas.

The ROS-I Consortium is global! Each regional program manager presented an update about the progress and future plans for his/her region. Left to right: Min Ling Chan from RIC-Asia Pacific, Dr. Mirko Bordignon from RIC-Europe, and Paul Hvass from RIC-Americas.

During the afternoon session, Consortium members organized into groups to discuss specific technical roadmapping thrusts. 

During the afternoon session, Consortium members organized into groups to discuss specific technical roadmapping thrusts. 

Meeting attendees also met with Focused Technical Project moderators to talk about one of the five new project topics that were introduced for 2017.

Meeting attendees also met with Focused Technical Project moderators to talk about one of the five new project topics that were introduced for 2017.

One of the chief benefits of the Consortium is the ability of members to sponsor Focused Technical Projects. These projects expand the capabilities of ROS-I and costs are shared by participating members so their resources are multiplied by their collaborators. This year, five project topics were announced and then discussed in a round table forum:

  • Collaborative Robotic Fastener Installation
  • Sensor Configuration and Calibration Assistant
  • MoveIt! Code Sprint
  • ROS-I Business Analytics Dashboard
  • Robotic Edge Processing

To learn more about the ROS-I Consortium, please visit the Join Now page.