ROS-Industrial Americas 2018 Annual Meeting Review

The ROS-Industrial Consortium Americas (RICA) held its 2018 Annual Meeting in San Antonio, on the campus of Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) on March 7th and 8th, 2018. This was a two-day event, with the 7th open to the public, including tours and demonstrations, followed by Consortium Members meeting on the 8th with a road-mapping exercise and project idea brainstorming.

This was the first time that RICA held the event over two full days. Also, this was the most well attended event, topping out over 80 people on the 7th. There were talks spanning from the more strategic/visionary to the technical with regards to open-source robotics application development. This provides an excellent cross-section of the technical development community and organization decision makers to share ideas and cross-pollinate taking back what they learned to their organizations.

The morning of the 7th featured:

  • SwRI Introduction - Paul Evans - SwRI
  • ROS-I Consortium/Introduction - Matt Robinson - SwRI
  • Manufacturing in Mixed Reality - Dr. Aditya Das - UTARI
  • Discussion on the Design of a Multiuse Workcell and Incorporation of the Descartes Package - Christina Petlowany - UT Austin Nuclear Robotics Group
  • Integrating ROS into NASA Space Exploration Missions - Dustin Gooding - NASA

The talks touched on a mix of how humans can interact with the technological solutions and also the need for solutions that can work within environments originally designed for people. The common thread is enabling humans and robots to work more efficiently within the same spaces, and leveraging the same tools.

Rick Meyers of the ARM Institute & Air Force Research Laboratory, during the lunchtime keynote, discussed the vision and motivations of Air Force ManTech to drive advancements in automation and robotics in the manufacturing environment. This tied into the motivation of the Advanced Automation for Agile Aerospace Applications (A5) program, and how ROS ties into the realization of the Air Force ManTech vision.

The tours and demonstrations included many different applications, all with either ROS/ROS-Industrial element, though in some cases complimentary. ADLINK Neuron focused on coordinated mobile robots and a means to assist their industrial partners to easily transition to the ROS2 environment and provide consulting services for DDS implementation and ROS-related algorithm development.

KEBA demonstrated their new ROS RMI interface integrated into their controller, while UTARI demonstrated Manufacturing in Mixed Reality implemented through the Microsoft HoloLens, allowing users to fuse process guidelines, real-time inspection data, and cross reference information to determine adaptive measures and project outcomes.

SwRI and the ROS-I team demonstrated an example of merging SwRI’s Human Performance Initiative’s Markerless Motion Capture combined with path planning to retrieve an object from an open grasp. SwRI’s Applied Sensing Department showcased their Class 8 truck enabling all attendees to go for a ride, while gaining insights to the vehicle’s capabilities. The ROS-I team at SwRI also presented Robotic Blending Milestone 4, Intelligent Part Reconstruction, with TSDF implementation, and Trajopt, a newly fully-integrated into ROS sequential convex optimizer. The UT Austin Nuclear Robotics Group demonstrated their improved situational awareness for mobile manipulation on their Husky platform where users could “drive” the system to pick up a presented object.

Finally, the SwRI team presented and demonstrated the A5 platform, which is a mobile manipulation platform designed to perform numerous processes on large aircraft in an unstructured setting. The process demonstrated was sanding of a test panel overhead. Overviews of the localization and planning on the visualization were included.

Talks for the afternoon centered around OEM and Integration service providers, and included:

  • ADLINK Neuron: An industrial oriented ROS2-based platform - Hao-Chih Lin - ADLINK
  • Unique ROS Combination with Safety and PLC - Thomas Linde - KEBA
  • Leveraging ROS-Industrial to Deliver Customer Value - Joe Zoghzoghy - Bastian Solutions

This set of talks brought home innovations by the OEM and service provider communities. Bastian Solutions’ story of concept via working with the ROS-Industrial team, through pilot and into production, demonstrated a real value proposition for mobile solution, and broader ROS-enabled, development for the integrator community.

The morning of the 8th featured:

  • RIC-Americas Highlights and Upcoming Events - Matt Robinson & Levi Armstrong - SwRI
  • RIC-Europe Highlights & ROSiN Update - Mirko Bordignon - Fraunhofer IPA
  • ROS-Industrial Lessons from Bootstrapping in Asia Pacific - Min Ling Chan - ARTC
  • ROS2 is Here - Dirk Thomas - Open Robotics
  • ARM Institute Introduction & Update - Bob Grabowski - ARM Institute
  • Windows IoT & Robotics - Lou Amadio - Microsoft

Matt Robinson covered strategic initiatives for the Consortium followed by Levi Armstrong covering RICA technical developments, including TrajOpt and Intelligent Part Reconstruction, Noether, PCL Afront Mesher, and Qt Creator updates and upcoming release.

Mirko Bordignon highlighted for the Americas audience what is happening around the ROSIN initiative, driving awareness, and furthering the global nature of ROS-I. Min Ling Chan shared progress within the Asia-Pacific region and the progress and status of the Pack ML Focused Technical Project, which has a Phase 2 launch coming soon.

Dirk Thomas of Open Robotics presented the latest on ROS2, and for the first time we were happy to welcome Bob Grabowski of the ARM Institute. The ARM Institute is the newest DoD Manufacturing Innovation Institute, and this is the first Annual Meeting since the Institute’s launch. Synergies between the ARM Institute and ROS-I will be important to monitor moving forward.

The morning session concluded when the Windows IoT and Azure teams were represented respectively by Lou Amadio and Ryan Pedersen, presenting their current strategy for ROS support and their plans moving forward, particularly for ROS2.

The featured keynote was presented by Dr. Phil Freeman of Boeing, “Why Boeing is Using ROS-Industrial.” Phil offered great insights to the value of ROS-Industrial for Boeing, and what it has enabled for their operations in the context of the challenges Boeing faces. The talk featured example applications and conveyed the message that within the robotics space we truly are at a tipping point with regards to capability and accessibility.

A road-mapping session was then conducted, focusing on problems to solve. The idea is to tie problems to projects and then identify the capabilities that need to be developed to meet certain prioritized problems. The problem focus areas were Human Capability, Quality Processes and Execution, Flexibility/Agility, and Strategy/Alignment. Common themes were: standard interfaces, documentation, ROS2 for Industrial applications, ownership and community engagement, simpler recovery means, and real-time diagnostics.

The afternoon speaker session touched on technologies that seek to enable richer and more reliable networking and data sharing/management through the application development/implementation process, and across the value stream:

Now that the dust has settled, these are some observations from this seat:

  1. ROS-Industrial is a big tent, and is truly global. Each Consortium needs to optimize how it works within their region to meet their member needs and optimally leverage resources available to them.
  2. As regional resources are optimized, the other consortia need to monitor developments, share information and ensure that all within the broader ROS-I organization are aware what is in-flight, what development activities are happening where, to reduce/eliminate redundant efforts.
  3. ROS2 is here, but there is work to do. It will be important to monitor developments and foster awareness to enable developers, solution providers, and end users to leverage ROS2 capability to complement their end solutions when and where appropriate.
  4. There are a number of innovators, solution providers, and end users realizing value proposition on ROS/ROS-Industrial deployments TODAY, and in some cases for some time. Let’s socialize and share their success stories.
  5. Foster both membership engagement and community engagement in the vision and execution of the vision for ROS-Industrial. We are excited to both enable start-ups to engage, but also improve how we leverage our University partners. Through effective projects, sponsorships, or roles within the ROS-I organizational structure, these all help foster a sense of community and subsequent ownership.
  6. There is an inflection point or tipping point, and for advanced robotics this seems to be an appropriate time. The idea also, that ROS can span beyond just the robotic processes, but do more to enable more intelligent processing via leveraging IoT, enable leverage of advanced technologies for further end user value seems to be gaining steam.
  7. We advance ROS-Industrial together. Engage, participate, communicate, and we succeed together.

As always, we are looking forward to feedback on the event and how to improve this event and events moving forward. We are looking forward to bringing back the online quarterly membership meetings, so keep an eye on that, as coordination and the invites are hosted on a rotational basis by the three Consortium managers. ROS-Industrial is an open-source project, and with that we seek to be open, and a be that forum for sharing ideas, and solving problems for industry in the 21st century.

Public day presentations can be found on the Event Page within the agenda after each speaker line item. Member day presentations are included behind the member portal, and are available for download.

Thanks for your support of open-source automation for industry!

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.

ROS-I Consortium Annual Meeting to Feature Eight Noted Speakers

Meeting to be held April 7 in Chicago

  • Keynote speaker Matthew Robinson, Caterpillar
  • Brett Hemes, 3M
  • Trent Weiss, The Boeing Company
  • Dr. Steve Turek, Manufacturing USA
  • Tully Foote, OSRF
  • Min Ling Chan, ARTC
  • Mirko Bordignon, Fraunhofer IPA
  • Paul Hvass, SwRI
Click the image above to download a printable flier for the ROS-I Consortium Americas Annual Meeting.

Click the image above to download a printable flier for the ROS-I Consortium Americas Annual Meeting.

2nd ROS-Industrial EU Conference and RIC-EU Kick-Off

A post by Ulrich Reiser and Florian Weisshardt, Fraunhofer IPA

The ROS-I community is cordially invited to the following events:

 =============================================================
ROS-Industrial Conference and Consortium Europe kick-off
=============================================================
at Fraunhofer IPA, Stuttgart, Germany
 
June 26: ROS-Industrial conference (public)
June 27: ROS-Industrial Consortium Europe Kick-Off (restricted to RIC-EU members)
 
Conference Objectives
---------------------------
The objective of the ROS-Industrial conference is to bring together representatives from academia and industry to exchange experiences on application development with ROS and clarify the needs of industry with respect to ROS-Industrial. The participants have the opportunity to obtain most recent information on current activities, already achieved results and future goals of the ROS-Industrial community.
 
Conference Topics:
------------------------
– Developments, trends, technologies in the ROS-Industrial community
– Examples of successful transfer of ROS components established in research into industrial applications
– Current ROS-Industrial Projects (hosted by the ROS-Industrial Consortium)
 
Target Audience
--------------------
The conference addresses in particular system integrators that aim at providing flexible, economic and manufacturer independent automation solutions, ROS-Industrial developers in research and industry, executive personal of small and medium enterprises as well as R&D divisions of larger companies in the field of automation, logistics and production.
 
Speakers
------------
-    Urko Esnaola, Tecnalia
-    Andrija Feher, Synapticon GmbH
-    Clay Flannigan, Southwest Research Institute
-    Joshua Hampp, Fraunhofer IPA
-    Gijs van der Hoorn, TU Delft Robotics Institute
-    Berend Küpers, ALTEN Nederland
-    Fabrizio Romanelli, Comau S.p.A. Robotics
-    Dirk Thomas, Open Source Robotics Foundation
-    Elisa Tosello, University of Padova
-    Florian Weißhardt, Fraunhofer IPA
 
 
General Chair
-----------------
Martin Hägele, Fraunhofer IPA
 
Session Chair
-----------------
Ulrich Reiser, Fraunhofer IPA
 
Registration
-----------------
Register for ROS-Industrial conference until June 18, 2014:
http://ric-eu.rosindustrial.org/2nd-ros-industrial-conference/
 
Link to Consortium:
http://ric-eu.rosindustrial.org/consortium/
 
 
Looking forward to meeting you at both events!
 

 

ROS-I Training Class Photos

Spring training classes for ROS-Industrial gave participants an opportunity to learn new skills through hands-on training. The March class, “What Can I Do with ROS-I?”, was a one-day high-level overview and experience with RViz, MoveIt!, PCL, and ROS-Industrial. The “ROS-Industrial Basic Developers’ Training Class,” held May 19-20, took developers through foundational robot manipulation and perception ROS-I/C++ coding skills leading to a collision-free pick-and-place capstone project. Included in the two classes, we had participants from ABB, Bell Helicopter, Boeing, CAT, Cessna, Cox Machine, Empire Robotics, ESCO, EWI, Ford, GA Tech, GE, IDEXX, John Deere, OmniCo AGV, OSRF, Rensselaer CATS, SER, Siemens, Tempo Automation, UTARI, UT Austin NRG, Wolf Robotics, Yaskawa Motoman. Check out pictures from the classes below.

On March 5, we had a number of demonstrations and presentations, and would like to thank:

  • Mr. Chris Pennington of Olympus Controls for the UR5 robot used in the Camera-to-Robot Calibration demo
  • Mr. Jack Thompson of UT NRG for the Multiscale Teleoperation demo
  • Dr. Jake Huckaby of GA Tech Cognitive Robotics Lab for the presentations about: 
    • A Skill Abstraction Framework in Robot Manufacturing Tasks
    • OmniMapper: A Modular Multimodal Mapping Framework
  • Mr. Patrick Dingle of Empire Robotics for the VERSABALL demo
  • Ms. Katherine Scott for her blog post about the class: Industrial Grade Awesome!
March: Showing the demonstration collision-free pick and place system during a lab breakout session.

March: Showing the demonstration collision-free pick and place system during a lab breakout session.

March: A group working on 3D perception exercises, acquiring data from a Kinect, fitting and segmenting the ground plane vs an object on the ground.

March: A group working on 3D perception exercises, acquiring data from a Kinect, fitting and segmenting the ground plane vs an object on the ground.

March: A group working on manipulation exercises.

March: A group working on manipulation exercises.

March: Jack Thompson of UT Austin showing a gesture-based teleoperation HMI.

March: Jack Thompson of UT Austin showing a gesture-based teleoperation HMI.

March: Brian Gerkey from OSRF trying out the VersaBall from Empire Robotics.

March: Brian Gerkey from OSRF trying out the VersaBall from Empire Robotics.

March: We didn't get a formal group photo in March, but here you can see most of the group enjoying dinner on the San Antonio River Walk. We ended up having two class day options in March, as we exceeded the capacity of the one-day class.

March: We didn't get a formal group photo in March, but here you can see most of the group enjoying dinner on the San Antonio River Walk. We ended up having two class day options in March, as we exceeded the capacity of the one-day class.

May: Class participants working on the capstone collision-free pick-and-place demonstration in the lab.

May: Class participants working on the capstone collision-free pick-and-place demonstration in the lab.

May: Video of the capstone project.

May: Ubiquitous Group Photo from the May 2014 Training Class

May: Ubiquitous Group Photo from the May 2014 Training Class

2nd ROS-Industrial Community Forum

The 2nd ROS-Industrial Community Forum webinar was held on April 28, hosted by Alexander Bubeck of Fraunhofer IPA. The featured topic of the forum was the new ROS/ROS-I interface to Comau robot controllers. That topic was covered in two presentations, first by Fabrizio Romanelli of Comau, and then also by Elisa Tosello from the University of Padua, Intelligent Autonomous Systems Lab. 

Five-minute "Lightning Talks" were also given on various topics:

  • Industrial Calibration (Chris Lewis, SwRI)
  • A ROS Control overview and what it means for ROS-I (Adolfo Rodriguez Tsouroukdissian, PAL Robotics)
  • Overview of the European Robotics Challenge, (Ramez Awad, Faunhofer IPA)
  • Updates of recent developments on the BRIDE MDE toolchain, (Alexander Bubeck, Fraunhofer IPA)

ROS-Industrial Community Forums are open to the broad ROS-Industrial community and foster the dissemination of information about new ROS-Industrial capabilities and best practices. If you are interested in presenting at the next Forum, please contact us.

ROS-Industrial Consortium Americas Celebrates 20 Members!

It is our pleasure to announce that the ROS-Industrial Consortium Americas is officially 20 members strong!

Logos for the 20 official members of the Consortium, April 2014

Logos for the 20 official members of the Consortium, April 2014

Our brief history: The ROS-Industrial Open Source project began as the collaborative endeavor of Yaskawa Motoman Robotics, Southwest Research Institute, and Willow Garage to support the use of ROS for industrial automation. The software repository, originally hosted on Google Code, and now on GitHub, was founded by Shaun Edwards (SwRI) in January 2012. Led by SwRI, the ROS-Industrial Consortium Americas launched in March 2013. As you might have guessed from the name, there is also a ROS-I Consortium Europe, led by Fraunhofer IPA in Stutgart, Germany. The Consortium exists to support the ROS-Industrial community by providing training, technical support, and setting the roadmap for ROS-I.

The Consortium also fosters new open-source code creation to meet specific near term needs of members through Focused Technical Projects. Currently, three such projects are underway:

  • Robotic Blending, Milestone 1, championed by Spirit AeroSystems
  • CMM-Accelerated Robotic Routing, championed by Cessna Aircraft Company (Textron)
  • Minimum Cycle-Time Path Planning, championed by Idexx Laboratories

At the annual meeting last month, four new Focused Technical Projects were announced, and are available to join:

  • Heavy Helper
  • Multipass Robotic Welding
  • Robotic CNC Machining for Soft Materials (i.e., AL and CF)
  • Robotic Machine Tending

We are grateful to our members for their support and enthusiasm! If you are interested in learning more about the latest Focused Technical Projects, or about the Consortium in general, please contact us.

Yaskawa America - Motoman Robotics Division: RIC Member of the Week

Logo Yaskawa Motoman.jpg

What began as a collaboration between SwRI, Willow Garage, and Yaskawa America--Motoman Robotics, grew into ROS-Industrial (ROS-I). The first industrial manipulator to run an industrial robot client was a Motoman SIA 20D with DX100 controller, which would become the architecture for the driver layer in the ROS-I socket interface for manipulation. Since that first demonstration, Yaskawa has continued to support ROS-Industrial in a number of ways:

  • Assisted in development of new Moto Plus modules for both the DX100 and FS100 controllers to enable both smooth and full speed manipulation via a socket interface: http://wiki.ros.org/motoman.
  •  Joined the ROS-Industrial Consortium and presented “Why Industrial Robot OEMs Should Care about ROS” at our first Consortium meeting and at ROSCon 2013.

  • Supported a hardware demonstration of ROS-Industrial for a deburring application at ROSCon 2013.

This early involvement and support for ROS-I has made Motoman hardware hardware easy to integrate, and has led to a number of demonstrations using their hardware:

Teaser: Recently, Yaskawa has teamed with RIC EU leader Fraunhofer IPA to create a standard ROS-I interface for dual arm robots, based on guidance from a ROS-I Enhancement Proposal posted by SwRI. We will provide updates as they become available.

ROS IN DER INDUSTRIELLEN ANWENDUNG

Fraunhofer IPA to host ROS-I Seminar in Germany

The open-source “Robot Operating System” (ROS) offers highly-developed robotics software components, which can be used in flexible industrial applications. In this praxis-oriented seminar you will get in touch with the basic functionalities of the ROS framework and the ROS-Industrial initiative. Participants will get an impression about the power of the system and learn how to use it in their own application.

Dynamic environments with a variety of different work pieces create a demand for highly flexible automation solutions supported by sensors and intelligent software components. A cost efficient, reusable and powerful solution is the open-source framework ROS. It offers a huge amount of intelligent algorithms, methods and integrated libraries. An advantage is that software as well as hardware components can easily be exchanged due to a network based communication layer and standardized interfaces. One example for standardization is the simple message protocol which interfaces multiple industrial robot controllers and offers a common interface on the ROS level. Another focus of ROS-Industrial is to enhance software quality through a model-driven-engineering approach and automated testing. This allows for time efficient and cost effective software development and lowers the overall development costs.

In robotics research, ROS is already a well-established standard. The next step is to bring this power to industrial applications. For this purpose, the ROS-Industrial initiative was founded. This seminar will get participants in touch with the theoretical basics of ROS and teach how to practically use it for their own industrial application.

Ros in der Industriellen Anwendung seminar will be held March 6 at Fraunhofer IPA Campus, Nobelstrasse 12, 70569 Stuttgart, Germany, in parallel to the ROS-Industrial event at SwRI. International participants can register by email at anmeldung@stuttgarter-produktionsakademie.de referring to eventTS_RIT_140306".

UT Austin NRG: RIC Americas Member of the Week

NRG-Austin Logo Group.png

The Nuclear Robotics Group (NRG), an interdisciplinary research group associated with the Nuclear Engineering Teaching Laboratory (NETL), is headed by Dr. Mitch Pryor at the University of Texas at Austin. NRG uses industrial automation hardware to conduct graduate-level research targeting the energy sector. Because of NRG's experience with a variety of C++ based middleware for its research in the past, it made sense to begin using and contributing to ROS-Industrial over the past year as a Consortium member.

The ROS-Industrial team at SwRI enjoyed working with NRG researcher Dr. Brian O’Neil who spent summer 2012 developing a 3D object classifier that was used for the ROS-I Automate Demo. O’Neil’s work demonstrated how quickly academic research can transition to practical use on real industrial hardware. In a period of a few months, his idea was in practice on a heterogeneous dual manipulator system that demonstrated many of the core capabilities of ROS-Industrial.

NRG has recently released a Multiscale Teleoperation Demo video (below) that shows a natural user interface used to control an industrial robot. In the video, Ph.D. candidate Jack Thompson uses hand and arm motions to set waypoints for a simulated Motoman manipulator. A PrimeSense RGB-D sensor observes Thompson’s motions, and then his ROS/PCL-based software nodes interpret the motions and convert them to tool poses. What is unique: Thompson has a separate input control that scales the system’s sensitivity to his hand/arm motions. If he wants the robot to execute a small/delicate motion or a large macro-motion he is able to do so by scaling the sensitivity accordingly, making control of the system much more efficient. Up next, Thompson will being working with NRG’s Motoman SIA5 robots.

We look forward to more exciting accomplishments and collaborations with NRG.

Fraunhofer IPA: RIC-Americas Member of the Week

Fraunhofer IPA logo.JPG

The ROS-Industrial Consortium Europe led by the Robot and Assistive Systems department at Fraunhofer IPA (IPA), which designs robot systems and automation solutions for industrial applications and the services sector, recently has made exciting strides in the robotics industry. Among their impressive feats of engineering are the Care-O-bot 3 and rob@work 3 mobile manipulators. Check out:

IPA was an early ROS adopter, using it with the platforms mentioned above, and for a number of client-funded industrial automation projects. As SwRI sought a European collaborator for ROS-Industrial, IPA was a natural fit, given its leadership both in industrial robotics R&D, and its ROS expertise. IPA has many laudable accomplishments in the ROS community:

  • In May, they hosted ROSCon 2013, which brought together the global ROS community, and was a widely heralded success.
  • They launched an Eclipse toolkit for ROS called BRIDE, which enables model-based design for ROS (signal flowgraph drag-and-drop user interface).
  • They are contributing researchers for the Factory-in-a-Day project, which will create new agile manufacturing capabilities to address high-mix low-volume workflows; these capabilities will be made public through the ROS-Industrial repository.
  • They are leading the Lean Automation (LIAA) project, which will develop human-robot co-working capabilities based on the ROS-Industrial framework.
  • They used ROS in many earlier European research projects. Some of the code has been released through public repositories (e.g. SRS, ACCOMPANY, ect.).

There are also a couple of important upcoming events that will take place at IPA in Stuttgart:

  • March 6, 2014: 2nd ROS-Industrial Training
  • June 26th, 2014: 2nd ROS-Industrial Workshop aligned with European Consortium Kickoff Meeting

For more about the ROS-Industrial Consortium-EU, check out their website.

ROS-Industrial – MTConnect Integration Program Completes

This work was conducted under Grant Opportunity Number 2012-NIST-MSE-01 for the Intelligent Systems Division of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in collaboration with AMT (Association for Manufacturing Technology), Mazak USA, NCDMM (National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining), SwRI (Southwest Research Institute), and System Insights.

Program Summary

The ROS-Industrial – MTConnect Integration program, completed this past summer, had a goal to create a bridge between the MTConnect and ROS-Industrial and demonstrate the capability with a robotic machine tending application. Similar to ROS messaging, MTConnect is a standard that describes both the symantic data definition and method of communication between devices in a manufacturing environment. The ROS-Industrial/MTConnect bridge allows devices that use either comms/messaging system to communicate seamlessly. The practical application of the bridge is to create plug-and-play capability between MTConnect devices and any robot that is supported by ROS-Industrial. The final deliverable for the program was a machine tending demonstration with a ROS-Industrial-controlled robot (Fanuc) and a MTConnect-controlled CNC (Mazac CNC Lathe). The MTConnect standard pre-defined the communications and system interactions between the robot and CNC, allowing an integration with significantly less programming than would be required from a traditional implementation. (for more information see the video below).

Importance to ROS-Industrial

While the final demonstration of the program may not be a new application, the real value in this program was to provide a method for ROS-Industrial devices to communicate with other devices (even other ROS-Industrial devices) using an industry standard. With this capability, the vision of a factory floor with intelligent industrial systems all communicating and interacting seamlessly could be realized. This is a capability that is not traditionally supported by ROS. There have been efforts at creating a multi-master system, but these efforts are not appropriate for an industrial application. Such approaches require every system to be ROS-aware which is not practical for all the systems in an industrial environment. Many devices are too simple for the overhead of ROS. Thus MTConnect provides a pragmatic solution for device-to-device communications.

In addition to this important capability, several ancillary capabilities were developed or prototyped as part of this effort.

  • Robot Task Description Format (RTDF) – A standard ROS format for capturing robot moves and way-points in a human-readable format.
  • Standard Control System State Machine and GUI – The vast majority of industrial control systems follow very similar behavioral concepts, including common states such as idle, waiting, in-process, stopped, reset, etc... With the adoption of common states, a similar GUI structure emerges. While these concepts are not new, powerful tools like those available with ROS-I now allow developers to take advantage of them.
industrial_GUI.jpg

The ROS-Industrial - MTConnect Integration Program provided many benefits to the ROS-Industrial program, including new capabilities and a real world demonstration of a robotic machine tending application. We are excited to see how others will build upon these new capabilities for their own applications.

ROS Gains Momentum

For those coming from a factory automation background, you may have only recently heard about ROS, the open source Robot Operating System. In the past, various “universal” robot software packages have come and gone, but if you are concerned that ROS is just the next flash in the pan -- think again!

A few weeks ago, the Open Source Robotics Foundation, curators of ROS, posted the yearly statistics for the ROS community. The numbers speak for themselves:

  • 11,000 unique IP addresses downloaded ROS packages in the month of August, compare to 8,100 last year
  • 748 total publications have cited the seminal 2009 M. Quigley et al paper about ROS, more than two times the 2012 statistics
  • 22,700 page-views-per-day average on ROS.org in August
  • 32,500 thousand unique .deb packages downloaded in August
  • 1.6 million total ROS .deb packages downloaded in August

ROS is not going away; it has just hit its stride and is growing rapidly. The graph below is from last year, but it captures the trend:

Graph
of publicly released and indexed ROS repositories, 2008 to 2012

Graph of publicly released and indexed ROS repositories, 2008 to 2012

Researchers at Auburn, AMT, Berkeley, Brown, CCNY, CERTH, CTU Prague, CMU, CNRC, CWRU, ETH Zurich, Fraunhofer IPA, Freiberg U., GA Tech, Johns Hopkins U., LAAS-CNRS, LANL, MIT, NASA, NCDMM, NIST, NREC, NRL, Oregon State, Osnabruck U., OSRF, Politecnico di Milano, RWTH Aachen U., Sandia Nat. Labs, Stanford, SwRI, SRI, Technalia, TU Catalonia, TU Darmstadt, TU Delft, TU Munich, U. Arizona, U. Bremen, UC Boulder, U. Genova, U. Glasgow, U. Kassel, U. Koblenz, U. Padova, U. Penn, UT Austin, U. Toronto, U. Tuebingen, UTARI, U. Tokyo, U. Wurzburg, Warsaw TU, Washington U. St. Louis, and Willow Garage have tapped into ROS. And this condensed list neglects the equally numerous for-profit research labs using ROS! Check out the ROS 5-Yrs. montage video, which captures the notable accomplishments using ROS.

Great advances in robotics are happening on the ROS platform, so wouldn’t it make sense to have an industrial version of ROS that works with existing factory automation hardware? There is! It is called ROS-Industrial and while it is only in its second year of deployment, it already works with ABB, Adept, Fanuc, Motoman, and Universal robots. Check out the ROS-I 1-Yr. montage video to see our first year’s accomplishments. Come out to meet ROS/ROS-I pioneers at our next event: Oct. 23-25 in Santa Clara at RoboBusiness!