Feeds

The call for robotics standards is on

How to make the abnormal normal

A new approach to endpoint data protection

RoboBiz The robotics industry's penchant for bespoke gadgets has so far led to a slow moving field where every company and hobbyist has to spend huge amounts of time and money on new designs. A growing number of people have started to point to a lack of hardware and software standards as one of the main reasons robotics has stalled and failed to live up to its potential. And they want to change this.

At a very fundamental level, the creation of robotics standards proves a daunting task and one that some argue should not even be pursued. To this day, most robotics companies do custom work where a client asks for a specific device to handle a narrow task. To meet the customer's needs, companies must build one-of-a-kind components and wrap them in one-of-a-kind software.

Bruce Boyes, however, thinks that certain parts of the robotics mission can be centered around standards. He's pushing for the development of reusable hardware components and common software modules that can be shared.

"We need robots that are compelling – more compelling than what they typically are today," Boyes said, during a speech here at the Robo Business conference. "We want ways to develop applications more efficiently. We want to develop a lot of robots instead of struggling to do just one with crude, low-level tools."

Boyes is pushing the work being done by the Object Management Group's Robotics Standards Process.

This standards body is looking into creating a common set of work around middleware, real-time applications, hardware abstraction, human interfaces and tools to let robotic devices communicate with common IT systems.

"How many of you want to write your own TCP/IP stack," Boyes asked the crowd.

Boyes, who founded embedded Java player Systronix, wants to bring some of the lessons learned in the open source software world to robotics. He'd like to see a robotics version of Eclipse where programmers build a strong development core and then let others create add-ons for it.

He threatened that the US could fall behind Asia on the standards front if it's not careful.

"Most of the people involved in robotics standards are from Asia," he said. "Japan and Korea, in particular, have huge multi-billion dollar government sponsored robotics industries."

Microsoft this week too picked up on the standards push with its release of Robotics Studio - an SDK for software developers working in the robotics field. Redmond hopes to have its package become a standard that a wide range of companies can use to make robotics software components.

Of course, the complex nature of robotics and the lack of a clear direction will make the standards push a tough one.

"If we want to develop a standard, we need to know what the standard is for," said Paolo Pirjanian, the CTO of Evolution Robotics. "If we don't know what the end products are, it will be really hard to come up with standards."

As you can tell, we're at the very beginnings of the robotics standards discussion.

You can find more information on the OMG's robotics work here

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Brit amateur payload set to complete full circle around PLANET EARTH
Ultralight solar radio tracker in glorious 25,000km almost-space odyssey
Boffins spot weirder quantum capers as neutrons take the high road, spin takes the low
Cheshire cat effect see neutrons and their properties walk different paths
NASA Mars rover FINALLY equals 1973 Soviet benchmark
Yet to surpass ancient Greek one, however
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
prev story

Whitepapers

7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned devices?