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Composable Models and Software for Robotics Systems

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - RobMoSys (Composable Models and Software for Robotics Systems)

Reporting period: 2018-01-01 to 2019-06-30

Robotics systems are dramatically diversifying to meet constantly evolving user and societal expectations. Robotics system development means not only building several individually more complex sub-systems —such as motion control, computer vision— but also to combine them into systems that can operate in open, dynamic environments, with far greater diversity, and higher demand on performance and adaptability.

RobMoSys aims to coordinate the whole community’s best and consorted efforts to realise a step-change towards a European ecosystem for open and sustainable industry-grade model-based software development. The expected impact is a well-connected ecosystem of relevant stakeholders committed to improve, support, extend and exploit such robotic capabilities as a vendor-neutral commodity platform for innovation.

RobMoSys envisions an integrated approach built on top of the current code-centric robotic platforms, by applying model-driven methods and tools. The project will enable the management of the interfaces between different robotics-related domains in an efficient and systematic way. It will drive the building a professional quality ecosystem by encouraging the community involvement and by elaborating many of the common robot functionalities via Open Calls.
TECHNICAL ACTIVITIES

During M01-M30, the RobMoSys consortium has collaboratively worked with the selected Integrated Technical Projects (ITPs) of the first open call to create a strong digital robotics software platform and ecosystem. The following activities and achievements (WP2, WP3, WP4) were made:

• The RobMoSys methodology has been released, with particular focus on enabling the specification of composable software models (WP2) and its use for the specification of domain specific building blocks for motion and perception (WP3). The technical methodology has published in the RobMoSys Wiki.
• RobMoSys tooling was released and adopted by project partners and community, including ITPs.
• Successful coaching of ITPs, adoption and extension of RobMoSys technical methodology and tooling via ITPs
• Uptake of pilot skeletons, with showcases and demonstrations (WP4), through the development of real robot applications.
• Technical specifications for Open Call II, as result of Call I feedback and Experts workshops.
• Outreach to industry on a technical level via OPC UA bridges, which enable interoperability.
• Development of RobMoSys Digital Data Sheet approach, with examples developed for specific purposes (such as semantic search and human-readable documentation).
• Definition of the Mixed-Port Components approach as migration path to address the fragmentation of communication frameworks in robotics (including ROS and Yarp).
• Definition of technical means for sustainability and to map the RobMoSys ecosystem conformance: Conformance assesses and describes the degree to which a specific asset follows the RobMoSys methodology and approach.
• New showcase of model-driven engineering as “enabler”: The middleware of a robotics system can be exchanged just via modelling. It is possible to run hybrid systems that use different middlewares in different subsystems.
• Modelling Directory: the RobMoSys modelling directory collects models (and software represented by these models) in a central place in the wiki.
• Tooling Documentation and Tutorials has been provided via the RobMoSys wiki.

NON-TECHNICAL ACTIVITIES

We prepared, outreached, executed, monitored and successfully closed the first RobMoSys Open Call (WP5). The ITPs followed the planned schedule and development plan. The key insight after this period is related to the crucial role of individualized coaching by RobMoSys core partners. Coaching contributed to a constructive mood and atmosphere for collaboration: the integration of ITPs was successful and is a valuable contribution to community building. During this period, we also intensively worked in refining our Call specification and strategy to open the second Open Call.

In WP6, an important effort has been dedicated to the dissemination of the RobMoSys approach and means to foster the community involvement. Different communication channels (forums, workshops, conference, newsletters, press releases, etc.) have been used. Until M30, 6 press releases and 21 newsletters were distributed. The project has been presented in 2 expert workshops and 4 public workshops, 5 brokerage days, 8 conferences and exhibitions and two trade fairs targeting industry, research and software developers.

WP7 worked in an impact strategy and roadmap to define communication messages, outreach actions and RobMoSys community building. Several rounds of discussion have taken place by HSU and euRobotics to establish a Stewardship Body on EU Digital Industrial Platform for Robotics as an instrument within euRobotics. The purpose is to build trust in a de-facto standard and movement that carries on what has started with RobMoSys.
Progress beyond the state of the art:

• Different levels of abstraction have been defined going from the mission level to the hardware. Intermediate levels like task plot, skill, service and function are technology agnostic levels. Lower levels like middleware, operating systems and hardware allows the choice of specific platform resources to implement abstract (platform-agnostic) models. This approach allows RobMoSys users to use a same model for different technologies and let the choice decision of the technologies-specific choices to the later development process.

• RobMoSys developed models of the motion stack and the structural representation of algorithms. This included, more concrete, formal models of geometric primitives and relationships (e.g. position, pose, velocities), their mathematical choices of representation, as well as their representation in a digital format. This composable approach aims to provide models to describe, in non-ambiguous way, functions, data and control flow primitives, abstracting away from multiple choices over the data representation of semantic concepts and over concrete programming languages.

Progress regarding our strategic expected impacts:

1. Enhanced productivity of robotics systems through high quality tools: During this period, we designed and defined the initial and applicable baseline for technical structures that enable composition of software and collaboration among the different stakeholders in an ecosystem for the robotics domain. The structures are realized through a model-driven approach and are made accessible by eclipse-based tooling. These structures and tooling are available publicly (via RobMoSys wiki) and are being extended and adopted via the robotics community and Open Calls.

2. Wide acceptance of new, efficient and flexible system development tools across the development community and in the marketplace: Until month M30, the main achievement has been the involvement of the robotics community in the reinforcement of the RobMoSys ecosystem, and the demonstration of their success stories with real industrial cases. During the execution of these first ITPs, the RobMoSys coaching is perceived very well and beneficial lowering the entry hurdle that comes with a paradigm-shifting approach such as RobMoSys.
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