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Composable Models and Software for Robotics Systems

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - RobMoSys (Composable Models and Software for Robotics Systems)

Reporting period: 2019-07-01 to 2020-12-31

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.

The RobMoSys consortia, together with third-party organizations, has achieved its main goal of creating a digital industrial-grade platform for robotics composed of a common development methodology and toolsets using solid software engineering principles for efficient interoperability and composability. RobMoSys consolidated the sustainability strategy by providing a wiki-based body of knowledge and educational material and by starting two core initiatives: 1) the euRobotics Stewardship on Software and System Engineering (based on RobMoSys results) and the Eclipse Working Group on Intelligent Robotics (RobMoSys tooling and software components evolution and maintenance).
TECHNICAL ACTIVITIES
The project focused on consolidating the RobMoSys ecosystem by integrating the contributions from Integrated Technical Projects (ITPs) and ensuring a fast adoption of the ecosystem by early industrial users. The main achievements (WP2, WP3, WP4) are:
• The RobMoSys methodology and tooling have been released in open source, with focus on enabling the specification of composable software models (WP2) and its use for the specification of domain specific building blocks for motion, perception and world models (WP3).
• Uptake and extension of pilot skeletons by ITPs, with showcases and demonstrations (WP4), through the development of real robot applications.
• Outreach to industry on a technical interoperability level via OPC UA, ROS, YARP bridges with the involvement of external experts. Definition and implementation of the Mixed-Port Components approach as migration path to address the fragmentation of communication frameworks in robotics.
• Definition and implementation of RobMoSys Digital Data Sheet approach, with examples developed for specific purposes. A link to Asset Administration Shell (AAS) has been established.
• Definition of technical means for mapping the RobMoSys ecosystem conformance to assess and describe the degree to which a specific asset follows the RobMoSys methodology.
• Creation and maintenance of the software and models repositories.
• Tooling documentation and tutorials has been provided via the RobMoSys wiki and RobMoSys Academy portal.

NON-TECHNICAL ACTIVITIES
We prepared, outreached, executed, monitored and successfully closed two Open Calls (WP5). The ITPs followed the planned schedule and development plan, despite the COVID-19 situation. The main results of the work with ITPs are:
• An ecosystem-oriented approach with cohesive integration of ITP results and success adoption stories, driven by a coached-oriented approach (intensive work with ITP internships in consortium member facilities).
• Cross-fertilization and openness of ITP results. ITPs were key enablers for RobMoSys community building.
• Successful dissemination and publication results: ~23 ITP papers, workshops, tutorials, and media communication.
In WP6, an important effort has been dedicated to the dissemination of the RobMoSys approach and means to foster the community involvement. The main dissemination results are:
• Twitter account achieved 919 followers, LinkedIn 113 members, and website more than 83,183 views, from 25,582 visitors.
• We created 13 videos with 10 links to other RobMoSys-related videos. Six on-line tutorials were produced, integrated in the RobMoSys Academy portal.
• We participated in 23 relevant international events.
• We organised the Conference on Software and Systems Engineering for Robotics, which took place virtually on January 2021; with 114 registered participants. Press attended and published an article on www.heise.de a highly respected news and information source for IT and digital topics.
WP7 worked in an impact strategy, exploitation strategy, and sustainability. Its main results are:
• RobMoSys introduced the concept of a Stewardship for a robotics body-of-knowledge to the euRobotics.
• A new Eclipse Working Group will be created on Intelligent Robotics, led by RobMoSys and ROSin partners.
• Transfer of the RobMoSys conformant SmartMDSD and Papyrus4Robotics toolchains to Eclipse Foundation.
• Researchers of the THU Service Robotics Group founded the “Toolify Robotics GmbH” company.
• The RobMoSys approach has been applied within various EU projects such as ESROCOS, IMBALS, COMP4DRONES and CPS4EU.
Progress beyond the state of the art:
• RobMoSys defines modelling constructs (the RobMoSys Metamodel) that are unique and specific to the robotics domain (from low-level concepts such as communication patterns to high-level concepts such as Mission, Tasks, and World Models). SmartMDSD and Papyrus4Robotics enable the definition of configurable components and the reuse of these components in different contexts (different robots, robot versions, upgrades, etc.).
• RobMoSys enables to reuse stacks with different robots, to reuse action plots with different components (task - skill - interface). There is no need to cover each individual combination of H/W differently, but to compose the very same stacks with different H/W such as different platforms, different sensors etc. This combinatory is possible without revising the reusable stacks (demonstrated e.g. by the flexible navigation stack).
• The Asset Administration Shell (AAS) addresses the interoperability challenge by describing a unified digital twin. Robots are integrated using frameworks such as ROS. However, these frameworks typically do not integrate, out-of-the-box, with solutions used in manufacturing environment. In RobMoSys, the idea of the AAS is leveraged to enable a seamless integration of robots into the factory environment, by means of RobMoSys Digital Data Sheets.

Progress regarding our strategic expected impacts:
1. The project established RobMoSys as a "self-energizing movement". RobMoSys achieved the ‘snowball’ effect: the project attracted early adopters with the quality of code, the initial assets attached to the code like the Wiki guide, documentation, scientific and technical papers, first releases, tutorials, and the interest of the adopters is doing the rest.
2. The long-term impact will be guaranteed via two RobMoSys sub-communities: the Stewardship for the Body of Knowledge (hosted by euRobotics); and the Eclipse Working Group on Intelligent Robotics (hosted by Eclipse Foundations).
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