Department of Computer Science

A software framework for interoperable, plug-and-play distributed robotic systems of systems

Rob Skilton

Remote Applications in Challenging Environments (RACE), UK


In worlds of nuclear energy, mining, petrochemical processing, and sub-sea, robots are being used for an increasing number and range of tasks. This is resulting in ever more complex robotics installations being deployed, maintained, and extended over long periods of time. Additionally, the unstructured, experimental, or unknown operational conditions frequently result in new or changing system requirements, meaning extension and adaptation is necessary. Whilst existing frameworks allow for robust integration of complex robotic systems, they are not compatible with highly efficient maintenance and extension in the face of changing requirements and obsolescence issues over decades-long periods. We present ongoing activities at RACE that attempt to solve the long-term maintainability and extensibility issues encountered in such scenarios through the use of a standardised, self-describing data representations and associated communications protocols. Progress in developing and testing software frameworks to implement this, as well as an overview of current and planned deployments will be presented. This talk relates to and is highly complimentary to Christian Schlegel’s talk on Composition, Separation of Roles and Model-Driven Approaches as Enabler of a Robotics Software Ecosystem. In addition, the proposed framework presents interesting opportunities for modular approaches to verification.

Department of Computer Science
Deramore Lane, University of York, Heslington,
York, YO10 5GH, UK
Tel: 01904 325500