How To Create a Robotics Control System

The biggest reason our clients want us to create a robotic simulation for them is that getting access to an actual robot while developing is difficult at best and almost impossible at worst.

What's even more challenging is getting everyone in the same room to work on the robot.

Especially if your team is spread out around the world, and now due to regulations and social distancing, in some parts of the world, you wouldn't even be allowed to have your entire team in the same room.

You need a digital environment that everyone can work in, and that's what we provide for our clients with Digital Twins.

If you don't know what digital twins are, here's a quick recap: "Digital Twinning is creating an electronic or a virtual version of a real-world thing and keeping them in sync in real-time. "- If you want to learn more about digital twins, check out this article:

The best thing about having a digital twin of your environment is that you can have a small team implementing what thousands of people overseas have created. 

Let's say you're located in the US. Your best engineer might be in Japan, but you can't leverage his talents if he can't work on the local robot in the US, that is, if you don't have a digital twin. 

Development of a Control System

At RSS, we're all about rapid development and prototyping. A client recently hired us to create a control system for their robot, so we buckled up and went to work. 

Our first step was to put the robot in our flagship Robot Simulation & Development software, ZeroSIM. 

How To Create A Robotics Control System

If you haven't heard about ZeroSIM, the summary is that it uses the power of ROS combined with the modeling power of Unity. You can check it out here: ZeroSIM.

The second step was to code against the robot in the ZeroSIM simulation at home and our office; this helped speed us a lot as we didn't have to constantly visit the client's warehouse to play and work on the robot, we've done most of the work in our office.

And the third step is going to the final robot. After we've done most of the work in the digital counterpart, we're going to the warehouse ourselves, testing out the robot, and refining the details. 

Some stuff like the emergency stop button is always better tested in the real world than in the digital twin.

The exciting thing about our last client is that they weren't up for simulation right away. They had bad experiences in the past and just weren't up for it.

Thankfully, they weren't opposed to testing it out, and since our ZeroSIM software is much better than what they were using previously, they've had a fantastic experience. 

One guy was even able to go to Poland to stay with his family and work from there.

Converting a REST API into ROS Commands

The client we've recently worked with wanted to use their REST API to control the robots.

Since most of the robots are controlled with ROS (Robot Operating System), we've had to develop a converter to allow them to control the robots with their REST API. 

The client didn't have many people at the company who are experts in ROS, certainly not the number of people they needed to handle the robots; they were heavily dependent on the REST API. 

And we don't blame them. ROS is super hard to learn and has a steep learning curve. 

Another benefit of using the REST API is that the client had much more secure communication.

The big downside of ROS is that it doesn't have secure communication.

Since security was a priority for a client, we've made sure that ROS was only running inside a docker machine, and that there wasn't a way for someone to exploit ROS to breach through the client's security.

The REST API provided a centralized control unit, a place where they could easily control 50+ robots.

Why You Need to Test Your Robots in a Digital Twin

A recent client had an issue where they ordered many robots for their warehouse and wanted to develop and program them to their needs. 

They didn't use a digital twin simulation before and looked to program everything on the robots themselves.

The problem with this approach is that they almost ended up with a farm of useless robots.

The robot's hardware wasn't up to their needs, and they needed to improve and change it. This is a massive oversight that cost them millions of dollars. 

Oversights like these can easily be prevented by creating a digital twin of your warehouse beforehand. If you're interested in learning more about it, feel free to look at our digital twin case study.

And if you need a team of professionals who can create an amazing digital twin for you, feel free to contact us here: 

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