A software framework for interoperable, plug-and-play, distributed, robotic systems-of-systems
In the worlds of nuclear energy, mining, petrochemical processing, and sub-sea, robots are being used for an increasing number and range of tasks, especially where human access is dangerous or prohibited. This is resulting in ever more complex robotics installations being deployed, maintained, and extended over long periods of time. These systems normally demand the simultaneous and co-ordinated operation of multiple systems such as camera and lighting systems, industrial robotics, process tools and sensors etc. Additionally, unstructured, experimental, or unknown operational conditions frequently result in new or changing system requirements, meaning addition of new systems and tools and adaptation is frequently necessary. Whilst some existing frameworks allow for integration of complex robotic systems, they are not compatible with highly efficient maintenance and adaption in the face of changing requirements and obsolescence issues over multiple decades.
We present CorteX as a solution, not only to the requirement to securely integrate complex robotic systems, but uniquely to long-term maintainability and extensibility, the ability to extend a system with minimum effort, and the issues encountered in such scenarios. By abstracting the hardware, control system implementation, and operator interface, we minimise incompatibility issues that arise from hardware changes, increase reusability and reconfigurability of control solutions, and provide consistent operator interfaces irrespective of hardware configuration.
CorteX minimises operating personnel training requirements by providing a standardised user interface, agnostic to the robot hardware. Software maintenance efforts are also minimised when changing system functionality or replacing components, due to a modular, reconfigurable, extensible control framework architecture. This provides a high level of support for expanding facilities, and helps utilise the performance of the workforce, providing cross-deployment hardware and software compatibility. Ready to be used in industry and academia for both operational and R&D purposes.