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The Robot Operating System (ROS) is a set of software libraries and tools that help you build robot applications. Pilz builds on that foundation on its journey towards industry 4.0. By Pilz

With the increasing trend of robotics gearing towards openness and interoperability, there is a demand for a single robot controller that can be used by many manufacturers across a wide range of industries.

However, most robot manufacturers are currently relying on their own proprietary controllers which are operating with pre-programmed paths. Hence, this sets a limitation when faced with obstacles as this restricts the modification of paths in today’s dynamic environment.

Robot Operating System

The Robot Operating System (ROS) is an open source framework for writing software for robotics applications. This programming framework consists of a collection of functionalities, drivers and a communication layer.

Programmers can create their own ROS packages, containing certain functionalities and drivers, and share them with other users via a shared community. Even though the package might contain some level of path planning functions, users are able to adapt to their own individual application.

Additionally, each package is modular and is compatible with hardware from most manufacturers. Due to its versatility, users can change the manipulator without having to change the ROS packages.

One benefit of the ROS is that the open source framework facilitates collaboration within the ROS community between specialists from various sectors such as research institutions and robot manufacturers.

These collaborations allow the creation of ROS packages, conducting reviews and tests as well as an exchange of information and support – suggested improvements on the codes and the creation of tutorials.

Furthermore, the open availability of source text and the wide usage of modern programming languages in many industrial applications – Python and C++. There is a wide range of sensors and actuators from various manufacturers to undertake a series of tasks and control complex algorithms.

Therefore, this requires a standardised communication layer, which makes ROS the appropriate framework for complex applications and a well-connected, interoperable system that aligns with the spirit of Industry 4.0.

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Open Approach Towards Service Robotics

Pilz introduced a set of modular building blocks, which allows the users to build their own robot applications.

This is due to the increasingly breakdown of boundaries between the service robots and industrial robots as well as the high demand for innovative and dynamic service robots from many start-ups.

As a result, Pilz has decided to proceed with an open approach for its service robotics modules with both corresponding physical and virtual interfaces.

While many robot manufacturers have decided to develop their ROS packages externally, Pilz developed and tested these packages to the industrial quality requirements of the ROS Industrial Consortium.

This is to counter challenge of having an open source framework as ROS packages can come from various sources within the community, ranges from undocumented blocks to professional high-quality projects. In this way, Pilz can control and maintain the high standard quality over all the ROS packages created.

In fact, the ROS packages enable a smoother system integration process and make it more user-friendly with well documented and supporting tutorials readily available.

This allows users with no expert knowledge of programming to easily implement their own individual robot application.

Moreover, this modular approach allows users to use a combination of various ROS packages to customise their applications, providing a high level of flexibility for the design of robotics applications.

There are many benefits using Python programming language to implement the ROS packages. One of the benefits is that it is simple for users to pick up and the Python programming interface makes it easy to use it on MoveIt! Interface a tool for path and motion planning.

Pilz implemented this programme, which uses an environment model and target position to plan the path for the Pilz Manipulator.

Pilz also provides robot kinematics as well, which allow specific manipulator application to be modelled in the 3D visualisation tool RVIz or in a simulation environment such as Gazebo, ie: before the purchasing decision is made.

Therefore, customers will find this cost and time effective with the virtual commissioning of the actual robot.

Additionally, the modular nature of the Pilz service robotics range supports rapid commissioning in accordance with the plug-and-play principle. In this way, new users can set up their service robotics application effortlessly.

Towards Industry 4.0

In conclusion, the goal for Industry 4.0 is for production plants to have a smart factory, which is not only user-friendly but adapts readily to flexible processes, changing production conditions and quantity to today’s dynamic environment.

Therefore, the implementation of the ROS and its many benefits will open doors to new possibilities, with Pilz offering the necessary and quality support that are suitable for automation and safety in equal measures.


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