RTI's software speeds unmanned system, robotic development


Orlando, Fla.— Real-Time Innovations (RTI, Sunnyvale, Calif.) unveiled its new software platform for unmanned systems, Constellation, on July 9 at the AUVSI Symposium and Conference. RTI says its software provides a framework, components, and tools that simplify unmanned system programming, from initial design through field configuration. The firm adds that Constellation is the first commercial, off-the-shelf platform designed specifically for unmanned systems.

"The Constellation framework and reusable components reduced our development effort by as much as 50% in some phases of our Quest underwater ROV development," says Aaron Needles, senior software engineer at Alstom Schilling Robotics, a developer of telerobotic manipulator systems and remotely operated vehicles. "In addition, Constellation's tool-chain streamlined development so much we could move engineers into other areas sooner than planned."

RTI reports that Constellation provides a foundation on which any unmanned system can be built. Historically, developers produced their own software platforms, often for each new system, a process that was expensive and risky. Constellation provides a complete software platform for unmanned systems, from a field-proven framework to an end-to-end tool chain. The framework provides a flexible architecture on which developers can build modular solutions from reusable components. The tool chain provides a graphical development environment that covers requirements analysis, software design, controls design, project management, networking, revision control, system integration, simulation, testing and debugging.

"Constellation is a new approach to complex control system development. We've integrated the best tools and standards for developing complex systems. Some are RTI products, and some are best-in-class from other vendors. It will change the way unmanned system developers build their products," says Dr. Stan Schneider, RTI's ceo. "With Constellation, developers can use UML to speed the design process; turn their Simulink models directly into working code; build and test subsystems incrementally; and stop worrying whether their framework will scale as the project increases in complexity.'

RTI adds that Constellation has been field-tested in unmanned systems, and has shown that an off-the-shelf framework and end-to-end tool-chain can be used in a variety of applications. For example, Alstom Schilling uses Constellation in three product lines, its Titan and Conan manipulators and Quest ROV. Other customers include iRobot, which uses Constellation in its PacBot; NASA's Robot Systems Technology Branch at the Johnson Space Center, which uses Constellation in the Robonaut anthropomorphic robotic system; and Stanford University's Aerospace Robotics Lab, which is using Constellation in several projects.

"Students in the lab have been using Constellation technology for years in projects as varied as an underwater ROV, autonomous, radio-controlled helicopter, and robotic manipulator. Today, we have four different projects using Constellation,' says Dr. Stephen Rock, director of

Control Engineering Daily News Desk

Jim Montague, news editor


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