Real time control and communication

Mainly aiming at automatic control systems within manufacturing and production, the integration of planning, scheduling, dynamic reconfiguration, sensor interaction, and device control is at focus. The system scopes of research and experimentation are at cell and shop-floor levels. The principal remedies used for development and experimentation are:

  • Modern, cost-efficient PCs (Personal Computers).
  • Contemporary and freely available OSs (Operating Systems), such as GNU/Linux.
  • Widely available communication hardware and protocols, such as TCP and UDP over Ethernet and serial communication over RS232.
  • Flexible and high-performance Ethernet-based communication frameworks, such as ROS and ZeroC Ice.
  • General and flexible programming platforms, such as C/C++ and Python with large bases of standard and third-party software libraries.

Together with, in some cases, specialized hardware for communication and proprietary code for application interfacing to certain devices, the entire control system development may be designed, implemented, and experimented or operated in a more flexible and general manner than a traditional approach. A traditional approach to cell or shop-floor level application development would employ a number of PLCs with limited computation capability, and integration of the application platforms of proprietary device controllers, which in their technology support tend to only focus on the device itself.

By employing more general and real-time responsive programming frameworks for control system development in manufacturing and production, we are able to perform fast development of new applications, develop better system designs and implementations, obtain a higher degree of reuse across unrelated applications or systems, and, most importantly, make room for highly advanced algorithms and artificial intelligence at all levels of the control systems.