Communications Systems Applications

RTI Connext® DDS supports many-to-many communications with per-data stream Quality of Service (QoS) control, making it the ideal platform for communications applications ranging from software defined networking (SDN) to multichannel video to space data links. It maintains efficient, high-speed communications between communication endpoints, regardless of whether they are running in the same process or distributed across the globe (or beyond). Connext DDS supports multiple publishers and subscribers in a single session and can take advantage of multicast on networks that support it. Connext DDS is highly adaptable for today’s diverse communication environments.

Communications Applications: Customer Stories

Space Communications at NASA

NASA uses Connext DDS in space robots and ground stations.

The NASA Ames robotics program was RTI's first customer for Connext DDS (then called NDDS). They used DDS to build an architecture that integrated rover designs for remote exploration of planets such as Mars.

The datalink to the robot must work over millions of miles of space. It takes many seconds or even minutes for signals to reach their destination. Packet loss is routine. It is the polar opposite end of the spectrum from the fast data-center applications mentioned above. Data centers have high bandwidth, low latency and reliable links. Space links are low-bandwidth, high-delay and lossy. However, DDS can adapt to this situation as well, simply by changing QoS settings. Connext DDS is proven over both high-fidelity and disadvantaged links.

NASA recently proved that DDS can work as a space link by testing communications from the International Space Station (ISS) down to a robot running on earth. An operator on the ISS was able to control the robot from space. In reality, of course, the direction would be reversed, with the operator on the ground and the robot in space.  Either way, the link works.

NASA Ames recently successfully tested RTI Connext DDS as a datalink from the ISS.

Read more about the NASA Human Exploration Telerobotics program.

European Space Agency

ESA uses Connext DDS for communication and video to demonstrate long-distance object control from aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

RTI Connext DDS enabled developers to manage complex communications from ISS to the earthbound exploration robot, as part of ESA’s Analog-1 project.

Using DDS enabled ESA to get active feedback from the robotic arm, while operating the gripper via remote control to work with the precision and dexterity of a human hand.

Read how ESA manages complex communications from the ISS to earth » 

Harmonic Scalable Broadcast Switching

Connext DDS powers Harmonic video switches, enabling high-performance scalability and future extensibility for the switching network.

Harmonic is the world's largest transmission and video switching equipment vendor. Harmonic video switches deliver worldwide video-on-demand. Harmonic supplies hardware to Comcast, DirectTV, Cox communications, Time-Warner cable and others. If you watch TV using these services, your signal is likely delivered through a switch running RTI software.

A typical stream has hundreds of potential sources. For instance, consider an automated "headend," which is typically just an unmanned box in a neighborhood. The network signals arrive at the headend from a satellite dish. Local station flow may come from cables. Pre-recorded content resides on disk. Each channel going to subscribers is assembled into a consistent stream as it is needed.

Video switching is a demanding real-time problem. For example, a nationally-televised football game stream may indicate a coming 28-second gap. The headend switch can choose a 30-second commercial for the local car dealership from the local disk, compress it a bit and drop it into the feed going out to subscribers. All of this must happen fast enough on hundreds of channels to eliminate glitches and ensure a smooth picture.

The video signals do not travel over Connext DDS; Harmonic uses Connect DDS to control the switching itself. Connext DDS reliably conveys programming to the switches and then affects the stream assembly. These switches are huge. To make it all work, Connext DDS handles thousands of clients and millions of messages.  These are housed in a rack with many line cards. The communication is over the backplane. Connext DDS delivers the performance and scale required for this application. The architecture will easily expand to handle even larger systems in the future.

Smart Machine Applications

Smart machine capabilities are increasing the autonomy and operational efficiency of traditional manufacturing, mining, SCADA, and Oil and Gas systems. Connext DDS benefits include easier integration of large systems, more secure and distributed SCADA, and better optimization with cloud-based analysis and real-time feedback to the operational system.  

These smart machines target outdated industrial systems. Protocols, such as DDS can merge with traditional approaches in the industry, such as OPC UA. Together, these programs can build a much more intelligent and distributed system.

Download our whitepaper: A Converged Approach to Standards for Industrial Automation.

Connected Systems Applications: Customer Stories

Modular Software Infrastructure to Monitor, Control and Collect Real-Time Equipment Analytics with Komatsu

Komatsu is an international leader in industrial-use products and services including construction and mining equipment. In 2011, Komatsu chose the Connext DDS modular infrastructure for its flexible architecture and real-time data analytics. With Connext DDS, Komatsu can manage and analyze equipment data in real-time, delivering intelligent capabilities and predictive maintenance.

Large Telescope Systems

The world’s most powerful telescopes deploy large-scale Adaptive Optics (AO) that use highly distributed and extremely accurate sensors, actuators and control systems to change the shape of the adaptive mirrors in the telescope to capture real-time information in the skies. This involves processing an enormous amount of data from hundreds of sensors, which must precisely adjust the actuators controlling the instrument's mirrors in real time.

RTI Connext DDS delivers the communications framework to facilitate real-time intelligent information flow for AO. It integrates with supporting systems such as event and log notifications without custom programming and offers a flexible platform for fast and easy configuration in the field. Based on the DDS standard, Connext DDS delivers low latency, high throughput and fault tolerance and runs over wireless and satellite communication links.

Robotics and Haptic Systems

Robotics and haptic systems are complex machines which work through interconnected autonomous, semi-autonomous and human controlled modules and often operate in harsh and unpredictable conditions. Compounding the operational challenges, the human operator often needs to control the robots across very large distances, over unreliable network transports.

RTI Connext DDS is the proven platform to develop and run high-performance, high-precision robotics. It features an innovative data-centric connectivity model that integrates a wide range of demanding robotic system requirements and provides high performance over low-bandwidth communication links for fast response time. It delivers low latency with real-time Quality of Service (QoS) and is highly resilient. Robotic and Haptic systems built on Connext DDS are self-forming and self-healing with no single point of failure. Built-in security provides for confidentiality, integrity and access control, keeping robots safe from security breaches. 

Read more about RTI in Robotics and Haptic Systems »

Training and Simulation

Simulation technology has been utilized in the Aerospace & Defense market for many years to train and prepare our military forces. Today, simulation technology is rapidly expanding in other industries, such as Healthcare, Automotive and Energy. In Healthcare, medical simulations involve mannequins with thousands of sensors on them used for training to improve patient outcomes. In Automotive, simulators are used to test autonomous vehicles in different driving conditions, enabling developers to test on millions of road miles in a shorter period of time and at a lower cost.

Effective training requires a system that provides true, high-fidelity simulation with response times closely matched to real-world scenarios. Real-Time Innovations (RTI) Connext DDS is the platform that brings distributed simulations together in a secure, high performance, scalable environment. It is the world’s first data-centric framework to address security down to the individual data object level while maintaining real-time response.

Read more on Connext DDS in Training and Simulation

Underwater Drones

Oceanic drones operate under the world’s most extreme, unpredictable conditions.  Communicating with these unmanned underwater vehicles in real-time presents unique challenges: distorted transmissions, limited underwater bandwidth and wifi to transmit video and telemetry recordings, stabilization of sensors and more. Building and operating these complex underwater operations can cost millions of dollars.

RTI Connext DDS delivers affordable, highly-reliable real-time connectivity from ocean floor to ship or land operations. It livestreams data and video to multiple operators, while delivering the most consistent, low-latency experience to the direct pilot. The standards-based Connext DDS framework allows for rapid integration with existing ROV technologies. Mission data is backed up and protected through simultaneous streaming of live video to operator devices and the drone, in the event of lost or damaged equipment. Advanced RTI tools deliver preventative maintenance capabilities and system state snapshots, to prevent costly equipment failures.  Used by OpenROV and other leaders in oceanic exploration drones, RTI delivers the communications framework for advanced, affordable underwater research and exploration.