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3 min read

European Space Agency (ESA) Builds Advanced Telerobotics Development Platform on RTI Connext DDS

RTI Connext DDS Software Ensures Development Platform Flexibility and Solves Real-Time Extreme Communication Challenges

SUNNYVALE, CALIF.—November 12, 2014—Real-Time Innovations (RTI), the real-time Industrial Internet of Things communications platform company, and the European Space Agency today announced that ESA has developed a telerobotics development platform built on RTI's Connext DDS product. The platform is called Space Portable Application Network (SPAN) designed to meet the stringent flexibility and re-usability requirements needed for robust telerobotics. The platform will allow the ESA Telerobotics & Haptics Laboratory to develop and test complex robotics systems.

Existing robotics development platforms do not meet the real-time communication requirements of these telerobotic applications nor do they consistently succeed in real-time deployments. ESA's telerobotics development platform Space Portable Application Network (SPAN) seamlessly delivers a robust, scalable and high performance system while saving costs, bringing the researcher closer to the needs of the system which results in more informed research.

"My team was tasked with building the first telerobotic control systems for use in space," said Dr. André Schiele, Head of ESA Telerobotics & Haptics Laboratory. "The SPAN telerobotics development platform allows us to assess the technology we've developed. We selected RTI for this advanced platform because their product seamlessly manages real-time closed-loop control over a highly challenged communication link. Just as importantly, it delivered a framework on which to build an extremely flexible development environment ideally suited to mechatronic development teams."

RTI Connext DDS is currently being used for real-time communication to the International Space Station (ISS) and is proven in this DIL (Disconnected Intermittent and Lossy) communication link — future telerobotics applications will take this real-time feedback and control to a more advanced and complex level as they connect humans and robots across space in real-time. ESA and the Telerobotics & Haptics Research Lab are spearheading this project at the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC).

A DDS-based robotics platform is highly flexible enabling rapid reconfiguration and can address both high frequency real-time control loop needs as well as highly distributed communication (including augmented reality video) over challenging datalinks. It also allows for the decoupling of robot elements which enables independent development and rapid integration and test. When research breakthroughs require development of complex distributed real-time systems, the infrastructure must be flexible so it can respond to unexpected research results, and reusable so the components can be readily re-architected into subsequent projects and demos.

"What's unique about our data-centric Connext DDS technology is that we enable real-time feedback of the link status into the robot's closed-loop control algorithm in a very difficult communication environment," said Gerardo Pardo-Castellote, CTO of RTI. "In addition, whenever you're dealing with a research environment, elements are changing all the time and the engineers have to be able to switch components and software in and out quickly and easily, the DDS-powered development platform provides exactly this for the Haptics Research Lab. We look forward to continuing to support this ground breaking research and contributing to the advancements in telerobotics in Space."

About ESA

The European Space Agency (ESA) is Europe's gateway to space. Its mission is to shape the development of Europe's space capability and ensure that investment in space continues to deliver benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.

ESA's Telerobotics & Haptics Lab is developing robotic technologies for advanced human-machine interaction, extending the human sense of touch to space and planetary environments.

About RTI Connext® DDS

Connext DDS is the only messaging solution that combines standards compliance with ultra-high performance and scalability, eliminating vendor lock-in and the need for proprietary messaging approaches. It offers extensive Quality of Service controls to accommodate specific real-time data delivery needs with respect to frequency, timeliness and reliability. It also significantly reduces the cost of servers, networking hardware and network bandwidth with many efficiency innovations, including a broker-less architecture, producer-side message filtering and smart cross-network message routing.

About RTI

RTI provides the communications platform for the Industrial Internet of Things.

Our RTI Connext® messaging software forms the core nervous system for smart, distributed applications. RTI Connext allows devices to intelligently share information and work together as one integrated system. RTI was named "The Most influential Industrial Internet of Things Company" in 2014 by Appinions and published in Forbes.

Our customers span the breadth of the Internet of Things, including medical, energy, mining, air traffic control, trading, automotive, unmanned systems, industrial SCADA, naval systems, air and missile defense, ground stations, and science. The total value of system designs that trust RTI for their fundamental architecture exceeds $1 trillion.

RTI is committed to open standards, open community source and open architecture. RTI provides the leading implementation of the Object Management Group (OMG) Data Distribution Service (DDS) standard.

RTI is the world's largest embedded middleware provider, privately held and headquartered in Sunnyvale, California.