Robotic Systems Architectures and Programming

Abstract

Robot software systems tend to be complex. This complexity is due, in large part, to the need to control diverse sensors and actuators in real time, in the face of significant uncertainty and noise. Robot systems must work to achieve tasks while monitoring for, and reacting to, unexpected situations. Doing all this concurrently and asynchronously adds immensely to system complexity.

The use of a well-conceived architecture, together with programming tools that support the architecture, can often help to manage that complexity. Currently, there is no single architecture that is best for all applications – different architectures have different advantages and disadvantages. It is important to understand those strengths and weaknesses when choosing an architectural approach for a given application.

This chapter presents various approaches to architecting robotic systems. It starts by defining terms and setting the context, including a recounting of the historical developments in the area of robot architectures. The chapter then discusses in more depth the major types of architectural components in use today – behavioral control (Chap. 38), executives, and task planners (Chap. 9) – along with commonly used techniques for interconnecting connecting those components. Throughout, emphasis will be placed on programming tools and environments that support these architectures. A case study is then presented, followed by a brief discussion of further reading.