by Wolfgang Herzner
The ARTEMIS-project R3-COP will provide European industry with new leading-edge methodology and technologies to enable production of advanced robust and safe cognitive, reasoning autonomous and co-operative robotic systems at reduced cost in terms of time and money in different application domains. It will establish an environment for their design, development, assessment and validation and develop a high-performance and fault-tolerant processing platform. R3-COP is the first ARTEMIS project addressing this area.
The project is a joint effort of about 35 partners from industry and research, from 12 countries all over Europe, comprising about 1,800 person months at a cost of €18.3 million. Its planned duration is three years (1st May 2010 – 30th April 2013).
Safe and robust autonomous systems are one of the key tangible manifestations of embedded systems simply because the application domains are so diverse, from rescue over industrial automation to home care and entertainment. Such systems increasingly share space, and even cooperate closely, with humans, so an urgent need exists to assert and guarantee their dependability, especially in terms of safety and robustness.
Multi-domain coverage of R3-COP technology (underwater, ground-based, airborne, manufacturing, home appliances).
The major goals of R3-COP are to overcome this fragmentation of the market, to reduce the cost of system design and development considerably by facilitating composability and reducing re-validation and re-certification effort. R3-COP aims at cross-domain reuse of components and creation of a generic framework of tools and methods for specific reference platform instantiations, being thus in-line with the ARTEMIS (“Advanced Research and Technology in Embedded Intelligence and Systems”) strategy. ARTEMIS-IA is an industry-driven European Technology Platform with more than 200 members from large corporations, SMEs and research organizations. The ARTEMIS Joint Undertaking is a PPP (Public-Private Partnership) of ARTEMIS-IA, the EC and the ARTEMIS member states. It is a Joint Technology Initiative (JTI), a new mechanism within the 7th Framework Programme. ARTEMIS develops its own industry-driven work programme with annual updates and an open call each year. Whereas the Framework Programmes aims at more long- and mid-term research, ARTEMIS targets research results closer to the market (timeline to market 3-5 years). R3-COP is one of the 13 projects selected in the 2nd Call (2009).
R3-COP is also in-line with the European Robotics SRA (Strategic Research Agenda), covering the general embedded systems technologies, system architecture, software and system engineering tools, validation and verification, safety, planning, modelling and communication,
Today, a large number of different approaches and platforms exist, rendering an economic realization of such systems currently unrealistic (except in the manufacturing domain, where robots are already industrially exploited). Simultaneously, as such systems increasingly share space – and even closely cooperate – with humans, there is an urgent need for providing every possible means and measures to assert and guarantee their dependability, in particular safety and robustness. R3-COP will progress autonomous systems in two directions: technology and methodology. The following obstacles and open issues hampering the broad and economic application of autonomous robotic systems in new, demanding domains and applications are addressed by R3-COP:
- lack of a uniform platform that would provide a flexible framework to integrate components from various technology providers
- lack of appropriate verification and testing means for autonomous systems with complex behaviour in realistic environments
- the current robotic systems lack a "broader" sense to understand the environment and sufficient reasoning capabilities
- unavailability of high-performance computational embedded platforms
- unavailability of integrated components for advanced image recognition/processing and other perception/recognition/reasoning capabilities.
As mentioned, R3-COP will progress autonomous systems in two directions: technology and methodology.
- Technology: R3-COP will develop a fault-tolerant high-performance processing platform, based on a multi-core architecture, as well as innovative system components for robust perception of the environment including sensor fusion, and for reasoning and reliable action control, communication, positioning and navigation, and mission planning.
- Methodology: a methodology-based development framework with an underlying knowledge base will enable economic development of reference platforms for various robotic applications as well as dedicated solutions. A tool platform will allow for guarded application of the design methodology, including new test strategies and V&V tools especially suited to test autonomous systems for suitability and safety when to be applied in complex real-world environments.
A common architectural approach (framework), the development of a high performance extendable processing platform and of innovative system components for advanced perception and sensing, together with the methodologies for advanced validation and verification as prerequisite for certification will meet the objectives of the ARTEMIS 2009 Call, namely to:
- Reduce the cost of system design from 2005 levels by 15% by 2013 (R3-COP expects at least 20% while at the same time enabling faster time-to-market).
- Achieve 15% reduction in development cycles, especially in sectors requiring qualification or certification by 2013.Manage a complexity increase of 25% with 10% effort reduction by 2013, by composition of domain/ application specific systems from a knowledge-base of components, methods and tools (embedded HW, sensors, perception).
- Reduce re-validation and re-certification effort and time by 15% by 2013.
- Achieve cross-sectoral reusability, by developing and implementing a rather generic framework and platform with domain-specific instantiation, and use of multi-purpose computing platform.
The outcomes will be applied in a series of demonstrators from ground-based (industrial (co-operating fork lift, manufacturing) and domestic (intelligent home-cleaning module, domestic indoor and outdoor robot platform), airborne (co-operating with unmanned ground-based systems) and underwater domains (co-operation among autonomous and/or remote-controlled vehicles).
Wolfgang Herzner, , Erwin Schoitsch
AIT Austrian Institute of Technology / AARIT