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The Open Source Robotics Foundation (OSRF) has released a new version of Open-RMF that is available on Iron Irwini, the ninth release of ROS 2, and ROS 2 Rolling Ridley. The Open Robotics Middleware Framework (Open-RMF) is a free, open-source, modular software system that enables interoperability between multiple fleets of robots and physical infrastructure.
The OSRF said the new release is primarily supported on Ubuntu 22.04 with AMD64 and ARM64 architectures. The new release added new capabilities and behaviors, OSRF said. Here is a look at some of the new capabilities:
Mutex Groups: Now lanes and vertices can be assigned to a “mutex group.” Before a robot can begin using a lane or vertex that belongs to a mutex group, the robot must lock the mutex group for itself. A mutex group can only be locked for one robot at a time. This allows graphs to be designed with improved traffic flow in cases where a system integrator can anticipate clutter.
Localization hook: The EasyFullControl API now has a hook that will trigger a localization request whenever the robot arrives at a new floor after taking the lift. This reduces the effort needed by integrators since you no longer need to infer when the robot has changed maps.
Dynamic charging: You can dynamically update which chargers each robot should use while idle (or provide a location for them to park). We also provide a charger schedule node that lets you pass in a schedule configuration (.yaml) and will automatically send out charger updates according to the schedule.
Michael Grey, software engineering manager, Open Robotics team at Intrinsic, also explained some of the improved behaviors of the new release. One major improvement he mentioned was how robots use lifts. He said robots now set the horizon of their traffic schedule to be the point where they will begin waiting for their lift session to begin.
Grey also said that after any replanning that happens while a robot is using a lift, the adapter will now reliably determine if the lift session must remain locked or should be released. Previously, there were edge cases where the state machine might fail to realize that the lift needs to be released after a replan.
He detailed that “finishing tasks,” such as returning to a charger, will now be immediately canceled when a new task request comes in instead of needing to finish before the new task begins. And doors will be opened or released reliably as needed after a replan occurs. Previously there were some edge cases where a replan would confuse the state machine about whether a door needs to be opened or closed.
Open RMF was launched in October 2021. It is used in a variety of environments, including airports, hospitals, seaports, shopping malls, warehouses and more. Open-RMF won an RBR50 Robotics Innovation Award in 2021 for its efforts around robot interoperability.
Intrinsic is a software company that launched out of the X moonshot division of Alphabet in mid-2021 to simplify the use of industrial robots. It acquired the Open Source Robotics Corporation (OSRC), the for-profit arm of OSRF, in December 2022. The OSRF is the developer of the Robot Operating System (ROS). Intrinsic also acquired Open Source Robotics Corporation Singapore (OSRC-SG), the division of the company that led directly to the release of Open-RMF for interoperability.