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Real-Time Innovations Inc., or RTI, today announced the availability of its Connext 6 ROS Middleware Wrapper (RMW) Layer, which it said brings the “field-proven, production-grade strength” of RTI Connext 6 to ROS 2, the latest release of the Robot Operating System. The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company said this combination will enable software developers to more rapidly develop, test, and debug distributed robotics systems.
ROS 2 offers an open-source framework for building robotic systems. RTI, which was founded in 1991, claimed that its RTI Connext product supports intelligent architecture by sharing information in real time, allowing large applications to work together as one. The privately held company said its offerings include software compliant with the Object Management Group’s Data Distribution Service (DDS) standard, which provides the connectivity backbone for ROS 2.
“RTI was founded out of the Stanford Robotics lab, so robotics is deeply rooted in our DNA,” stated Gerardo Pardo-Castellote, chief technology officer at RTI. “We work with our customers, beginning in the research phase of their system development, all the way through to production, where performance, reliability, and scalability become critical. We recognize the value of participating in the ROS ecosystem and are proud to offer new ways to utilize RTI Connext DDS for a production-grade solution.”
Connext ROS Middleware Wrapper
The Connext RMW combines the flexibility of ROS 2 with access to RTI Connext tools for improved distributed system visualization and debugging capabilities, RTI said. It includes support for RTI Connext DDS Professional in Connext 6, which is used for industrial and military robotics applications where reliability and scalability are of paramount importance, said the company.
The ROS middleware layer also includes support for RTI Connext DDS Micro and future releases of the product suite, according to RTI.
“We developed the new Connext RMW layer from the ground up to better take advantage of Connext APIs [application programming interfaces] and features,” said Andrea Sorbini, senior software engineer at RTI and technical lead for the project. “This allowed us to simplify the code and greatly improve the performance of the RMW layer, while also providing more turnkey access to RTI’s powerful distributed system-development tools.”
“The new RMW brings the system-level visibility and monitoring capabilities of Connext DDS to ROS 2,” said Neil Puthuff, senior software integration engineer at RTI. “It enables advanced tools such as RTI Admin Console and RTI Monitor to work seamlessly in a ROS 2 environment. No other current RMW offers this level of visibility, and we look forward to continuing to help our customers simplify complex system development.”
RTI Connext in robotics
RTI said it delivers the connectivity framework for safe, secure, reliable operations in complex, cooperative, and autonomous robotics systems. The company added that its software is used in the energy industry, autonomous vehicles, military systems, and medical robotics.
In June 2020, RTI joined the Autoware Foundation, an open alliance for autonomous driving technology, to share its experience with ROS 2 and help advance the foundation’s Autoware.IO and Autoware.Auto initiatives.
RTI Connext DDS can also be found at the core of NASA’s rovers and space robots, in the European Space Agency’s robotic arm, and implemented in TechnipFMC’s semi-autonomous underwater remotely operated vehicles (ROVs). It is also widely used in building and running robotics projects in leading universities around the world.
More recently, the system was used by the collegiate teams entered in the Indy Autonomous Challenge (IAC) as they participated in the September hackathon, one of several leading up to the IAC final race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Oct. 23, 2021.
Demonstration and availability
RTI will be showing the Connext RMW Layer in its virtual booth at ROSWorld 2020 on Nov. 12. It will also present a one-hour interactive Tech Talk about the integration between ROS2 and RTI Connext DDS.