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What is RT-Middleware?

Along with the expansion of the Internet, the number of research and development projects aiming at making robots and robot systems more intelligent by distributing their necessary resources over a network is increasing. Unfortunately, the development of such system usually requires huge investments as well as a large amount of time. These are the main reasons why up until now, we could not witness any success story of a commercial robot reaching a price to functionality ratio high enough to make it widely accepted on the market. The RT-Middleware aims at establishing a common platform based on the distributed object technology and which would support the construction of various networked robotic systems by the integration of various network enabled robotic elements called RT-Components.
The robotic systems to which we are refering here are not necessarily single bodied robots such as mobile robots or humanoid robots, but more generally speaking “any intelligent networked system using robotic technology and which can perform real world tasks”. For example, this also includes systems that although do not look like robots use robotic technology, such as a daily life support or nursing systems in which various sensors and actuators disseminated in the living space collaborate via a networking technology. Actually, any system in which sensing technology, or the fact of processing signals acquired by sensors, collaborates with actuators to provide a feedback into the real world could be assimilated as a robotic system. RT (Robot Technology) is the general term proposed by the Japan Robot Association to designate such a technology.
The RT-Middleware provides a common platform for the RT technology and aims at boosting the efficiency of the research and development in robotics, extending the scope of its applications and fostering the emergence of new markets. Its development is a continuous process. A serious problem often pointed out in the development of software supporting robotic systems compared to the development of traditional software is the lack of reuse due to the specificity of each robotic system. From this observation, the idea emerged of developing a middleware as the common platform to assist in the development of robotic systems in which a large number of users could be involved and which would promote reusability via the modularization of the software involved in the realization of the robotic technology.

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