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Results of the University Robotics Software Study: 

Results of the University Robotics Software Study Eddie Tunstel, Task Manager and Gene Chalfant Jet Propulsion Laboratory (818) 393-2666 (voice) (818) 354-8172 (fax) Mars Technology Program Regional Mobility and Subsurface Access Presented to CLARAty Development Team, November 6, 2003


Study approach and external interfaces “Market” surveys and highlighted results Influence of survey outcomes Software dissemination and roadmap Recommendations and conclusions Outline


Task Manager: Edward Tunstel, JPL, (818)393-2666, Participating Organizations: Jet Propulsion Laboratory NASA Ames Research Center CLARAty Development Team University Robotics Software Distribution Study Task Schedule and FY03 Funding Objective: Conduct a study to investigate the feasibility and process for providing NASA MTP robotics research software as a single package to a wide distribution of universities in the future. FY03 Milestone: Develop and present a roadmap for distribution of a bundled software package, including CLARAty, ROAMS and WITS, to the university robotics research community. Task Completed August 2003


Study Approach CLARAty for Universities Survey University Robotics Survey Current regulations and prior successes Software Dissemination ROADMAP Related task interactions (CLARAty, WITS, ROAMS, etc)


Contacts & interfaces


Solicited CLARAty developers and users to take a survey aimed at sampling collective opinions and suggestions regarding university distribution of CLARAty. Launched survey at CLARAty Workshop, January 13-14, 2003 Survey results provided focal points for our interactions with universities and influenced the direction of the study. CLARAty for Universities Survey


Received 23 survey responses out of 46 solicited (52% of respondents are both developers and users of CLARAty) Major highlights (areas of most consensus) For a bundled robotics development kit, a simulation environment, user interface, and robot hardware are all important components — simulator most important, h/w least important A COTS mobile robot is most recommended hardware complement for a kit (as opposed to component-based motion control kits) The most essential items needed to sufficiently support university users are documentation and training materials. Open Source distribution is commonly suggested. Survey results to be included in full in Final Report (also available at CLARAty Survey Results Summary


Formulated a second survey (conducted April 10-30, 2003) for U.S. university robotics researchers. 20 questions targeted at a sampling of faculty and student researchers to identify their robotics software and hardware tool use/preferences as well as research focus Formulation of survey aided by constructive feedback from MTP management and CLARAty Task Manager University Robotics Survey


86 labs at 61 US universities in 30 states nationwide with diverse research thrusts including mobile robotics, manipulation, computer vision, AI, multi-agents, learning, man-machine interfaces, manufacturing, biorobotics, etc University Robotics Survey: solicitation


The following colleges and universities responded to the survey: Arkansas Arkansas Tech Brown Bryn Mawr Cal Poly Pomona Clark Atlanta CMU Drexel Florida State Florida A&M Harvey Mudd Hawaii Idaho Johns Hopkins UMass Michigan Minnesota Missouri Nebraska New Hampshire New Mexico Notre Dame Oklahoma Rice San Diego State Stanford South Florida Swarthmore Tennessee USC Utah Utah State Vanderbilt Villanova Washington Wisconsin University Robotics Survey: response 63 total responses during April 10-30


Survey provided a variety of useful feedback on current software and hardware use, preferences, and demand for software features offered by CLARAty, WITS, and ROAMS software tools and preferences for university robotics research preferred types of user/technical support from NASA preferred robot hardware complements and most commonly used robotic systems level of interest in NASA robotics software University Robotics Survey: outcomes


Languages, OS, and user support Most commonly used languages: C++ (84%), C (73%), and Java (40%) Most common operating systems: MS Windows (66%) and Linux (63%) Desired user support in order of importance is documentation, forums/ newsgroups, phone/e-mail, bug tracking Preferred software features and libraries Survey reveals a high demand for simulation software and the ability to model own COTS/custom robots Users require flexible, customizable code - they want to use “only what they need” from a suite of generic software such as CLARAty Open Source is very important to university robotics software developers Among the planned set of CLARAty software libraries, vision and navigation libraries are in highest demand. University robotics software use & preferences


Established collective system requirements for hosting a bundled package Envisioned usage configurations workstation to host the full s/w bundle onboard computer to host CLARAty High-end workstation with (preferably) 2 monitors and graphics hardware support recommended for configuration #1 Robot with interface for onboard-laptop, or embedded robot computer with resources sufficient to host CLARAty recommended for configuration #2 MTP Software Bundle Usage Configuration ( ( ) ) University Robot Hardware #1 #2


The distribution of custom and COTS robotic hardware in use by survey respondents reveals ActivMedia robots as most common at university labs The most desirable hardware complement for inclusion in a robotics development kit is a complete COTS robot system (preferred by 65% of respondents); echo of CLARAty survey result Hardware preferences and suggestions from both surveys imply that CLARAty adaptations and ROAMS models should be developed for ActivMedia and iRobot platforms University robotics hardware use & preferences


90% of respondents expressed interest in using NASA-developed robotics software (CLARAty, WITS, ROAMS) 73% would favor using NASA-developed software products to complement or replace their existing tools 98% willing to share software modules they develop with NASA and a larger user community 77% indicated interest in receiving the survey results Overall, the survey results indicate that there is sufficient general interest in NASA robotics software products; this is motivated primarily by the prospect of NASA funding and/or collaborations, as well as low cost to universities. Complete university robotics survey results provided to Dr. Issa Nesnas. Interest in MTP robotics software


MTP Robotics Software Dissemination


Investigated process used by NASA JSC (10+ years ago) for successful external distribution of its Enigma Software Tools Software was developed jointly by civil servants at the IGOAL lab and contractors at Muniz Engineering, Inc. (MEI) in Houston, TX Findings: Some aspects of the JSC process could be emulated for the MTP software; others do not apply. IGOAL Enigma Software Tools


In a nutshell, the following facts pertain to the process currently applicable to MTP software dissemination Wide dissemination of JPL developed software is done through the Open Channel Foundation an independent organization; not NASA-funded, unlike COSMIC, the former software clearing house used by NASA. A request to disseminate software is indicated on NTR form Strategic Intellectual Assets Management Office handles the interface with the Caltech Office of Technology Transfer and the Office of the General Counsel. Release of JPL-Developed Software


Applicable documents can be found on the JPL Rules! web site. Relevant aspects of the official requirements include specific software dissemination requirements as well as requirements for interacting and communicating with the academic/educational community Official procedures provide the necessary steps towards obtaining required release and export approvals Official Requirements & Procedures


ROADMAP Phases and Steps Complete NTR form(s) for release versions of CLARAty, WITS, and ROAMS. Indicate a request to disseminate. In parallel with Step 1, work out permissions needed, if any, to distribute required third-party or Open Source software. Make decision on dissemination of executable software codes or Open Source Obtain export (ITAR/EAR) approval(s) and associated export conditions from LIAO Once export approval is obtained, seek dissemination approval from Software Dissemination Process Owner Upon approval, make software available to Open Channel Foundation for dissemination In parallel with Step 6, develop user documentation for release with software bundle (user guides with use examples, troubleshooting, etc). Initiate a phased release to beta-testers (optional) Appoint chief moderator(s) at NASA/JPL for the software bundle. Establish user support infrastructure to augment Open Channel Foundation user support and community building services Coordinate user/contributor community efforts




ROADMAP NTR with dissemination request Executable / Source? Dissemination via Open Channel Foundation User/Contributor Community Coordination Export approval (ITAR/EAR) Release Approval (S/W Dissem. Process Owner) Export conditions License(s) Build community moderation infrastructure Phased Software Release (beta test) 3rd-party s/w distribution permissions Documentation to accompany release Appoint Chief User Community Moderator


Consider disseminating MTP robotics software as Open Source Develop CLARAty adaptations and ROAMS models for ActivMedia and iRobot platforms If a hardware complement is included with software dissemination, opt for a COTS robot or an otherwise complete robot system Consider reopening the University Robotics Survey for a longer period to improve sampling Recommendations


The University Robotics Survey results have established that an unmet demand exists at universities for robotics software with features offered by CLARAty, WITS, and ROAMS . Typical Host computing platforms used by university robotics researchers can host a CLARAty, WITS, and ROAMS software bundle. It is feasible to undertake the task of disseminating MTP software to universities as desired by the Program The desired software dissemination can be achieved in compliance with the applicable institutional regulations by following the roadmap presented. Conclusions

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