SOFTWARE ARCHITECTURES FOR ROBOTICS

SOFTWARE ARCHITECTURES FOR ROBOTICS

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iten
Code
86805
ACADEMIC YEAR
2019/2020
CREDITS
6 credits during the 2nd year of 8733 Computer Engineering (LM-32) GENOVA

5 credits during the 1st year of 10635 ROBOTICS ENGINEERING (LM-32) GENOVA

SCIENTIFIC DISCIPLINARY SECTOR
ING-INF/05
LANGUAGE
English
TEACHING LOCATION
GENOVA (Computer Engineering)
semester
1° Semester
Teaching materials

OVERVIEW

Software Architectures for Robotics (SofAR) is a novel and highly experimental field involving research and development activities aimed at providing scholars and professionals with conceptual tools and practical knowledge about how to design and implement complex software architectures for real-world robots. The course covers a few basics in high-end software development and focuses on real-world scenarios, e.g., companion robots for in-home assistance, or collaborative robots in factories.

AIMS AND CONTENT

LEARNING OUTCOMES

A robot is a multi-purpose, multi-form and multifunction machine. It exhibits completely new and unique characteristics with respect to what it is for, how it is structured and what it is able to do. In order to cope with this diversity in form and function, software architectures for robots must be grounded on top of a model enforcing flexibility and efficiency well beyond those developed in other domain applications.

AIMS AND LEARNING OUTCOMES

The main objective of Software Architectures for Robotics (SofAR) is to provide students and scholars with methodological tools and practical information about how to design and develop complex software architectures for robots able to operate in real-world conditions.

Robots are becoming complex systems made up of modules and components which behavior is complex in its own right, i.e., not all consequences of certain design choices can be easily predicted in advance. Given a specific scenario where a robot must operate autonomously and effectively, the problem of defining a software architecture requires:

  1. to define which sensor information is needed and how it must be processed;
  2. to couple sensor information and internal representation structures, which are appropriate in terms of efficiency, computational load, and usability;
  3. to design and develop algorithms to operate on such representation structures;
  4. to embed those algorithms in software modules and components, which must be concurrently executed on (typically real‐time) operating systems.

SofAR will provide a reasoned treatment of current state‐of‐the‐art design approaches, development software frameworks (specifically, ROS will be considered), modeling tools and advanced research trends in this field, as well as a comprehensive discussion about typical scenarios, solutions, and use cases.

PREREQUISITES

An advanced knowledge of C/C++ is required. A basic knowledge of Java maybe helpful in certain situations.

Teaching methods

SofAR is organized in four key topics. Each key topic is made up of theoretical lectures followed by practice classes, usually amounting to a comparable number of hours. Students are strongly encouraged to propose novel solutions to specific practical problems, which originate from real-world research challenges or industrial needs.

Every year, SofAR hosts the so-call SofAR seminars, with lecturers addressing specific issues or providing a unique perspective on novel problems.

SYLLABUS/CONTENT

Each year, the SofAR team tries at best to update the course given new trends and findings. This means that every year the course is slightly different. SofAR mixes up theoretical insights with practice classes centered around the widely adopted ROS framework. SofAR is usually centered around four key topics.

TOPIC 1: Introduction and motivations:

  1. Introduction to the course
  2. The robot software design process: requirements and challenges

TOPIC 2: The component-based software engineering (CBSE) methodology: 

  1. Introduction to CSBE: needs and advantages.
  2. Six well-known design patterns in Robotics
  3. Design patterns for behavior-based robots
  4. Three patterns to enable autonomous robot behaviors
  5. Design patterns for human-robot interaction

Practice classes focused on TOPIC 2.

TOPIC 3: Bio-inspired approaches to the development of software architectures for robots:

  1. Reactive and behavior-based control
  2. Subsumption architectures
  3. Behavior-based architectures

Practice classes focused on TOPIC 3.

TOPIC 4: Knowledge representation and reasoning:

  1. Knowledge representation techniques
  2. Reasoning and STRIPS-based planning, and how to integrate it
  3. ROSPlan: planning in ROS
  4. Using classical planners for tasks with continuous operators in robot tasks
  5. Combined task and motion planning

Practice classes focused on TOPIC 4.

RECOMMENDED READING/BIBLIOGRAPHY

Relevant material will be given by the teacher during lectures.

TEACHERS AND EXAM BOARD

Ricevimento: The teacher is available as per meeting request by email at: his office on the second floor of the "E" building, Via Opera Pia 13, 16145, Genoa, the EMAROlab, Via Causa 18, 16145, Genoa.

Exam Board

FULVIO MASTROGIOVANNI (President)

RENATO UGO RAFFAELE ZACCARIA

LESSONS

Teaching methods

SofAR is organized in four key topics. Each key topic is made up of theoretical lectures followed by practice classes, usually amounting to a comparable number of hours. Students are strongly encouraged to propose novel solutions to specific practical problems, which originate from real-world research challenges or industrial needs.

Every year, SofAR hosts the so-call SofAR seminars, with lecturers addressing specific issues or providing a unique perspective on novel problems.

EXAMS

Exam description

The SofAR final mark is based solely on assignments. Assignments work as follows:

  • at the beginning of October, a number of assignments are proposed;
  • students, self-organized in groups of 2/3 people, bid on assignments; each group is required to express 3 ordered preferences;
  • we'll try to satisfy the preferences at best and allocate assignments to groups accordingly;
  • at that point, work on assignments can start.

Please note that:

  • EMARO+ students have a strict deadline to complete their assignment, which is usually end of February;
  • Computer Science Engineering students can take as much time as they want because they adhere to Italian rules only;
  • Ph.D. students following the course can propose a topic on their own, agreed with me, as an assignment, and do not have any specific deadline.

Properly carrying out an assignment means providing:

  • a (possibly working, maybe with limitations) solution to the given problem;
  • properly commented code (in a specific format) and, where appropriate, a tutorial;
  • a video showing how the system works. 

Assessment methods

Assignments will be evaluated on the basis of:

  • the exhibited group's capability in applying the notions and insights discussed in the class;
  • the "quality" of the provided documentation;
  • the outcome of a discussion about the assignment.

Exam schedule

Date Time Location Type Notes
18/09/2020 09:00 GENOVA Esame su appuntamento

FURTHER INFORMATION

Follow-ups:

  • for successful assignments, we typically encourage students to co-author a scientific paper for Robotics-related conferences;
  • for EMARO+ students, a few assignments can be continued as group projects;
  • for Computer Science Engineering students, assignments can be continued as MSc theses.