PEAMS AGV interoperability demonstration day 2023: unique collaboration in action
In the spring of 2021, FIMA1 partners launched a collaborative research project called Platform Economy of Autonomous Mobile Machines Software Development, PEAMS. The project focuses on utilising sustainable open-source software for autonomous machines and takes on several aspects of open interfaces: the business models emerging from ecosystems, the maturity and readiness of open-source software tools, and the control of AGVs with a multivendor technology platform.
There were two main goals set for the PEAMS project. Firstly, to demonstrate the interoperability of ROS2-based open-source software components in AGVs. And secondly, to demonstrate the interoperability of two different types of AGV system controls and multivendor AGV fleet, supporting the VDA5050 open architecture standard (a standard for communication between fleets of AGVs and a central system control).
The demonstration was arranged on the 11th and 12th of January 2023 in the Demo Center at Mitsubishi Logisnext Europe Oy in Järvenpää, Finland. The demo was built together by the research partners Navitec Systems, GIM Robotics, Exertus, Atostek, Helsinki University, Tampere University, and Mitsubishi Logisnext Europe Oy.
“The demo proved that full-scale indoor logistics can work seamlessly with two different types of AGVs under two separate fleet management systems. Also, it showed clear proof of the value of ROS2 and, more importantly – the value of Finnish cooperation,” says GIM Robotics.
Many leading companies in the industry have widely adopted Robot Operating System (ROS2) to facilitate collaboration and rapid and agile development. ROS is a set of software libraries and tools for building robot applications. In a multivendor platform, hardware and software components can be interchangeable, or their function in the system can vary over time or based on the application at hand. In the PEAMS research project, standard software interfaces provided by ROS2 are utilised for communicating with various in-house software by the development partners. The open standards make the integration transparent and smooth; the open-source drivers can be used for different hardware instead of having to program those from scratch. Moreover, the existing features of the ROS2 components can be easily deployed in new applications.
“The proof of concept and smooth interoperability of various technologies were presented during the demo, and we believe the success of this project sets the ground for future development and promising benefits for the automation industry,” comments Navitec Systems.
From a technical perspective, the key results presented in the PEAMS demo were the following:
- A global 3D LIDAR & IMU based SLAM navigation, sensor fusion and vehicle control integrated from existing, previously incompatible components by four different companies, using ROS2 as middleware and communications platform.
- An interchangeable Mitsubishi Logisnext’s FleetController and a Navitec System’s Navithor fleet control controlling a multi-vendor fleet of Rocla AGV’s ROS2-based Automated Reach Truck ART prototype and K-Hartwall’s A-Mate AMR using VDA5050 interoperability standard.
ROS2 and VDA5050 interoperability platforms and standards reduce the risks and uncertainties derived from critical supplier dependencies and vendor locks.
“The autonomous indoor logistics demonstration on the demonstration day was a great example of a unique collaboration. The PEAMS project has provided valuable experience for a future in-vehicle technology platform, such as the access to compatible ready-to-use software and hardware modules with standardised interfaces supported by a wide, diverse, and expanding open-source development community and the utilisation of the best practices and features from multiple users and organisations,” remarks Mitsubishi Logisnext Europe Oy.
Mitsubishi Logisnext Europe Oy
Mitsubishi Logisnext Europe Oy is a technology-driven designer and manufacturer of a wide range of logistic solutions and services. Logisnext Solutions’ AGV operations are known as Rocla AGV Solutions and operate globally with 40+ years of experience.
We proudly participated in the research and facilitated the live demonstration, where the outcomes were shown in action. The project enabled us to work on and develop several additional features, such as access to compatible ready-to-use Software and hardware modules with standardised interfaces. The integration of 3rd party AGVs and AMRs to customer systems using FleetController, and the support of the VDA5050 interoperability standard are topics we will continue to advance.
Navitec Systems has been pleased to be a major contributor to the PEAMS project. As a worldwide operating company for AGV navigation, positioning, and fleet control, we are always enthusiastic about cutting-edge technologies. Navitrol AGV controller and Navithor fleet control were integrated with solutions from other partners and AGV manufacturers with ROS2 and VDA 5050 interfaces.
GIM Robotics, 3D environmental modelling, localisation, and situational awareness expert, has been proud to participate in the PEAMS project.
It has been rewarding to see how easy it is to combine our 3D localisation product (GIM-Locator) with other partners’ machine control solutions and Fleet management systems (FMS). Having been using the original ROS since the beginning, mostly on challenging outdoor use cases, the PEAMS project enabled our speedy transition to ROS2 and the full-scale indoor logistics demo with two different types of AGVs working seamlessly under two separate FMS.
Atostek, a software engineering company, has been happy to participate in the PEAMS project. The demonstration also showed the interoperability of Atostek’s Flexbot robot software framework with other ROS2 components. Flexbot allows software designers to build a ROS2-based system in a managed and documented manner, and also apply memory-safe real-time programming in Rust.
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1Forum for Intelligent Machines ry, FIMA is an industry-driven association for identifying and coordinating R&D needs of Finnish players in the field of mobile machinery.