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Dialog with an Uncertain Future / Excerp (Irregular updates)

RSi Robot Map (for academic research)

RSiCameraRobot :AppStore

RSi's booth at the International Robot Exhibition 2011:

The 57th Installment“Internet and Robot Technology”

by Masahiko Narita,
Professor, Master Program of Information Systems Architecture

Internet and Robot Technology

The integration of the real world and the world of the Internet and cloud computing has attracted a great deal of attention. In this article, I would like to introduce the activities of the Robot Services Initiative (RSi:, where I have been involved in the development of specifications as one of the founding members of the current research team and project.

As for software platforms in the field of robotics, Robot Technology Middleware (RTM) had been developed in Japan in 2004 from the Intelligent Robot Technology Software Project, in addition to platforms developed overseas, such as OpenRoad, Ubiquitous Robotic Companion, and iRobot ConnectR. Most of the software primarily allows hardware connections for robots and robot parts. On the other hand, the RSi is a project promoted by a group of Japanese companies that was established around the same time in 2004 to promote improvement of the software base for robot services with a focus on robot services utilizing the Internet. Subsequently, web services connecting the real world and the Web, such as the Web of Things, Pachube, and Cyber-Physical Systems, started to draw attention, and recently, the American company Willow Garage introduced the ROS (Robot Operating System) and collaboration with Google's cloud system, which were preceded by the activities of RSi.

As one of the few remaining competitive fields for Japan, vast sums of money have been invested into robotic technology, but the main focus of development has been on hardware. In addition, it is costly to develop applications because the specifications for robots vary depending on the company; moreover, the problem remains that the software base is insufficient with few accumulated applications.

To contribute to solving those problems, RSi aims to develop specifications for a common software base known as the Robot Service Network Protocol (RSNP) for robot services that deliver interoperability and demonstrations of effectiveness, as well as to encourage the spread of robot services. As of June 2011, RSi had 19 members: robot companies such as Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Fujitsu, Toshiba, and Yasukawa Electric; the Japan Weather Association, a provider of information services; the Advanced Institute of Industrial Technology, a university; and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), a research institution. Since 2004, RSi has been conducting demonstration experiments using RSNP version 2.3 and the RSNP library for Java from the common base with many off-the-shelf commercial robots.

RSNP is highly integrated with the Internet and can be applied to a diverse range of robots and services. The software is designed to interconnect multiple implementations that provide information and directions promptly to robots with a limited number of operating personnel and computational resources using push technology. At the same time, the software handles images and sensor information and links to various robot platforms for autonomous operation and remote interrupt control of robot services.

On the other hand, in the wake of the disasters in 2011 and the following nuclear power plant disaster, the delay in the injection of domestic robots has been criticized. Although it requires establishing a market to expand robot technology and the industry in Japan, efforts are being made to broaden the base so that a wider range of researchers and developers can enter the field for the further development of robot applications and services that had been limited to robotics researchers.

To realize the goal, we have been working hand-in-hand with Professor Kato and Assistant professor Tsuchiya to develop and publish a website for researchers to accumulate robot services. We have successfully developed micro service technology and an iPhone application called RSiCameraRobot to allow others to experience the RSNP, which is available from the App Store. Additionally, under the concept that the application for large robots developed as a part of the Professor Kato's PBL project can be used to make a prototype of an application for small robots, RSi exhibited and demonstrated the application at the International Robot Exhibition 2011 in November. The application is also entered in the RTM contest hosted by the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology as one of the PBL projects.
(Contest website:

The integration of the Internet and robot service technologies is a new field that gives technical IT experts a chance to actively participate in the field through the distribution, use, and development of applications for global deployment. Also, it is easy to promote collaborative development with the business world. For that reason, the development is moving in a favorable direction from an educational point of view for advanced professional engineers.
In the future, we are aiming to contribute to Japan's robot industry through tie-ups with companies and universities participating in the RSi project for activities that will further broaden the base and additionally feedback information to the software field.

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  • The 58th Installment

    The 50th Year of Creating Myself

    by Hideki Murakoshi,
    Professor, Master Program of Innovation for design and Engineering
  • The 57th Installment

    “Internet and Robot Technology”

    by Masahiko Narita,
    Professor, Master Program of Information Systems Architecture
  • The 56th Installment

    “Application of sports team strategies in PBL”

    by Toshiyuki Murao,
    Assistant Professor, Master Program of Innovation for Design and Engineering