[ros-users] [Discourse.ros.org] [ROS-Industrial] Multiple robots in one controller

Jeremy Zoss ros.discourse at gmail.com
Wed May 16 17:49:24 UTC 2018

Sorry that I'm late to this discussion.

Handling multi-robot controllers was one of the design goals when we drafted the design for "Version 2.0" of the ROS-I interface ([REP-I0001](https://github.com/ros-industrial/rep/blob/master/rep-I0001.rst)).

In particular, this interface allows sending/receiving messages with multiple "motion groups" inside them.  Each motion group has an associated "group ID" that is used to associate a set of named joints (ROS-side) with a numbered group of joints on the robot side.  Multi-robot controllers often represent the individual robots as separate "motion groups", and the group-ID can be directly associated with each of these motion groups.  Group-ID can also be used in some cases to control external axes (such as positioners), without application-specific modifications to the robot-side ROS-I driver.

The definition of this interface is flexible enough to allow for many different scenarios, including sync/async control of multiple arms or planning from 1 or more different ROS-side motion planners.  Control can be switched between these modes as needed.

Although we have defined the REP, adoption into the main ROS-I repos has been slow.  I have updated the [industrial_robot_client](https://github.com/ros-industrial/industrial_experimental/tree/indigo-devel/IRC_v2) library/nodes on the ROS side to support the new protocols.  There is also an updated Fanuc driver, but I don't know that it has been released publicly yet.  I don't know that these "v2.0" protocols have been used anywhere else.

I have successfully used this updated driver for control of a multi-arm Fanuc workcell with a positioner, and things worked well.  But that's a relatively limited use-case, so the code and protocols could certainly benefit from wider testing/usage.

Let me know if you have questions or want to discuss further!

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