National Instruments is releasing LabVIEW Robotics 2009, a new version of its graphical system design software that provides a standard development platform for designing robotic and autonomous control systems. NI LabVIEW Robotics 2009 benefits from an extensive robotics library with connectivity to standard robotic sensors and actuators, foundational algorithms for intelligent operations and perception and motion functions for robots and autonomous vehicles. With this new software, NI says engineers can implement ideas faster with seamless deployment to real-time embedded and field-programmable gate array (FPGA) hardware, and can maximise the software flexibility through integration with a variety of processing platforms, third-party software tools and prebuilt robot platforms.
Dr Dave Barrett, professor at Olin College and former vice president of engineering at iRobot Corporation, comments: "When building a new robot, one must typically start from scratch. With no software standard, there is very little opportunity for code reuse or sharing. We need an industrial-grade, hardened, richly supported software development system to build autonomous, mobile robots that can sense, think and act in the world around them. I have spent 15 years trying to come up with the best robotics programming language, and LabVIEW has accomplished that."
Because of its open graphical system design platform, LabVIEW Robotics 2009 can import code from other languages including C/C++, .m files and VHDL, and communicate with a wide variety of sensors using built-in drivers for everything from LIDAR, IR, sonar and GPS devices to dramatically reduce development time, allowing engineers and scientists to focus on adding their own algorithms and intelligence. In addition, the software includes new robotics IP capable of easy implementation to real-time and embedded hardware for obstacle avoidance, inverse kinematics and search algorithms to help an autonomous system or robot plan an optimal path.
Embedded mechatronics design platform
John Pasquarette, vice president of product marketing for software at National Instruments, states: "The LabVIEW graphical and textual language has evolved dramatically in the past 23 years. Initially developed as a data acquisition and instrument control tool for automated test, LabVIEW has grown into a powerful embedded mechatronics design platform. Engineers and scientists now can design sophisticated control systems and quickly deploy their applications to real-time embedded hardware from a single environment."
LabVIEW Robotics 2009 is suitable for designing and prototyping applications including the following:
- Autonomous and semi-autonomous ground vehicles
- Robot rescue platforms
- Personal and service robots
- Medical robotic devices
- Academic and research robots
- Agricultural and mining systems
When combined with NI CompactRIO or NI Single-Board RIO devices, LabVIEW Robotics 2009 provides a complete development platform for designing robotic control systems. The reconfigurable I/O (RIO) architecture incorporates a real-time processor, an FPGA and a wide range of I/O, including analogue, digital, motion and communications. By combining off-the-shelf sensors with a CompactRIO or NI Single-Board RIO embedded system, engineers can rapidly design and prototype complex robotic applications.
Readers can explore a collection of robotics tutorials, webcasts, videos and case studies about using NI hardware and software by downloading the 'Robotics 101 Resource Kit' at www.ni.com. For additional information on LabVIEW Robotics 2009, go to www.ni.com/robotics.