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News

Distributed embedded systems for complex automation and robotics

Synapticon : 12 November, 2012  (New Product)
Distributed real-time embedded systems was once used exclusively for complex, autonomous system development (cyber-physical systems) in research, aerospace and the defence industry. With Dynarc, Synapticon is now offering a platform which provides all development tools and standardised electronics modules for the design of distributed real-time systems. The platform has particular potential for companies and teams of developers working on complex automation and robotics applications who are stretching the limits of conventional architectures in terms of technology, system complexity or costs.
Distributed embedded systems for complex automation and robotics

Dynarc users have access to hardware modules for distributed data acquisition and direct sensor and actuator control, to a wide range of open source software components, and to a high-performance development environment for model-based engineering. Dynaqrc provides a simple and easy way to integrate modular sensor and actuator control systems with processor units into high-performance networks. Central, resource-intensive PC units for monitoring and control are no longer needed. The use of standardised electronics modules and open source software components reduces costs and increases flexibility, facilitating the design of lean control systems for complex automation and robotics applications in particular. For the user, this means more efficient development processes and innovative, high-performance end products.

Distribution equals lean, modularisation equals cost reduction

The conventional procedure of selecting systems for integration from a wide range makes development processes difficult and affects the performance of the end products.The conventional procedure of selecting systems for integration from a wide range makes development processes difficult and affects the performance of the end products.

Distributed embedded systems do not use central control and monitoring computers; these functions are instead provided by networked electronics modules at the sensors and actuators. Designing and programming such real-time applications has become much simpler thanks to the innovative Dynarc platform from Synapticon. The modules are put together by function from a set of standardised interface, processor and communication units, and the complete system comprising all of these nodes is configured and programmed in a standard development environment. Electronics and software modularisation and the standard development environment enable far more rapid and stable development than has been possible to date with conventional architectures, which involve central computer units and the extremely complex integration of heterogeneous hardware and software components.

Structured development process with integrated tool chain

The Dynarc platform from Synapticon provides integrated components and tool chains for developing innovative distributed real-time and control systems, whilst retaining compatibility with industry standards.The Dynarc platform from Synapticon provides integrated components and tool chains for developing innovative distributed real-time and control systems, whilst retaining compatibility with industry standards.

In a graphical editor, Dynarc users first specify the target system to be controlled - specifications for robots would, for example, include the degrees of freedom and the kinetic properties of each joint as well as the whole robot. Motors and sensors and their control requirements are then defined on this basis in a hardware model. This way, the establishment of any network design and modular combination of the individual modules of power electronics and sensor interface systems, various XMOS-based processor modules and communications units for the chosen bus system is simplified a lot.

EtherCAT, CAN bus, Ethernet, WiFi and processor bus via LVDS are available to be selected as communication medium for the whole target system or subsections of it. Analogue and digital sensor interfaces as well as driver electronics for brushed and brushless DC motors are available for direct integration of distributed system intelligence and the sensor/actuator level. The Dynarc platform immediately and automatically selects and integrates the required open source driver libraries when the electronics modules are put together in the development environment.

Software engineering using Synapticon's OBLAC development environment is model-based and operating system independent. OBLAC itself is available as a Web application to all developers everywhere at all times - no installation needed. It has interfaces to application-specific frameworks such as ROS, tools such as MATLAB and formats such as COLLADA to facilitate integration into existing development processes.

"Our developments in the field of cyber-physical systems and service robotics demonstrate that distributed embedded systems can enable the design of innovative, high-performance complete systems which are superior to central architectures in this area, and are required by trends such as Industry 4.0. Dynarc is aimed at simplifying the development, design and testing of such systems through the use of hardware module and advanced engineering tools. This reduces project times, costs and the error rate for end products in the automation and robotics sector", says Nikolai Ensslen, General Manager of Synapticon, outlining the system objective. 

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