- Control System Design Schemata and their Application in Off-road Robotics (2010)
- In robotics, information is often regarded as a means to an end. The question of how to structure information and how to bridge the semantic gap between different levels of abstraction in a uniform way is still widely regarded as a technical issue. Ignoring these challenges appears to lead robotics into a similar stasis as experienced in the software industry of the late 1960s. From the beginning of the software crisis until today, numerous methods, techniques, and tools for managing the increasing complexity of software systems have evolved. The attempt to transfer several of these ideas towards applications in robotics yielded various control architectures, frameworks, and process models. These attempts mainly provide modularisation schemata which suggest how to decompose a complex system into less complex subsystems. The schematisation of representation and information ﬂow however is mostly ignored. In this work, a set of design schemata is proposed which is embedded into an action/perception-oriented design methodology to promote thorough abstractions between distinct levels of control. Action-oriented design decomposes control systems top-down and sensor data is extracted from the environment as required. This comes with the problem that information is often condensed in a premature fashion. That way, sensor processing is dependent on the control system design resulting in a monolithical system structure with limited options for reusability. In contrast, perception-oriented design constructs control systems bottom-up starting with the extraction of environment information from sensor data. The extracted entities are placed into structures which evolve with the development of the sensor processing algorithms. In consequence, the control system is strictly dependent on the sensor processing algorithms which again results in a monolithic system. In their particular domain, both design approaches have great advantages but fail to create inherently modular systems. The design approach proposed in this work combines the strengths of action orientation and perception orientation into one coherent methodology without inheriting their weaknesses. More precisely, design schemata for representation, translation, and fusion of environmental information are developed which establish thorough abstraction mechanisms between components. The explicit introduction of abstractions particularly supports extensibility and scalability of robot control systems by design.