SOA applied to Robotics
We begin a new series of articles in which we will illustrate the enormous potential of the SOA strategy in all sectors. Rather than saying it, is seeing it. And although you will see that SOA principles are not always applied in a deep and complete way, I hope to be able to demonstrate with a few examples the transformative capacity of SOA applied to different areas.
In this blog we have already used the human body as an example of SOA and EDA in the real world, and we have presented how the resulting information ecosystems acquired business intelligence capabilities thanks to the use of this paradigm as a strategic design approach.
At that time he hardly mentioned the possibility that the SOA principles were being applied to Robotics.
Well, today I bring you not one, not two, but three real examples on this subject.
SOA, the future of Robotics.
The first example on SOA applied to Robotics, is found in Robot Magazine, which in this article in February 2011 presents SOA as the future of Robotics. It tells us how the two systems that lead the sector, MRDS and ROS, stand up and hold onto some of the SOA principles. It is curious to read at the beginning of the article how they introduce the issue, establishing the parallelism between how our brain works, and how we should design our robots.
If you take a look at the article you will see how both systems (MRDS and ROS) seem to be programmed from scratch, or almost. That is, they do not seem to use any existing middleware or ESB platform in the market, neither under license nor open source, much less a more complete SOA infrastructure.
In addition, at some point they establish an identity between SOA and Web Services … there they are wrong, but as we have said many times not to blame them, since this is a widespread error for many years on SOA, that has a lot to do with their early years.
However, it is very encouraging to see how the main SOA principles are taken into account in both systems, and the last part of the article highlights the advantages of low coupling, reuse and high fault tolerance of the entire ecosystem.
Robot as a Service.
The second example is a research paper published at the 5th International Symposium on Service Oriented Systems Engineering (IEEE) in 2010. The paper focuses on the application of SOA to robotics and presents the concept “Robot as A Service”, or RaaS.
Going back to our second example, as you can see, it is an in-depth and comprehensive study of a robotics services architecture offered in the cloud, maximizing the reuse of all SOA capabilities. Not only do you get its many benefits in one instance of the robotics business, but it offers the decoupled, abstract and reusable solution for any instance of the same business.
This is something we mentioned when we came up with the concept of Business as a Service, BaaS.
A Service Oriented Architecture for Robotic Platforms.
The third example of SOA applied to Robotics is nothing less than a doctoral thesis in Computer Science Philosophy for the University of Massachusetts Lowell, Paul D. Hestand, in 2011.
It is entitled “A Service Oriented Architecture for Robotic Platforms”. It presents the bases of SOA as a paradigm of architecture design of integrated systems with low coupling and needs of information in real time. It traverses the numerous previous approaches to the architecture of the systems used in Robotics, and presents a methodology and metrics to apply SOA in this area, showing the advantages and improvements that it brings in contrast with the other approaches.
But beyond the details of the work, from my point of view as interesting as complete and profound, I want to emphasize once again the fact that SOA, its design principles, and the conceptual and operational architectural paradigm it offers, is an ideal, advanced and viable solution for a technological field as advanced and specialized as Robotics, with the immense projection it has for the future, and the high demands of precision, reliability, efficiency, scalability and fault tolerance that it requires.
All these works would gain a lot, in my opinion, if they accentuate even more efforts at higher levels of abstraction: information flows (business processes), and intelligent management of complex events (CEP).
I am sure that we will continue finding examples, in both the most obvious and the most unexpected sectors, of how SOA and its principles as ICT strategy, together with EDA and BPM, represents a significant advance in the design of scalable and sustainable ecosystems, based on the agile and reliable exchange of information in real time.