PickNik Robotics, a robotics software and engineering services company which has won a contract with NASA, has released additional details about its MoveIt Studio software platform and the made the beta version of the product available.
PickNik says MoveIt Studio provides “state-of-the-art motion planning software” with an intuitive user interface that now makes it easy for robot operators to remotely manage complex robotic arms that require supervised autonomy.
In space missions, for example, robotic arms are used to repair satellites and augment astronauts inside space stations, and will also be used to build the future Moon base.
The challenge is that fully autonomous robotic arms are not yet possible, nor does mission control want them to be.
Most applications of robotic arms, outside of factories, still require a human in the loop to provide remote high-level commands, monitoring and support for when the robot gets stuck.
Already being used by NASA and others, MoveIt Studio enables robot operators to specify complex sequences of motions for robots (for example, Robonaut 2) in unstructured environments such as the International Space Station or the future Lunar Gateway.
In June 2021, PickNik was awarded an SBIR Phase II from NASA for robot arm motion planning in microgravity environments.
MoveIt Studio can also be used for subsea, defense and security, construction and home uses.
Dave Coleman, CEO of PickNik Robotics, says: “MoveIt Studio enables the best of humans and robots combined.
“We anticipate this software platform to have a huge impact on the space industry and other unstructured environments.”
PickNik says MoveIt Studio’s benefits include:
- Train operators faster. More intuitive and automated control interfaces reduce the need for highly trained operators and related costs. It also reduces cognitive load on operators.
- Reduce research and development costs. MoveIt Studio leverages cutting edge approaches developed over the years for some of the best robotics companies in the world.
- Complete projects faster. Robotic projects can get to market quicker with this pre-built platform.
- Reduce latency. Operators can command robots from long distances by sending brief, high level user instructions that encode a highly reactive, rich command set.
- Improve safety. Reduce the need for humans in dangerous environments by expanding robot capabilities.
- Increase accuracy. Perform precise operations by relying on highly tuned, reactive algorithms rather than humans looking at 2D video feeds and picking joint angles.
PickNik Robotics also leads the development of the open source MoveIt project, a widely used robotic motion planning framework within the Robot Operating System (ROS).
MoveIt is used heavily by companies and academics to enable robotic arms to interact and manipulate objects.
It is now used worldwide in hundreds of robots, including projects by Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Fetch, Kinova and Franka Emika.
MoveIt Studio extends MoveIt to give robot technicians access to the advanced algorithmic capabilities provided by MoveIt with an accessible user interface.
PickNik Robotics says it is actively working with several early customers to fine-tune the MoveIt Studio software platform.