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An environment for open real-time control of an industrial robotic cell is presented in this paper. The experimental setup is composed of two industrial robot manipulators equipped with force/torque sensors and pneumatic grippers, a vision system and a belt conveyor. The original industrial robot controllers have been replaced by a single PC with software running under a real-time variant of the Linux operative system. The new control environment allows advanced control schemes to be developed and tested for the single robots and for the dual-arm robotic cell, including force control and visual servoing tasks. An advanced user interface and a simulation environment have been developed, which permit fast, safe and reliable prototyping of planning and control algorithms.