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Impact of fieldbus on communication in robotic systems

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3 Author(s)
Cavalieri, S. ; Istituto di Inf. e Telecommun., Catania Univ., Italy ; Di Stefano, A. ; Mirabella, O.

The aim of this paper is to discuss the problems relating to communication in distributed process control, highlighting the limits of traditional centralized communication systems based on point-to-point connections. The paper shows the real advantages that can be obtained by using a distributed common-bus communication system in time-critical process control applications, highlighting its impact on the architecture of control systems from the point of view of both hardware and software. Particular reference is made to the International Electrotechnical Commission/Instrument Society of America (IEC/ISA) communication system which is close to becoming an international standard. In particular, the solution based on the use of the distributed common-bus communication protocol is applied to the control of an orange-picking robot, which had previously been implemented in a traditional way using point-to-point communications. The choice of a case study referring to a robot control system seems an appropriate benchmark for the real potential of the fieldbus because the processes involved in a robot control system have highly critical time constraints which may stress the fieldbus communication system. The paper presents a qualitative analysis of the advantages that can be obtained by introducing the fieldbus into the orange picking robot control system. The analysis gives a detailed illustration of the hardware and software modification needed to replace the traditional point-to-point control systems of the orange picking robot with the fieldbus. Then an evaluation of the performance of fieldbus system is provided. The evaluation is made by modeling and simulating the distributed communication system with transition timed Petri nets (TTPNs). The results obtained in the study as a whole confirm the authors' conviction that, by careful analysis, it is possible and advantageous even in difficult cases to replace classical centralized point-to-point control systems with distributed systems based on use of the fieldbus

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Robotics and Automation, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:13 ,  Issue: 1 )