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National Instruments and MobileRobots Inc. Collaborate on Robot Foundation Technologies
National Instruments and MobileRobots Inc. partner to speed the development of mobile, service robots.
By Robotics Trends Staff - Filed Jul 01, 2009
More Design and Development stories
National Instruments, a developer of products that assist in the design, prototype and deployment of systems for measurement, automation and embedded applications, partners with MobileRobots, a producer of robot platforms and foundation technology for mobile robots, to deliver solutions that can speed cost-effective service robots to market.



National Instruments (Nasdaq: NATI) today announced a collaboration that combines the ease of use and flexibility of NI LabVIEW graphical system design software and MobileRobots Inc’s MOBILEROBOTSindoors autonomous mobile platforms to help engineers rapidly deploy service robot applications. Engineers working on robotics applications often are challenged to assemble a solution from the myriad of software and hardware tools that offer niche functionality and limited or no integration with other platforms. The collaboration between National Instruments and MobileRobots Inc gives engineers a seamlessly integrated robotics development platform based on proven and robust technologies.

“The rapid growth of robotics applications has led to a fragmented landscape of niche software and hardware, and the future growth of these applications is dependent on the identification of a common architecture that can deliver robust functionality and open integration with other platforms,” said John Pasquarette, vice president of product marketing for software at National Instruments. “Collaborations like the one between National Instruments and MobileRobots Inc are a clear demonstration of how LabVIEW can provide that common architecture to help engineers simplify robotic design as well as integrate with other platforms for increased functionality.”

MOBILEROBOTSindoors is a general-purpose platform that helps non-programmers quickly customize and install autonomous robots for applications such as couriers, guides, kiosks and inspectors. The robots also offer easy interoperability with third-party vendor solutions. MOBILEROBOTSindoors technology is the basis for numerous robotics companies’ autonomous robotics solutions, and robots using this technology drive millions of kilometers each year in factories, hospitals and offices in the United States, Europe and Asia.

LabVIEW delivers a sophisticated and robust graphical programming environment that makes it easy to add accessories, including manipulators, sensors and other task-specific components, to robots with MOBILEROBOTSindoors technology and to rapidly integrate these robots or robot fleets into an automation environment such as factories, clinical labs or facility security systems. LabVIEW simplifies application development by abstracting the underlying code, making it ideal for robotics engineers, who often have experience with mechanical or electrical engineering but limited or no software programming knowledge. With more than 20 years of NI R&D investment, LabVIEW also delivers powerful features that make it easy to add custom and advanced functionalities. The performance, ease of use and flexibility of LabVIEW have resulted in the software’s adoption in numerous applications, from robot-assisted laparoscopic surgery to spider robots used in lifesaving rescue missions.

The seamless integration between LabVIEW and MOBILEROBOTSindoors is made possible by a set of LabVIEW VIs, which are available at http://www.ni.com. Using MobileRobots Inc’s TCP/IP-based protocol, engineers can connect to MobileRobots platforms and program them with LabVIEW to add custom capabilities such as speed and directional changes. Engineers also can use the VIs to take advantage of the Mobile SimBank at the MobileRobots headquarters to remotely test their simulations for both single robot designs and more complex fleet applications to reduce disruption when the robots are installed in a factory or other location.

“Engineers use MOBILEROBOTSindoors autonomy to keep from re-inventing the wheel and to jump-start solutions with tested foundation technology,” said MobileRobots Inc CEO and Cofounder Jeanne Dietsch, who will be speaking at the NIWeek 2009 Robotics Summit. “The combination of MOBILEROBOTSindoors and LabVIEW provides the industry with a complete set of core components and tools for quickly creating robotics applications. They also form the first general-purpose system designed to run robotics solutions from multiple vendors. The NI and MobileRobots Inc collaboration will benefit the service robot industry by slashing R&D costs for the vendor, lowering equipment costs for end users and making the return on investment from automation even greater.”

In addition to software customization, the collaboration between the two companies makes it possible for engineers to add NI hardware such as NI CompactRIO, NI Single-Board RIO and NI Smart Cameras to MobileRobots intelligent mobile bases and autonomous navigation systems. Using NI hardware with the robots, engineers can add more complex manipulators and stereo vision.

Readers can visit http://www.ni.com/robotics to learn more about how LabVIEW is used in robotics applications. Readers also can see Dietsch speak about the future of robotics at NIWeek 2009, the world’s largest graphical system design conference and exhibition, August 4-6 in Austin, Texas, by registering at http://www.ni.com/niweek.

About National Instruments
National Instruments (http://www.ni.com) is transforming the way engineers and scientists design, prototype and deploy systems for measurement, automation and embedded applications. NI empowers customers with off-the-shelf software such as NI LabVIEW and modular cost-effective hardware, and sells to a broad base of more than 30,000 different companies worldwide, with no one customer representing more than 3 percent of revenue and no one industry representing more than 15 percent of revenue. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, NI has more than 5,000 employees and direct operations in more than 40 countries. For the past 10 years, FORTUNE magazine has named NI one of the 100 best companies to work for in America. Readers can obtain investment information from the company’s investor relations department by calling (512) 683-5090, e-mailing or visiting http://www.ni.com/nati.

About MobileRobots Inc.
MobileRobots Inc. (http://www.mobilerobots.com) has been making their customers’ jobs easier for fourteen years with thousands of robot platforms and autonomous foundations for robot solutions worldwide. MobileRobots Inc helped jumpstart the growth of university robotics programs by providing the first affordable, general-purpose robot base, the Pioneer DX, introduced in 1995. Now MobileRobots Inc helps the manufacturing and service robot industries build reliable, flexible, cost-effective autonomous robot solutions. MobileRobots Inc operates from a 35,000 sq ft facility in Amherst, NH, 50 minutes north of Boston, with full RD, production, testing, administration and support facilities.

CompactRIO, LabVIEW, National Instruments, NI, ni.com and NIWeek are trademarks of National Instruments. Other product and company names listed are trademarks or trade names of their respective companies. 

Editor Contact
Hilary Marchbanks
P:  512-683-5937

Reader Contact
Ernest Martinez
P:  800-258-7022


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