Dr Ben Mitchinson who focuses on the sensing, motor control and navigation aspects of MiRo talks about the software update and the latest from the CqR Lab team.
Greetings from the Lab!
Since MIRO was launched into the market place, the team at Consequential Labs has been working tirelessly (well…) to keep the software updated, ironing out bugs as they have been reported and adding a little additional functionality here and there. This process has generated five re-releases of the MIRO Developer Kit (MDK) this year — the most recent, in October, wraps up all the changes to date so that now is probably a good time to update the software on your MIRO, if you haven’t already. This update (known as “171012” for the date on which it was born) is for demonstrators and simulator users, as well as robot developers, since we’ve made improvements to the demonstrator software and the simulator models as well as to the core and the interfaces. Updating MIRO is straightforward — instructions are here, whilst updates can be downloaded here.
A summary of changes in each release is maintained in the MDK as “RELEASE NOTES”. Briefly: In the demonstrator mode, we’ve added sonar support so that MIRO is less minded to drive into things in front of his nose. In the simulator, we’ve fixed a couple of parametrisation errors (including correcting the friction coefficients on floor models so that MIRO doesn’t skate around quite so much) and eliminated a nasty bug involving an inverted mesh that caused a loss of stability under some conditions. Meanwhile, we’ve fixed a whole bunch of minor bugs across the software suite, and updated the documentation substantially (if you use the online docs, you’re already up-to-date with this side of things). We’ve also generated the first implementation of a new, more standardised, ROS interface, that sits alongside the traditional bespoke MIRO interface, in response to user feedback—this new interface uses ROS standard message types wherever possible, and you can start using it right away (try “rostopic list” to see what’s there, or view the documentation here). MIROapp has also received a quick facelift, with the addition of battery condition monitoring, amongst other things.
We’re not just maintaining at the lab, of course — we’re also busy planning our future. We want our products to make a difference — to be “Consequential” — which means that specifying the role that they will play requires a little thought. To that end, we’re working closely with researchers and educators, and keeping our ear to the ground in the sector more broadly to determine just where we can most usefully contribute. Naturally, we are happy to hear from anyone who wants to share their thoughts, perhaps at one of our MIRO developer days — and we’re especially happy to hear from MIRO users, so please do get in touch.
In the meantime, CqR Labs is ticking over nicely: recent additions to the team are getting used to each other and seem to be getting along, management are stroking their beards a lot and trying to look busy while the team do the actual work. You know, the usual set-up.