MASSROBOTICS hosted a meeting on September 8 to discuss the proposed scope for version 2 of its AMR Interoperability Standard. Version 1.0 of the MassRobotics Interoperability Standard was launched in May 2021. The first version was developed to allow autonomous vehicles of different types to share information about their location, speed, direction, health, tasking/availability, and other performance characteristics with similar vehicles so they can better coexist on a warehouse or factory floor. A FedEx facility was designated as the location for the first use-case of the standard.
As MassRobotics continues its interoperability journey, the focus is on extending version 1.0, rather than overwriting it. Mission communication is a primary focus for this extension – facilitated by a mission communication toolkit that enables connected agents to request and respond to work orders with others on the network. This will expand the use of the standard from agent reporting to bi-directional communication. The envisioned architecture will include an InterOp Facilitator that provides a connection point for all agents (AMR or fleet manager for AMRs) and facilitates message exchanges between the agents. A list of readily supported missions, defined as activities assigned to an agent to be performed at a destination, will be included in the documentation. The benefits of the chosen decentralized architecture include the ability for mission requests to be initiated by any agent on the network and for receiving agents to independently determine whether to accept or reject a mission.
Generally speaking, this decentralized approach will allow technology suppliers to retain a sufficient level of control over their proprietary products and information, while also allowing end-users to deploy robotics from multiple vendors and achieve synergistic benefits from interoperability of those disparate technologies.
Finally, it was stated that the standard was specifically built to be easy to implement, with the expectation that implementing it will generate useful feedback and knowledge to propel further development.
Development of Standard 2.0 is still in progress. More detailed information, such as an architectural overview, diagrams of mission flow examples including request and response, assignment and update, and cancel mission. But they stressed there is still much work to be done and opportunities to contribute. For more information on the MassRobotics Interoperability Standard and next steps in its progression and participation opportunities, visit https://www.massrobotics.org/working-groups/