Methods in Developing and Testing Robot Programs

The first step was to evaluate the processes currently involved in developing and testing robot programs. Although these processes are individual and differ subtly between developers, there are elements common to all.

All developers require a code editor, a debugger, and either a robot simulator or a robot management tool. Additionally many developers employ some form of visualization or data viewing tool to show data produced or sensed by the robot.

One problem with this approach is that it requires the management of a number of separate tools by the developer. The tools must be loaded and configured before any development can proceed. This is a time consuming and menial process.

Additionally, the developer is provided with very little in the way of useful debugging information. Most bugs must be diagnosed by writing code specifically to output the state of the program and the robot around the failure point. Once the problem has been resolved, this code becomes redundant and represents wasted development time.

Part of the problem is that robots are complicated systems that operate in real time. The majority of programming tools assume that it is possible to freeze execution of the program while debugging takes a place. As robots operate in the real world, this is often not an option.

To resolve the issues, integration of the wide range of tools used in robot programming is essential. The code editor, debugger, simulator and visualizations must all be accessible from within the IDE.

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