Standard I/O for Mechatronic Systems (SIOMS)

Goal: Create a standard for mechatronic device I/O that allows portability between applications and to newer and faster hardware architectures.

For the past 10 years the robotics community has developed many sensing and control algorithms, some of which have been implemented. Those that have been implemented have often fallen into disrepair after the graduate student that created them left. It would be nice if this were not the case so that new students could build on the work of their predecessors.

One of the main bottlenecks in developing implementations is I/O. The simulation community has been able to make great leaps with new technology as I/O for computer devices such as displays and disks has been standardized with SCSI and the likes. The mechatronic devices used in robotic applications do not have such a bus. RS-232 is the current lowest common denominator for device integration.

It is also true that an arbitrary standard developed by a small group of individuals is unlikely to become popular. In an effort to motivate discussion of a standard for Mechatronic systems, SIOMS was developed and implemented on two different hardware platforms, (68040 VME bus and Intel 486 ISA bus), and used in a variety of applications including automated assembly, force control, teleoperation, dextrous manipulation, milling, and endoscopic robots.

The current SIOMS implementation is purely software based and hides the details of the hardware layer by use of UNIX device drivers. We need a hardware standard! Before this can happen, however, the basic set of operations or messages for hardware I/O needs to be determined. By initially developing the standard in software this operation set can be easily modified. Once a minimal set of messages has been determined, the standard can be moved to hardware.

Open Issues


Standardizing I/O for Mechatronic Systems (SIOMS) using Real-Time Unix Device Drivers,
E. Nicolson,
In Proceedings, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation.
San Diego, California, May 1994, pages 3489-3494

SIOMS specification, Rev. 0.1

Source code for SIOMS drivers for LynxOS 2.1 (in the process of being cleaned up for general distribution.)

Source code for SIOMS utility programs for timed reading, writing, and setting special options. (also in the works for distribution)

Ed Nicolson's home page

Last update: 9 June 1994