Creating a complete virtual model by simulating components and control programs can lead to simplifying the construction process of a robot and can reduce costs of a project. The good part is that most applications used in simulation can be transferred to physical robots without requiring changes, or at least major changes.
In a virtual environment the reaction in real time can be simulated and it is very close to the physical model of a robot, thanks to technologies developed in time and which are designed to imitate in every detail a real process.
For example a mobile robot can be simulated, which is moving in an environment with objects, designed to detect these in order to and avoid them.
The benefits of simulation:
- reduce costs involved in robot production;
- can make a diagnosis of source code that controls a particular resource or a mix of resources;
- possibility to simulate various alternatives without involving physical costs;
- the robot or components can be tested;
- simulation can be done in stages, if the project is complex and requires it;
- can make a demonstration of system to determine if is viable or not;
- compatibility with a wide range of programming languages;
- shorter delivery times.
Disadvantages of simulation:
- the program can simulate just what it is programmed to simulate;
- the robot can meet many more scenarios in the real world than can be simulated.
New versions of simulation platforms offer increasingly more features that make simulation easier and also very close to reality. A significant contribution comes from 3D simulation which can be used to build the robot and the environment in detail. Most tools are compatible with programming languages like: C, C++, Perl, Python, Java, URBI, or MATLAB. Below you can find a list of simulation tools.
01. Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio
Microsoft offers robot developers a complete tool that can be used to simulate and includes various methods and technologies like3D, drag-and-drop method, or the ability to program the robots by connecting to a software development platform.
Created in Microsoft style, MRDS is friendly with users and other Microsoft software platforms.
Webots has a friendly interface, and supports the following languages: C/C++, Java, Python, URBI, MATLAB or interface with third party software through TCP/IP. It’s one of the most common simulation platform with a long list of components which can be used in simulation and the possibility of adding other components.
Compatible with most Windows operating systems, Workspace 5 is a powerful tools that supports simulation in 3D and is compatible with a long list of languages in the industrial area: AB G-Code, ABB Rapid, Adept V-Plus, Fanuc Karel 5, Fanuc TP, Mitsubishi PA10, Mitsubishi Melfa Basic, Motoman Inform II, Kawasaki AS, Kuka KRL, Nachi Slim, Panasonic Pres and Siemens G-Code.
The program has included components and fixtures used in the simulation. Another important feature is compatibility with CAD files that can be created in AutoCAD for example, then imported into the simulation program to be used.
V-REP is a 3D simulator compatible which allows modeling the entire system or only certain components like sensors, mechanisms, etc. The control program of a component can be attached to object or the scene with objects to model in a way similar to reality. The platform can be used to control the hardware part, develop algorithms, factory automation simulations, or educational purposes.
Compatible with most operating systems, Labview is used especially in engineering and research. Is a complex system that can be used in simulation, testing or measurement.
Offers the possibility simulation of a large number of hardware components.
Used for development and simulation, OpenHRP3 is a complex environment and offers a suite of components to develop some of the more complex robots. Allows dynamic simulation which requires inspection by the user of the robot model and the program that control the robot.
Used less in complex simulations, Player is mainly used for simulate sensor applications. Compatible with any operating system and programming language, the platform can simulate a variety of sensors and their response to various stimuli. It’s also 3D compatible.
Simbad is a Java-compatible simulation tool, and can be used for educational or scientific purposes. Simbad is mainly used for simulating 3D visualization and sensing, range or contact sensors.
Algodoo is a platform that can be easily learned and is for educational purposes. It is used similarly as a drawing tool.
RoboWorks is an excellent 3D modeler for use in educational purposes and in industrial simulation. Graphics in 3D format can be added in an easy way and it is compatible with C, C++, C/C++ interpreter Ch, VB, VB.NET, LabView, etc.
RobotStudio belongs to ABB and is specialized in industrial robot simulation. The program also offers a generous list of components which can be used to simulate a robot: sensors, actuators, grippers, etc.
Gazebo can simulate complex systems and a variety of sensor components. It is used especially in developing robots used in interaction, to lift or grab objects, to push, or any other activity which requires recognition and localization in space. It is an open source platform for which anyone can develop a plug-in with model components. Also is compatible with ROS and Player.
13. 3D Graphic Robot Simulation
This simulation environment is ideal to simulate the control algorithms, graphics or interaction between robot components.
Compatible with CAD files, Actin can be used for various activities which including simulation of algorithms, join types, rendering, dynamics and control.
15. Blender For Robotics
Blender For Robotics is a tool through which data can be obtained after simulation of actuators, sensors and controllers.
A platform used to simulate and program industrial robots. It’s mainly used for applications which involve handling, sorting or machinery for laser cutting and similar.
roboSim can be used in simulation as a stand-alone tool or with robot Builder in which 3D robots can be designed.
18. Visual Components
A resource that can provide a simple and efficient simulation system for robots used in industry.
Roboguide consists of four components, each of them having a role in simulation. HandlingPRO allows 3D simulation, PaintPRO has the role to create links between robot components and programs, PalletPRO and PalletTool used for development and integration of robotic palletizing and depalletizing systems, WeldPRO allows environment simulation where the robot operates.
With a friendly interface, RoboLogix is a 3D simulation environment for industrial robots. Some of the features include testing and editing programs used to control robots, and the possibility to optimize the cycle times by comparing the control programs.
Ezphysics allows simulation and animation in 3D format in a similar way to video games.
SimRobot is developed by Bremen University and used for research of autonomous robots.
- Simulation software, Robot Cafe
- Robotics Simulation Software, Into Robotics
- Robotics software tools, Society of Robots
- Robotics simulator, Wikipedia
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