V-Sido OS, a real-time operating system (RTOS) designed for humanoid robots, has been released to the general public by Asratec, a subsidiary of Japanese communications giant SoftBank Corporation. At a presentation in Tokyo this week the company also introduced the ASRA C1 humanoid robot concept to demonstrate the capabilities of the software. The “OS that connects robots and people”, as taglined by its creator Wataru Yoshizaki, is designed to provide advanced control of humanoid robots’ movement functions.
This move emphasizes SoftBank’s commitment to becoming an important player in the humanoid robotics field. Last week the company unveiled the Pepper AI emotional robot, which is already employed in their stores for customer service, and also made announcements that it will start selling these robots from next year.
The V-Sido OS is designed to be flexible, versatile and user-friendly, capable of controlling robots of all sizes. As an analogy, the software can be regarded as the robotics equivalent of flight avionics in an aircraft — it handles all the low level stabilization tasks, while letting the user to focus on high level commands. V-Sido OS integrates routines for movements and balancing, enabling real time control of the robot. For instance if the robot is kicked, walks over uneven surfaces or receives inadequate commands, thanks to this software it will be able to correct its posture and prevent falling.
The software also addresses programming complexity, enabling developers of any level to easily integrate new functionality into their robots, without extensive coding effort, as responses to external actions or commands no longer need to be programmed, stored in the robot’s memory and executed, these responses are generated in real-time based on algorithms, highly modulated according to the task. Companies could also easily integrate customized V-Rios OS versions into their humanoid robotic platforms, thus creating the premises of mass produced intelligent robots.
V-Sido OS also allows for remote control using smartphones or other mobile devices, as demonstrated with the ASRA C1 robot, created solely for demonstrating capabilities of the software. The 1.1 meter tall robot was also equipped with a Kinect sensor, which allows it to read and mimic human movements. Other ways of controlling the robot are via head tracking, by using a head mounted display, a joystick, voice recognition or even assisted operation, where a human manipulates two small auxiliary arms on the robot body to control the robot’s arms.
Asratec’s chief robot creator Wataru Yoshizaki also reported that he managed to successfully control the huge 4-meter tall Kuratas robot using the V-Sido OS software.
Development of V-Sido OS, started a few years back, is still in progress, however an alpha release can be downloaded from the official website.
Asratec has also announced the V-Sido Connect, a microcontroller board featuring a reduced version of V-Sido OS. This will enable beginners or more advanced users to quickly create a humanoid robot with V-Sido OS functionality, just by hooking up servomotors and sensors to the board. It will also allow easy integration with the V-Sido ecosystem.
The board is powered by a STM32F1 32-bit ARM MCU, designed to control servos via RS-485 and TTL RS-232C serial interfaces, as well as read sensor inputs through I2C and GPIO interfaces. Asratec plans to make these boards commercially available by the end of the year, at a price of 10 000 yen, or about 100 US Dollars.
The concept behind the V-Sido OS is demonstrated in the excellent presentation video below.