The PEAMS final seminar showed the importance of the open software in heavy machine industry

In the spring of 2021, FIMA’s member companies launched a research project called PEAMS (Platform Economy of Autonomous Mobile Machines Software Development). Two research institutes and 10 companies participated in the project in various roles.
During the project, companies and researchers have done unique pioneering work and open cooperation to utilize open source software in autonomous machines. The experiences gained in the project offer a good starting point for the industry community to continue applying open software in Finnish industry.

The focus of the project was open source software in autonomous machines, also taking into account aspects related to the utilization of open software interfaces such as business models in open ecosystems, the maturity and capabilities of open source sw-tools, and controlling autonomous machines with components from several manufacturers. One of its main goals was to demonstrate the compatibility of ROS2-based [1]open source software components in autonomous machines.

The first demonstration of the project, focusing on indoor logistics, was organized in January 2023 at Mitsubishi Logisnext Europe Oy’s Demo Center in Järvenpää. The demo presented a control system that can control autonomous machines from many different suppliers using the VDA5050 standard [2] . Participants in the demo were Navitec Systems, GIM Robotics, Exertus, Atostek, University of Helsinki, University of Tampere and Mitsubishi Logisnext Europe Oy.

The results achieved in the project are important for the entire machine industry, because the market for autonomous work machines is growing worldwide. Currently, the compatibility of machines from different manufacturers and their technologies has been a significant challenge and an obstacle to growth. Anna-Kaisa Repo, Ph.D., project manager from Mitsubishi Logisnext Europe Oy, tells about their experience of the close and successful collaboration during the PEAMS project: “The project was like an adventure experienced together. We started with minimal ROS2 experience, but together we had the courage to develop a ROS2-based automation system that operarates with real machines in a real-world environment. The success was based on close and efficient cooperation, which was based on open information sharing”.

In the project, the University of Helsinki investigated the features and applicability of the open ROS2 software platform in machine automation. Based on their research and the gathered user experiences, no significant obstacles to the utilization of ROS2 were found.
Tampere University’s research produced information about ROS2 software in remote-controlled and autonomous machines used as test platforms. ROS2 components were used to implement e.g. navigation, positioning and route planning functions.  Studies included the compatibility and interchangeability of different ROS2 software components with the corresponding sw components which are currently in use. The results of the work were presented at the final seminar and demonstration of the project, which was organized on May 11, 2023 at the University of Tampere. In these practical demos, it was presented how automated heavy machinery utilizes the ROS2-based robot control system. In the seminar the results of the project and experiences of ROS2 software components from several companies were reviewed.

The PEAMS project has succeeded in demonstrating how access to compatible, ready-to-use software and hardware modules is possible through standardized interfaces supported by a large, diverse and growing open source development community. Many industry-leading companies have already adopted the ROS-based open source control platform to facilitate R&D collaboration and to accelerate fast and agile development models. Open interfaces make integration transparent and smooth. Components based on open source code can be used for different devices instead of having to program them from scratch. In addition, available features of ROS2 components can be easily implemented in new applications.

Written by
Antti Sirén

[1] Robot Operating System, ROS: a set of software libraries and tools for building robot applications

[2] VDA5050: standard between automatic forklift trucks and system control