RTI Connext 6.1 is the first software framework designed to address the development and deployment challenges faced by companies building remotely-operated autonomous systems.
A significant benefit of autonomous systems is their ability to operate in otherwise inaccessible or hazardous environments. Examples include underwater drones, remotely-accessible medical devices, space systems, and construction and mining robots. Instead of humans providing direct physical control, these applications can use remote operators for supervision and to intervene in scenarios beyond their artificial intelligence capabilities. However, implementing the software for this distributed control is extremely challenging. Applications require high reliability and real-time performance even though connectivity in these inhospitable environments is often unreliable and low bandwidth. Depending on the operator’s proximity, communication may also span local, wide area, public and private networks.
Connext 6.1 introduces enhancements to significantly accelerate the development of real-time systems that must operate over these disparate network types. Unlike other distributed software frameworks that assume reliable enterprise deployment environments, Connext 6.1 supports and optimizes communications across highly variable local (LAN) and wide-area networks (WAN). Moreover, Connext 6.1 does not require software changes to support diverse network types. Its connectivity Application Programming Interfaces (API) abstract developers from needing to know or accommodate the capabilities of the underlying networks.
New capabilities in Connext 6.1 that ease the development and deployment of geographically distributed systems include:
Real-Time WAN Transport provides reliable, low latency and secure communication over lossy, low bandwidth, and public networks. It supports Network Address Translation (NAT) traversal and mobile applications with changing Internet addresses.
Cloud Discovery Service simplifies deployment of dynamic systems in which applications, assets, and their network addresses may not be known at configuration time. It provides a means for applications to discover each other and directly communicate, peer-to-peer. This minimizes latency and maximizes throughput relative to traditional solutions in which data has to be relayed by a centralized broker.
Built-in data compression improves efficiency over bandwidth-constrained networks by reducing overhead and latency while increasing effective throughput. A choice of compression algorithms and levels allows optimization of processor versus network utilization for different payload types.
“The WAN Transport feature is one of the fastest and easiest ways to achieve peer-to-peer UDP WAN communication, especially for projects already using RTI Connext DDS, but also for those using other middleware or even starting from scratch,” said Charles Cross, Co-founder and CTO at Mission Robotics. “At Mission Robotics, we were able to create a proof of concept from scratch that allowed us to remotely control and monitor a robot over the internet in only three hours. Considering the time and resources that would have gone into this effort otherwise, this is an absolute game changer.”
In addition to its support for complex networking environments, new features in Connext 6.1 facilitate the development of any large-scale and heterogeneous distributed system.
Support for .NET Core 5 lets developers use C# and run their applications on any platform that supports .NET Standard 2.0. In addition to Windows, this includes Linux, macOS and the Unity game engine.
A new System Designer tool provides a graphical way to easily and intuitively specify the configuration and interfaces in a Connext-based system. This helps ensure that applications adhere to a common architecture and can interoperate in a plug-and-play manner.
Administration Console includes enhanced graphical views to make it easier to visualize the components of live large-scale systems and their interconnectivity. This allows OEMs and systems integrators to better observe behavior during test and deployment, and to more quickly identify configuration or network problems.