A Human-Machine Interface to Support Reconfigurable Software Assembly for Virtual Laboratories
Recent developments in reusable and reconfigurable real-time software make it possible to create virtual laboratories wherein applications for a sensor-based control system located at a particular location can be created by assembling software modules designed at other sites, and executed in combination upon a robotic system at yet another site. Ultimately, such systems will lead to the development of virtual factories, wherein assembly can be performed remotely, using network-accessible time-shared facilities, from sites which otherwise would lack the necessary resources to accomplish such tasks. The benefits of these virtual laboratories and factories can be greatly enhanced by using hypermedia mechanisms. We have developed Onika, an iconically programmed human-machine interface with hypermedia capabilities, which interacts with reconfigurable software to assemble reusable code into applications. Onika can retrieve and use software modules created at other sites via hyperlinks, integrating them with modules created locally. Onika has been fully integrated with the Chimera real-time operating system in order to control several different robotic systems at Carnegie Mellon University, both locally and remotely.