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Our recent paper on Cloud Native Storage presented at EuCNC 2019

In June we could participe to the 28th edition of EuCNC, an international conference sponsored by the IEEE Communications Society, the European Association for Signal Processing, and supported by the European Commission. EuCNC is one of the most prominent communications and networking conferences in Europe, which efficiently brings together cutting-edge research and world-renown industries and businesses.

Valencia Congress Center
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Third Robotics and ROS in Zürich Meetup

The third robotics and ROS in Zürich meetup was organized and hosted by ICCLab on June 19th 2019. There was a good turnout from representatives in both academia and industry, totaling about 25 people in attendance. For our third meetup we had two presentations: “Perception and action planning in complex environments with ROS” by Rastislav Marko and Martin Möller from F&P Personal Robotics and “Self-calibrating camera position and grasping with Niryo arm” by Dimitrios Dimopoulos from ICCLab, ZHAW.

Summary of presentation #1: Perception and action planning in complex environments with ROS by Marko Rastislav and Martin Möller from F&P Personal Robotics

Martin Möller opened the first talk with a brief introduction of the company and one of its collaborations with ZHAW in the past. Next an overview of the hardware components of P-Rob 2R was given. This robot lies at the heart of the company’s solutions, including Lio, a mobile service robot, which was the focus of the talk. Following that, myP, the core robot library with its accompanying graphical control interface, was presented in action and a quick look at its architecture and configuration was showcased. Finally, Martin mentioned the key sensor components used by the mobile service robot.

Martin Möller presenting some of the company’s robotic solutions
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Second Robotics and ROS in Zürich Meetup

The second robotics and ROS meetup in Zürich was organized by ICCLab and hosted by Dr. Romana Rust and Gonzalo Casas from Gramazio Kohler Research, ETH Zürich, on May 14th 2019. There was a good turnout from representatives in both academia and industry, totaling about 45 people in attendance. For this second meetup we had three presentations: “ROS for Digital Fabrication in Architecture”, “ROS Integration into Magic Leap” and “Next Generation Security” from Wecorp.

Summary of presentation #1: ROS for Digital Fabrication in Architecture by Dr. Romana Rust and Gonzalo Casas from ETH Gramazio Kohler Research group

Dr. Romana Rust opened the first talk by showcasing ongoing and past projects of the Gramazio Kohler Research group. Specifically she presented the usage of industrial grade robots and ROS in additive digital fabrication and the ways they allow for a novel approach in building non-standardized architectural components.

Dr. Romana Rust on digital fabrication
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Niryo Arm Motor Troubleshooting

In most development processes hiccups are unavoidable. Our grasping application using the Niryo One arm was no exception. During testing, we had two of our arms break down and with this post, we would like to share our experiences with debugging and resolving these issues.

As far as we can understand, the axis 6 motor (Dynamixel XL-320 model) in the first arm, which is responsible for turning the gripper around, was damaged due to the gripper hitting the table. Since the gripper does not have an applied force feedback shutdown procedure, one of the motors probably broke down from overloading. Note that there is no gripper URDF model provided and octomap integration into the project was not yet complete at the time, so the kinematics planner was not aware of the table’s existence. As for our second arm, the culprit was the power adapter. The Dynamixel XL-430 motors are rated for 11.1 Volts, but the adapter supplied is a 12V one, which can cause permanent damage due to overheating if the arm is operating for prolonged periods of time. This design oversight was amended in Niryo One models shipped after November 2018, but in any case, you should check the rating of the power adapter provided and request a replacement if needed.

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First Robotics and ROS in Zürich Meetup

ICCLab organized the first robotics and ROS meetup in Zürich on April 9th 2019. There was a good turnout from representatives in both academia and industry, totaling almost 60 people in attendance. This meetup is the first of hopefully many that we intend to organize, as part of our effort to build a local network of ROS users across many robotic disciplines. Besides networking, our goal for these meetups is to also provide a platform for individuals to share and teach specific robotics/ROS knowledge. For this initial meetup we had two presentations: vision for navigation in autonomous robotics, and ROS applications at ICCLab.

Nearly 60 attendees were present at the first robotics and ROS in Zürich meetup.
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Running the ICCLab ROS Kinetic environment on your own laptop

As we are making progress on the development of robotic applications in our lab, we experience benefits from providing an easy-to-deploy common ROS Kinetic environment for our developers so that there is no initial setup time needed before starting working on the real code. At the same time, any interested users that would like to test and navigate our code implementations could do this with a few commands. One git clone command is now enough to download our up-to-date repository to your local computer and run our ROS kinetic environment including a workspace with the current ROS projects.

To reach this goal we created a container that includes the ROS Kinetic distribution, all needed dependencies and software packages needed for our projects. No additional installation or configuration steps are needed before testing our applications. The git repository of reference can be found at this link: https://github.com/icclab/rosdocked-irlab

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Configuring the ROS Navigation Stack on a new robot

Our lab has acquired a new robot as part of its ROS based robotic fleet. We opted with the SUMMIT-XL Steel from Robotnik; a behemoth compared to our much-loved TurtleBots.

The Summit-XL Steel is advertised to be a great platform for robotic application that require transporting heavy loads (up to 250 kg) such as warehouse automation (retrieved from https://www.robotnik.eu/web/wp-content/uploads//2018/07/Robotnik_SUMMIT-XL-STEEL-01.jpg).
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Some Cloud Robotics News

We haven’t updated the blog with robotics news in a while, but we actually have plenty to tell and much more to come soon.

First of all the robotics team has gained new strength with the addition of Andy, Dimitris, Leo, Rod, and Thomas. Tobi and Lukasz have left us, but we are still working on collaborating remotely.

On top of amazing people, the team has grown also in terms of robots. From the month of October we have finally started receiving our new robotic hardware and got to play with it.

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SC2 2018 – The 8th IEEE International Symposium on Cloud and Services Computing

The 8th IEEE International Symposium on Cloud and Services Computing (IEEE SC2) 2018, took place in Paris, France, from the 19th to 22nd of November. The conference was co-located with two more events, namely the 5th International Conference on Internet of Vehicles (IOV) 2018 and the 11th IEEE International Conference on Service-Oriented Computing and Applications (IEEE SOCA) 2018.

We from the ICCLab participated for first three days of the SC2 conference as its focus on Cloud related topics meets our expertise and research interests for research and development activities. The main themes in focus were Cloud Platforms and Services, Networking and Services, and Cloud and SOA Services.

As an important venue for researchers and industry practitioners, SC2 offered the opportunity to exchange information about recent  advancements for IT-driven cloud computing technologies and services. The conference hosted a good number of participants for a familiar context were interacting with peers was easy, not in the last place over the coffee and lunch breaks.  In total 68 oral presentations were planned in 15 sessions. Additionally 10 posters were presented in a poster session and 3 keynotes were organized. The conference was organized over three days, with the first day being dedicated to tutorials and the next days with parallel sessions for each of the co-located conferences.

Besides attending the event itself, the main motivation to visit the SC2 conference was to present our paper entitled “Hera Object Storage: A seamless, Automated Multi-Tiering Solution on Top of Openstack Swift”. In the presented paper we highlighted some of our recent results from research in the field of Cloud storage. In particular, the focus of the contribution is in the fast-growing field  of unstructured data storage in distributed cloud.  We proposed an object storage solution built on top of OpenStack Swift. This solution is able to apply a multi-tiering storage to unstructured data in a seamless and automatic manner. The object storage decisions are taken based on the data temperature, in terms of current access rate.

The first day of the conference, was the day of my arrival. The first tutorial I could attend gave  insights in the NVIDIA company and their activities in the automotive industry. Various interesting results were presented, supported by real-world test videos. We could see how NVIDIA as a market leader supports manufacturers in building self-driving cars. We could appreciate how a full range of real-world conditions influencing the traffic conditions could be handled. The amount of work behind these results was probably not completely clear to many of us, but the needed hardware and software infrastructure was clearly huge!

The second very interesting talk was showing an interesting business model presented by Qarnot computing, France.  The model they presented promoted a solution where computing and heating are delivered from a cloud infrastructure. The solution is based on a geo-distributed cloud platform with server nodes named digital heaters. Each heater embeds processors or GPU cards and is connected to the heat diffusion system. With this solution, homes, offices and other buildings can be heated through the distributed data center which is able to balance the requests in computation and heating.

The last tutorial of the day proposed some basics of machine learning for unsupervised algorithms. A review on the applications and the challenges faced when dealing with data sets was also given.

The second day started with the official opening of the conferences with the presentation of the program. This was followed by a keynote on scheduling methods for elastic services as for a project driven by the AlterWay company in France. The rest of the day we had two conference sessions and a further Keynote speech where Cybersecurity, with its links to geopolitical issues, was in focus.

In the first SC2 session I attended we could follow presentations about the following topics: a comparison between unikernels and containers, user plane management for 5G networks, a cost analysis of virtual machine live migration, and two papers on automated tiered storage solutions, one of which I presented myself. The second session was dedicated to work in progress papers, covering topics like contextual information searching for encrypted data in cloud storage services, smart contracts with on and off-blockchain components, cloud native 5G virtual network functions.

The evening we could enjoy a banquet on the Seine river with all the conference attendees. The cruise on the Seine brought us close to the main sightseeing attractions of beautiful Paris. A fish-based dinner was served completing a perfect environment to exchange experiences with other conference participants.

Day 3 started with an enlightening keynote speech of Prof. Cesare Pautasso from the University of Lugano, Switzerland, which described the recent trend in terms of software development. This is dictated by the current scenario where end-users have multiple devices to access their data and contents and managing their personal information. To best manage such a complex multi-device user environment Liquid software is needed, whereby software can seamlessly flow and adapt to the different devices.

After the last session with some interesting papers presenting among others solutions for multi-objective scheduling in cloud computing, confidentiality and privacy issues in the Cloud, it was time to head back home. Our participation to the SC2 conference was definitely positive and we will surely consider next year’s conference edition as possible venue to share our new research experience.

BOSH Release for the Ceph Object Storage Broker Now Available

by Omar Mahdi Kais

After announcing the broker sometime ago, we immediately started working to create a BOSH release for the broker and provide users with maximum freedom in how they want to deploy the broker and where they want to use it.

We wanted to ensure that the broker remains very simple to deploy, while simultaneously remaining easily configurable. In addition, since we are deploying on BOSH we wanted to handle as many dependencies as possible.

To accomplish these goals, we moved all service and plan configuration inside the broker’s deployment manifest, which we made sure to keep as simple as possible. Along with this, we also compile the source code on BOSH when deploying so that the user isn’t required to have Go installed if he wants to use the latest source code.

A simple deployment script is also provided so that time from repository clone to production is reduced to a minimum. This new repository along with complete documentation is now publicly available here, so feel free to use it and provide us with any feedback you might have.

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