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Last modified: February 02, 2001
Robotic Markup Language (RoboML)

[February 02, 2001] Maxim Makatchev (Department of Manufacturing Engineering and Engineering Management, City University of Hong Kong) leads a development effort to create a 'Robotic Markup Language (RoboML)' for standardized representation of robotics-related data. The specification would (1) support communication language between human-robot interface agents, as well as between robot-hosted processes and between interface processes, and (2) provide a format for archived data used by human-robot interface agents. The design will (1) be compatible with XML and derived standards: XML Schema, XML Query et al.; (2) incorporate definitions that are specific to robotic agents, i.e. vocabularies for human-robot interface, robot's hardware and robot's embedded software. (3) be efficient for robotics-related data (e.g., real-time data) processing and interchange between agents of different time scales (e.g., real-time data displayed by a non-real-time human-robot interface agent)."

RoboML description from the IEEE paper: "This paper is concerned with two issues of HRI [human-robot interface] via the Internet: an agent-based architecture and a common markup language for robot programming, agent communication and knowledge representation... In this paper we propose the architecture that includes user interface agents (IAs) and embedded agents (EAs) communicating over the Internet. The proxy agent, with functions close to those of communication facilitators, is utilized to reduce inter-agent communication load and computational resources taken by the EAs for interface-related tasks. The proxy agent dynamically creates and removes links to IAs and EAs, builds and supports representations of the domain ontologies related to the respective IAs and EAs by means of XML Schemas, performs translation of inter-agent communication, provides data journaling to facilitate asynchronous bidirectional communication between IAs and EAs... [Other Robot and Agent Languages:] A number of task-level programming languages has been developed for robots: TDL (Task Definition Language); the human-oriented robotic programming language CURL (Cambridge University Robot Language); reactive robot control languages RPL (Reactive Plan Language), RAP (Reactive Action Packages), ESL (Executive Support Language); the logic-based action language GOLOG. The need for simplification of robot programming has led to a number of dedicated national projects, e.g., in Japan and in Germany. One way to simplify programming is through utilization of graphical interfaces, e.g. Robo-glyph, Robot Programming Simplification Project, Onika). An alternative (and complimentary) strategy is to simplify the underlying data representation so that its interpretation and editing with the help of relatively simple software or directly by a human is possible. In this paper we follow the latter approach. There have appeared several proposed common languages for agent communication and knowledge representation. The agent communication languages include KQML (Knowledge Query Manipulation Language), FIPA (Foundation for Intelligent Physical Agents), AOP (Agent-Oriented Programming), and Telescript. The first order predicate calculus-based language for expressing the content of a knowledge-base is the KIF (Knowledge Interchange Format). While these languages are powerful and convenient for expressing the information related to their respective applications, a simultaneous utilization of a robot programming language,agent communication language and knowledge representation language in a single application, as it would be necessary for an agent-based HRI, creates significant difficulty for a human operator. Our goal is to propose a language for the purposes of Internet-based HRI applications that would unify the languages of the three categories considered above while being transparent for a human with minimal training... [Conclusions:] In order to use the Internet as a communication medium for the human-robot interface, it is required to address a number of specific problems: communication between real-time systems via the channel with low quality-of-service guarantees, limited or uncertain computational resources available for the interface client and the embedded software, compliance with the Internet standards, and compatibility with available software. This paper describes the approach to solve these problems by the utilization of the agent-based HRI architecture and the common XML-based language for HRI applications. The proxy-mediated HRI model aims at reducing the communication and computational load of embedded and user interface agents and provides means for asynchronous data exchange,accounting for the real-time nature of the embedded agent and, possibly, of the user interface agent. Available data schema and subscribed data schema, expressed in the XML Schema definition language, are supported by the proxy agent for each of the data streams to facilitate cross-agent translation and to reduce inter-agent traffic. The common Internet-oriented language for agent communication,knowledge representation and robot programming is proposed. The XML-based markup language for robotic applications, RoboML, is intended to be used in conjunction with other Internet standards, including other XML-ased languages for specific domains. The proposed interface architecture and the language are implemented in the HRI for the autonomous guided vehicle prototype. The Hardware and UserInterface ontologies are developed for the experimental HRI configuration. While the proposed methodologies are being successfully tested, we recognize that much more work needs to be done to refine the formal specifications of the proxy-mediated HRI architecture and RoboML. This work is closely related to the development of the parent Internet standards of XML-ased languages and protocols, as well as to the progress in HRI, agent communication, knowledge representation, and robot programming. Possible further directions of work on RoboML include: specification of ontologies for robot control architectures, multimodal user interfaces,and robot programming, and development of the RoboML application support via applets and browser plugins..."


  • RoboML web site

  • [February 02, 2001] "Human-Robot Interface Using Agents Communicating In An XML-Based Markup Language." By Maxim Makatchev (Department of Manufacturing Engineering and Engineering Management, City University of Hong Kong) and S. K. Tso (Centre for Intelligent Design Automation and Manufacturing, City University of Hong Kong). Pages 270-275 (with 25 references) in Proceedings the Ninth IEEE International Workshop on Robot and Human Interactive Communication [IEEE RO-MAN 2000, Osaka, Japan, September 27-29, 2000]. Piscataway, NJ, USA: IEEE Computer Society, 2000. Abstract: "The paper concerns an agent-based human-robot interface via the Internet. A user client and an embedded software are viewed as agents with limited computational and communication resources. To facilitate the communication between the real-time embedded agents and the user interface agents via the communication channel of uncertain quality the proxy agent is proposed as a mediator. The functions assigned to the proxy agent target reduction of inter-agent communication load and minimization of computational resources taken by the embedded agents and user interface agents for communication-related tasks. An XML-based language, RoboML, is designed to serve as a common language for robot programming, agent communication and knowledge representation. The human-robot interface software prototype is developed for an autonomous guided vehicle to evaluate the proposed techniques." [cache]

  • Contact: Maxim Makatchev (WWW), Department of Manufacturing Engineering and Engineering Management, City University of Hong Kong.

  • See also: "DARPA Agent Mark Up Language (DAML)."

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