ROS Control: the key to consolidate ROS in the robotics industry

ROS has been one of the greatest advances of the robotics industry in the past years. Its development began as a way to help the development of robot applications, easing the communication between sensors and algorithms, following the paradigm of “program once, test everywhere”. 

This has been the pattern of the last years, and ROS has performed extremely good in that way. 

For example, you could code an algorithm to take an image as its input, without caring about which model, resolution or connection type, as long as it was supported by ROS and adopted its API.

But this focusing on the high-level layer of application development led to an unthinkable oblivion: How was the access to actuators managed? How were the references of the actuators calculated? 

As in the case of high level applications, where the end user shouldn’t care about the source and destination of the data used and produced by him, in the case of robot control the user shouldn’t care about which type of actuators are used by a robot. But today, this is not the situation anymore thanks to ROS Control.

Why ROS Control?

ROS Control is the API that has been developed by the ROS community to allow simple access to different actuators. Using this standard API, the controller code is separated from the actuator code. For example, one could write a new controller implementing a fancy control strategy and test it on different hardware without changing a single line of code. Or one could test different control algorithm with same hardware to find the most suitable for its needs.

ROS Control has different features that make it really appealing: 

  • Real time capabilities, that allows to run control loops at hundreds of hertz.
  • A simple manager interface, that gives access to the actuators and handles resource conflicts.
  • A safety interface, that knows the hardware limitation of the joints and ensures that the commands sent to the actuators are between their limits.
  • A set off-the-shelf controllers that are ready to be used.

Have you ever thought about the mapping between joint and actuator space? ROS Control already did it. 

Normally this mapping is one-to-one, i.e. one actuator controls one joint, and their movement is related by a gearbox, so you don’t need to do messy calculations. However, in case of more complex scenarios, e.g. when a differential transmission is used, ROS Control gives us an elegant solution through its transmission interface to cope with this problem. 

This solution is used by the differential (RB-1 Base and RB-2 Base) and skid-steering (Summit-XL) robots from Robotnik, robotics company. These platforms are very similar, but they have different number of wheels: two for a differential configuration and four in the case of skid-steering. Thanks to the transmissions interface in ROS Control, they share the same control algorithm with no additional software effort.

ROS Control

One more step

What about mixing different robot components into one? This is a trend nowadays, where robot components are autonomous and usable on their own but can also be assembled into a single functional system. In those cases, ROS provides high level coordination between the components, but with ROS Control this coordination is also achieved at the low level, extending the control possibilities to far and beyond.

For example, with a more coupled control between a robotic arm and the tool attached to it. Or, as is the case of RB-Kairos, smooth and coordinated movements between the robotic arm and the mobile base are easy to program, leading to high complex operations and maneuvers that include logistic operations, picking items from narrow spaces and interactions with humans in a safe and confident manner.

Finally, the separation between controllers and actuators allows an interesting option: simulation. Gazebo, the standard robot simulator used by ROS, implements simulated ROS Control actuators, and one can write and test a controller even before it has the real robot available. This feature of ROS Control is used at Robotnik to test new kinematic configurations for its most edgy robots, allowing for quick prototype delivery. 

This is the case of RB-Vulcano, a platform with 4 steerable wheels in a swerve-configuration thanks to them is able to move in an omnidirectional way. 

However, they have to be coordinated in different modes, such as parking or navigation, to effectively follow the reference of movement that is sent to the robot. Switching between modes must be a compromise between the smoothness of the movement and the precision required for each operation. Thanks to ROS Control, Robotnik was able to replicate the full platform in a simulated environment to find the best strategies for motor control.

ROS Control

ROS Control is one of the key parts for the domination of the robotic world by ROS. As a world leading company in the ROS community, Robotnik makes an extensive use of ROS Control to give its customers the best products available on the market.

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Top robotics companies: Robotnik

Top robotics companies: why Robotnik is between them?

Today, robotics is part of our day to day, helping to optimize and automate tasks and making life easier for people. Like many others, this has been a natural process that we have reached due to numerous factors such as, for example, labour shortages in some sectors; the decrease in the world labour force (due to the low birth rate and aging); the search for automations that avoid human error and also the automation of those heavy, repetitive or simple jobs. If you want to know why Robotnik is between the top robotics companies, just keep reading!

The importance of human and robots 

What is collaborative robotics and what does it contribute?

In relation to this last aspect, we find collaborative robotics, which t is presented as one more working tool, as an aid for workers and operators. These are robots that can work safely in environments where there are people, without physical barriers. This has undoubtedly been the definitive step and made by the top robotics companies. Robots can be as just another co-worker. If we add to this the simplicity of its installation, its ease of use and that they can perform a wide number of tasks, it is understood that collaborative robots are present in any company that is in the so-called industry 4.0.


How the ​best robotics companies help create jobs

If we put into focus the idea that collaborative robots often perform repetitive, heavy and sometimes even dangerous tasks, we can go beyond the hackneyed concept that robots replace traditional labour and frame it in a new concept about processes improvement. That is, seeing collaborative robotics as one more aid to produce better, so that the company/industry is as efficient as possible.

Milton Guerry, President of the International Federation of Robotics, assures that: “Productivity increases and competitive advantages of automation don´t replace jobs – they will automate tasks, augment jobs and create new ones.”

Companies around the world are increasing their use of industrial robots: in five years, the global operating stock increased by approximately 65% ​​to 2.4 million units (2013-2018).


And which are the top robotics companies in the market? Robotnik is one of them

Robotnik is specialized in mobile robotics. Since 2002, the year of its foundation, it designs, manufactures, and markets robots and mobile manipulators.

Currently, our robots are present in numerous sectors: R&D, defense, inspection and maintenance, etc. The strongest in the industrial market is undoubtedly the logistics sector.


Best robotics companies uses robots in logistic sector 

Why choose Robotnik?

Nowadays, anyone with a general knowledge of the industry knows the use of mobile robots to transport goods in environments such as warehouses or even outdoor environments, such as those with large companies made up of several buildings that need to share merchandise with each other. The uses are very wide and in the end what it is about is to automate a process that is simple and repetitive, what a robot does best.

This, which is already so accepted in the market, was not so accepted in 2008, when Robotnik launched its first Collaborative Mobile Robots (CMR) on the market for autonomous transport in hospital environments. That experience is what has helped our company to be one of the best companies in the robotics sector. Since then, our logistics solution has been expanded adapting to the different environments of factories, warehouses or industries in general.

Our indoor logistics system is a comprehensive solution that includes robot fleet, location systems, user interface (HMI) and Fleet Management System (FMS). All this is a specific development from Robotnik.


What are the advantages of robotics and mobile handling in the logistics sector?

That collaborative mobile robotics has been making its way in sectors such as logistics makes a lot of sense. What would be the advantages it provides? We can cite the following:

  • Easy setup and installation.
  • Appropriate to share the workspace with people.
  • Automation of repetitive or unsafe processes.
  • Different localization solutions available.
  • Flexible routes vs fixed routes of traditional AGVs.
  • Advanced intelligent functions: person following, docking to machinery, voice communication, etc.
  • Advanced user interface (HMI) that allows to generate maps and define localization (waypoints) and routes in a simple and interactive way.
  • FMS (Fleet Management System) for the optimal coordination of a fleet of robots that share a workspace and a set of resources.

Top robotics companies share space between humans and robots

Success factors or how to try to be among the best robotics companies

Among the companies that have managed to consolidate over time, and especially the technology companies, several factors tend to coincide. Among those who define Robotnik like a top robotics company we could mention:

  • Market: when a company is in a booming sector, it is normal for it to progress. From 2020 to 2022 almost 2 million new units of industrial robots are expected to be installed in factories around the world. Europe is the region with the highest robot density, with an average value of 114 units per 10,000 employees in the manufacturing industry.
  • Innovation: any technology company must innovate if it wants to have a benchmark in the market. At Robotnik we have tried to launch products that add value to the market, and we have tried to improve the processes of our industrial customers. There is another way of doing things and mobile robotics has a lot to say about it.
  • Customization: one of the things that defines us the most is our ability to create, and to develop new prototypes that adapt to the needs of our clients. If there is a robot or a mobile manipulator at the base of a project, we can make it happen.
  • Vision: over 18 years there have been some setbacks, but also many successes such as the commitment to certain sectors and countries or specialization in certain types of products (such as, for example, right now in the field of mobile handling) .
  • Alliances: all our business partners have helped us. Our distributors, strategic allies for certain projects... are the ones who have helped us establishing ourselves in the international market or in certain sectors. The path is not usually successful if you travel alone.


The list of top robotics companies that are doing interesting things in the world is extensive. We hope Robotnik will continue to be one of them for a long time.


Top robotics companies: Robotnik

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Robotnik, premium sponsor of 3rd ROS Developers Day

Robotnik is going to sponsor the 3rd ROS Developers Day (*formerly named “ROS Developers Conference“), which is a hands-on online event for robot operating system developers. The event aims to connect ROS developers around the world without geographical restrictions and to share and learn the latest ROS applications through real-time practice.

At this conference, the world’s top ROS developers will bring their latest results through a webcast. They will demonstrate their ROS projects in real-time, and the public will practice at the same time.

It's the case of our colleague Alejandro Arnal, software developer from Robotnik. He will make a speech about 'Working with mobile manipulators'. Mobile manipulators are robots composed of a mobile base and a robotic arm. By combining these two, robots are able to interact in human environments, being collaborative robots. Our colleague will teach the audience how to program a mobile manipulator and they will practice using Robotnik’s mobile manipulator RB-KAIROS.

Robotnik shares the advantages of Collaborative Mobile Manipulators at ‘We Are Cobots’

‘Applications of Collaborative Mobile Robots’ is the title of the Robotnik’s webinar in the first edition of the ‘We Are Cobots’ virtual fair organized by our partner Universal Robots. The webinar, which will take place on June 17, aims to share Robotnik's experience as a leading company in mobile robotics.

Collaborative Mobile Manipulation is now a reality within the reach of all companies competing within the framework of Industry 4.0. These are autonomous mobile manipulators fully prepared to work safely in environments where there are people. Their ability to perform mechanical and repetitive tasks, covering complete work shifts, make them a fundamental tool for an any industry that wants to position itself at the forefront of technology and occupy a position of relevance in today's market.

The webinar shows the keys to know how to approach the implantation of mobile manipulation within the productive processes of a company.

If you are interested in Collaborative Mobile Manipulation, be sure to attend.

Sing up!

UNO Logistics Organization shares our robotics solutions for the sector

UNO Logistics, the Logistics and Transport Business Organization, dedicates a complete article to us in the analysis of the different industrial solutions of our company for the logistics industry. Robotnik has been carrying robotic mobile robots for different industrial sectors since its origin, with special dedication to the transport of goods and industrial mobile manipulation since 2008, when we started to implement our robots and our Fleet Management System (SGF) in hospitals.

Would you like to read the full article? We leave it here.

How to choose a mobile manipulator? Key factors

One of the axioms of the industry is that it is necessary to produce as efficiently as possible in the shortest possible time. It follows that one of the most important factors in most industrial processes is time, which has been increasingly optimized thanks to process automation. Among them, the search for increasingly sophisticated solutions for “pick and place” logistics work stands out. This is where a new product concept based on a broad portfolio has strongly come in: robotic mobile manipulators.

Thus, most of the Companies seeking for a mobile manipulator consider how to select the right one. The following describes the main aspects that a good mobile manipulator must comply with.


“Pick and place” tasks are usually random tasks that require variable and indefinite paths. Therefore, to reduce the duration of this type of tasks it is recommended that the robot optimizes the route: the shortest and with the least number of stops. This is where a robot with omnidirectional movement appears to be the most optimal proposal thanks to its versatility of 360º movement.

Assume the following case study. The following image shows the same route that an omnidirectional mobile manipulator and another differential mobile manipulator must perform to do a “multi” pick and place mission.

Disregarding the possible obstacles that the robot should overcome, it has been estimated that the manipulator would take about 20 seconds to “pick” at each point (giving a total of about 3 minutes) with the difference that the differential platform should be redirected before starting the point-to-point offset. By estimating the time of each reorientation turn in approximately 5 seconds (40 seconds in total), it is concluded that the differential manipulator does the same task 1/5 times slower than the omnidirectional.

Based on this example and estimating continuous annual use, the robot with differential kinematics would need up to 40 more days to match the production of the omnidirectional robot. With this theoretical data, it can be concluded that a mobile manipulator with omnidirectional kinematics has the guarantees of reducing production times and, therefore, a reduction of costs in the short or medium term.


Another necessary factor in the decision to buy a mobile manipulator is the usability it brings to the Customer. First of all, it is important that the start up of the robot and the access to its functions is as predictive as possible, thanks to an integrated software interface to interact with the robot.

A good interface must give option to certain functions that speed up the use and maintenance of the mobile manipulator, among which would be essential:

• Generate missions in a predictive way.
• Check the status of the robot: battery, sensors, motors...
• Robot control.


Most Companies value the versatility of the robot when it comes to adapting to its routines. A large part of the robotic mobile platforms on the market have closed software and hardware configurations that do not accept those modifications that the Customer needs. Therefore, it is very important to look for mobile manipulators that allow the implementation of any type of devices or functions that the Client requires for its industrial application. An example would be those Customers who already have robotic arms or camera systems and who need to integrate them into mobile platforms, thus taking advantage of their features without buying new devices.

This type of facilities, again, makes the robot's adaptation to the industrial environment more agile and bearable. Therefore, it is appropriate to prioritize those mobile manipulators that adapt to the Customer and discard those that only accept predefined closed configurations.


It should not be forgotten that the work carried out by a mobile manipulator will complement or replace the workforce of one or more workers over one or more shifts. It is therefore logical to expect that the mobile manipulator selected will be capable of having an autonomy greater than a worker can exercise throughout their working day.

In order not to be constantly aware of the robot's battery status, it is recommended that the robot has the option of being charged by means of a charging station. This also makes it easier for the robot not to unload and to have more continuous and automated activity.

All the factors that can improve the robot's autonomy must be taken into account to avoid wasting production time and, therefore, not wasting money.

Robotnik launches the new RB-KAIROS 16

Robotnik launches the new RB-KAIROS 16, an omnidirectional mobile robot that integrates the new Universal Robots UR16 manipulator.

With this latest addition, the RB-KAIROS product range increases its payload in the final effector up to 16 kg, improving the possibilities in applications such as pick & place, metrology, screwing, drilling, loading/unloading of machinery, quality control, etc. In addition, the mobile manipulator benefits from the advantages of the arms and URxe controllers with greater frequency and force-torque control in the final effector.

RB-KAIROS is the perfect option to increase the work space of a cobot, reaching any position and with the capability to work on pieces of any size. The robot has an autonomy of eight hours and optionally a charging station which allows the arm to keep working during the charging process. The programming of the robot is simple and possible from any handheld device, making possible to launch simple applications in a few minutes. The robot can mount the range of UR+ standardized accessories (cameras, vision systems, grippers, vacuum grippers) fully compatible and with plug&play connection to the robot.

Robotnik launches its new range of RB-Vulcano products

The new line of products is focused on industrial applications and complements the new product portfolio.

The new RB-VULCANO is designed, manufactured and marketed by Robotnik. This is the result of Robotnik´s experience for more than 17 years in the Mobile Robotics Sector.

A new line of products that expands and complements the product portfolio of the company by incorporating three new robots. They are characterized by their large load capacity, their autonomy, their industrial approach and their versatility to incorporate various tools based on their use.

The mobile platform RB-VULCANO BASE stands out for its high load capacity: 1.750 kg and an autonomy of up to 10 hours. Both features are extremely useful for industrial environments, especially for logistics applications.

Besides that, the robot RB-VULCANO consists of the mobile platform RB-Vulcano Base, lift column and a UR5 arm (payload of 5 kg) or arm UR10 (payload 10 kg). By default, it has integrated collaborative gripper 40 CO-ACT (Schunk) but this can be replaced by any other type of tool (as a screwdriver, for example).

Finally, the mobile platform RB-VULCANO PRO stands out for its ability to integrate various components for performing numerous tasks in industrial, agricultural and logistics environments. Among these components are tools, structures, supports, robotic arms, forklifts, roller-conveyors, tanks and air/hydraulic units, among others.


Mobile manipulators for industry: the future is now

Industry 4.0 has opened the way to multiple forms of automation that aim to optimize productivity and improve work processes.

There are many companies, of different sizes, that already have different collaborative robots, that is, those that are designed to share with people a work environment with total security. The mobile manipulators (robot arm onboard a mobile robot) are the next step after the collaborative arms (cobots) and the collaborative mobile robots (CMR).

To fit in an industrial environment, a mobile manipulator must comply with several features:

  • Must be able to work with people safely
  • Must be autonomous
  • Not too expensive in setup time.
  • Easy setup and installation
  • Robustness and cycle time

In the industrial field, autonomous mobile manipulators can perform repetitive or heavy tasks. Among their tasks may be picking up and transporting goods.

Robotnik has been established as a European reference company in mobile service robotics. We provide a reliable solution that integrates robots, localization systemsconfiguration and programming tools (HMI) and Fleet Management System (FMS).

We have large experience in mobile manipulation, being partners of companies like Universal Robots, Schunk, Kinova or Barrett Technology. We have several products as RB-1, XL-GEN or RB-Kairos. The last one,  RB-Kairos integrates a UR5 arm from Universal Robots, one of the most established arms in the industry worldwide. In this sense, RB-Kairos is  suitable for the development of industrial tasks.


RB-Kairos achieves the ‘Innovation Award 2017 'granted by Ayri11

The mobile manipulator RB-Kairos has received the 'Innovation Award 2017' during the event Ayri11 2017. With this award, is recognized the creative and innovative contribution to the market of this new product developed by Robotnik. RB- Kairos is a collaborative and autonomous mobile manipulator designed for the development of industrial tasks.

One of its main features, which makes it a pioneering product, is that it’s a fully integrated mobile robot, both in software and hardware. In addition to being completely collaborative.

Its applications include logistics, indoor transport, mobile industrial handling and transportation and placing of goods.


With more than 400 attendees in this edition, Ayri11 is a reference event in robotics and automation, whose objective is to present the latest news and market trends, allowing live demonstrations and presentations of new products and / or services.