InDro Controller: A Simple Solution to Complex Robotics Missions

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InDro Controller: A Simple Solution to Complex Robotics Missions

An all-in-one solution for operating virtually any type of robot from a highly secure console.

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indrorobotics.ca

InDro Robotics – as always – has been hard at work on innovative new products. And we’re particularly proud of our latest accomplishment: The InDro Controller.

It’s an all-in-one solution for operating virtually any type of robot from a highly secure console. It’s completely robot-agnostic, very easy to use – and exceedingly powerful. We’ll get into the details as we go, but first let’s hear from Front End Developer RJ Bundy with an elevator pitch.

“It’s an all-in-one data visualization, robot management and robot control software,” he says. “Whether you’re a student first learning how to use a robot or you’re a commercial giant, you’d be able to manage and maintain all of your robots.”

He’s not exaggerating. We walked through a demo of this system recently, with Head of R&D Sales Luke Corbeth at the controls and Bundy explaining the various features. We connected remotely with one of our InDro robots. The software immediately detected all of the sensors on the platform, offering up a display of windows showing the data they were collecting with minimal latency.

“It can handle all sorts of data,” says Bundy. “It doesn’t matter if the robot has standard or custom sensors, InDro Controller can automatically detect and visualize them. For example, if you added a radar unit to an existing robot, the system will pick up on that immediately.”

Of course, it has teleoperation. Missions can be run manually or autonomously (with InDro’s autonomy stack loaded onto any ROS-based robot).

“We have a GPS-based autonomy – which is better for outdoors – and then we have a SLAM- (Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping) based autonomy which is ideal for indoors,” says Corbeth.

And while InDro Controller has very complex capabilities, it’s a snap to use.

“Once it’s set up, it’s pretty straightforward to initiate the mission. Even someone without any robotics knowledge could do it,” he adds.

Below: The Pilot View mode in InDro Controller. Data from any desired sensors is displayed with minimal latency via a highly secure connection.Teleoperation Pilot View

Highly Secure

Regardless of whether you’re a startup, researcher, or a major corporation collecting sensitive data – security is important. InDro Controller has been built with that in mind.

“We’ve created an interface that makes it very hard for a third party to intercept any of those commands or the data coming from the robot to you.”

Though the person controlling the robot is the primary login, others with a secure login can also monitor the missions remotely from anywhere in the world. The software can store as many repeatable missions as you can throw at it, and you can initiate a previously stored mission with a single click.


Mission Planning

Mission planning could not be simpler.

For the first mission, the pilot would manually control the robot. InDro Controller uses an Xbox controller plugged into your computer for intuitive operation (though other options are available). All buttons on the Xbox device can be quickly mapped to carry out specific functions.

InDro Controller tracks everything you’ve done – and we mean everything – and saves it as a repeatable autonomous mission.

“If you manually drive the robot somewhere, it will remember it’s been there and it’ll be able to go back, follow that same path every time. It will also remember to carry out any specific actions you’ve taken at those points of interest, including camera angles, zoom, etc.” says Bundy.

The mission planner also automatically loads a map to locate your robot (you also have the option of satellite view), so you can monitor exactly where it is on any given mission.

And, of course, it can do this for an entire fleet of robots.

Below: InDro Controller shows Points of Interest – which can be repeated with saved missions

Highly Customizable

InDro Controller has been designed to allow users to easily customize the user interface for any robot, any mission, and any dashboard view. Multiple streams of data, including upload and download speeds, battery levels and overall robot health are available at a glance. Oh, and did we mention it also works with third-party autonomy stacks?

“The dashboard, the cameras, the heads up display on the autonomous missions – those all can be customized,” says Bundy. “We’re also adding other personal user customizations, like a light and dark mode, metric conversion, schedule missions – all the kinds of features you could want.”

InDro Controller already works exceptionally well. But – as with all of our R&D projects – it will continually be refined with additional features and functionality.

“We’re heavily invested in continuously improving the software,” says Corbeth. “So regardless of which version you’re shipped, know that this is something that InDro Robotics is constantly developing and improving with client feedback in mind to ultimately provide the best mission planning, teleoperations and development software tool in the robotics industry.”

Speaking of versions, there’s a simpler version of InDro Controller – which does not have the autonomy features – already being used for missions in the academic world. Feedback has been excellent.

“Users tell us they find InDro Controller Lite exceedingly powerful, but also very simple to use. That was exactly our goal in developing this product,” says Corbeth.

Academics and corporate innovation groups could take advantage of the Lite version, while the Industrial package is intended for solving more complex problems in an industrial environment.

 

Satisfying R&D

For Front End Developer Bundy, who oversaw this project with support from other engineering staff, it’s been a hugely satisfying – and challenging – project.

“A lot of the customization features were pretty difficult because it has to be robust and dynamic, which is always tough,” he says. “This is a relatively complicated application and I’ve managed to put together something pretty nice and functional – and it will only get better. “I’ve had a bunch of other help, but putting together the UI for InDro Controller has been, and continues to be, highly satisfying.”

InDro's Take

We’re obviously excited about InDro Controller. And we’re particularly excited because we have a forthcoming piece of hardware – the InDro Module. It’s a small box with a lot of brains that can be added to any robot to increase functionality and enable the seamless addition of sensors and other modifications (as well as pre-loaded autonomy stack and ROS drivers). We’ll have more on that soon, but it’s the perfect match for InDro Controller for users with complex requirements.

For the moment, we’re looking forward to putting both the Lite and Industrial versions into the hands of clients.

“When we first began remote teleoperation several years ago, we relied on third-party software as the UI,” says InDro Robotics CEO Philip Reece. “But we found it wasn’t powerful or customizable enough for our needs. It also required that we have our own autonomy stack – and we did – but many clients do not. InDro Controller comes with our proprietary autonomy stacks for both outdoor and GPS-denied locations. And, as noted previously, this is a long-term project, where even early adopters can be assured the package will be continuously refined with additional features.”

Word has already been spreading in the R&D and commercial fields about this product, and the feedback from those using the Lite version has been outstanding. Interested in learning more or seeing a demo? Contact Luke Corbeth here.