Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Joint Architecture for Unmanned Systems

As a follow up to my previous post, the JAUS standard is apparently for sale for the nominal fee of $61. The DRM is included with PDF copies for free though.

I think the cost of the standards is about $41.05 more than can be considered nominal and that the standards should really be publicly distributed at no cost. Just like the standards for the Internet. Even industry standards are moving towards being publicly available and simply charging for product certification.

I could continue tilting at windmills, but I will suffice by shaking my fists in their general direction.

There is also some publicly available documentation on the JAUS Working Group website.

Aside from the actual standards there are a few implementations which could be considered open source. This could then be used to implement a ground station and black box data logger for UAVs or ground robots.

First we have Jr middleware which runs on both Windows and Linux and has language bindings for C, C++, C# and Java. On Windows it also supports Visual Basic. The library was developed and supported by DeVivo AST, Inc. A founder of DeVivo AST is also the chair of the SAE technical committee that controls the JAUS standard.

While I am sure the software works and completely meets the standards there are some issues. Personally, I thought we as a society moved beyond writing open source licenses that actively conflict with both the BSD license and the GPL. I guess some people have more lawyers then sense. The windmills are everywhere! The license would be somewhat tolerable if it was based off of the LGPL, but it is not.

Fortunately, OpenJAUS is reasonably licensed with the BSD license. It runs on Windows and Linux and supports C and C++, which is good because the idea of a robot running Visual Basic scares me. The documentation looks pretty good, so it looks like it's a usable implementation for telemetry and control of robots.

Now it is time to look into building a ground station that supports it and patching JAUS support into the ArduPilot.

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